OCEAN CITY — While one single event might not be a large enough sample size to make any long-range assessments, the new ordinance governing parking for oversized trailers on city streets during vehicle-related special events during last month’s spring Cruisin’ event appeared to have achieved the desired results.
As part of the ongoing effort to rein in some of the behavior associated with the vehicle-related special events, including but not limited to the spring and fall Cruisin’ events and Bike Week, for example, the Mayor and Council spent much of last winter working on an ordinance requiring participants to purchase a permit for parking oversized trailers on certain city streets. The idea was borne after a particularly troublesome spring Cruisin’ event last year when residents complained of trailers and other oversized vehicles parked along main thoroughfares and side streets throughout the resort, taking up vast areas of street parking in some cases and causing traffic obstructions in others.
Essentially, the new ordinance allows only those officially registered for the events to park oversized vehicles on city streets. The stickers have to be prominently displayed on the trailers and those “hangers on” not officially registered for the events are not allowed to purchase them. Another component of the ordinance prohibits parking oversized trailers anywhere on Baltimore Avenue.
The new ordinance only allows registered participants to park trailers on public streets from May 1 to Oct. 31 and only after purchasing a permit and affixing it to the trailer. The permits cost $50 and apply only to the event prior to or during which they are purchased. In other words, they aren’t cumulative for the rest of the vehicle-related special events throughout the year.
With the new ordinance going into effect on May 1, last weekend’s Cruisin’ event was the first real test case for the rule changes and by most accounts, the event participants abided the rule changes. According to event promoter Bob Rothermel of TEAM Productions, 291 of the trailer parking permits were purchased during last week’s spring Cruisin’ event. Rothermel said the process was fairly smooth for the first time out with the new ordinance in place although there were some obvious growing pains going forward.
“We said from the beginning that there would be a learning curve for everyone involved and impacted by the trailer ordinance,” he said. “Only having been through one event, it might be presumptive to draw too many conclusions.”
OCPD Public Information Officer Lindsay Richard said enforcing the new ordinance created as many challenges for the police department as the event participants although, on the surface, it appeared to achieve the desired results. The OCPD issued 32 tickets for trailers without the requisite permits and 12 tickets for oversized vehicles.
“This was the first event where this new trailer ordinance came into play, so we think that it was a learning experience for us and the citizens alike,” she said. “For the most part, citizens abided by the new ordinance and the roads were much more clear and safe for drivers and pedestrians.”
Rothermel said the ordinance might need a few tweaks after a full season of vehicle-related special events that can be revisited next offseason.
“The biggest complaint was people wanted them for the whole week since most people make Cruisin’ a week-long vacation,” he said. “Also, a lot of people come into town at night and can’t get the permits until the next morning, which was frustrating for them.”
Those hot rod enthusiasts who came to the resort but didn’t officially register for the event were not allowed to purchase the permits and had to park their trailers on certain municipal lots, private property with the permission of the owner or the Park-and-Ride in West Ocean City. Rothermel said the private sector was generally accommodating for those without permits, however.
“It was nice to see hotels and businesses step up and offer trailer parking,” he said.
In a larger sense, last month’s spring Cruisin’ event rivaled previous year’s numbers despite the less than stellar weather for two of the four official days. Based on the city’s Demoflush numbers, 124,528 poeple were in town last Thursday, followed by 151,082 on Friday, 188,402 on Saturday and 168,119 on Sunday. Those numbers are fairly consistent for the last four years of the spring Cruisin’ event. In fact, the 188,402 last Saturday was second only to the 194,977 reported for the Saturday of the 2014 event.
“There were large crowds along the roadway and significant traffic on Friday while the traffic was slightly hampered on Saturday by the wet weather,” said Richard. “While there were a large number of traffic collisions, most were very minor in nature and there were no significant criminal incidents that occurred.”