Police Commission Wants To Keep OC’s Trailer Ordinance

OCEAN CITY – Following a lengthy discussion, a resort committee agreed this week not to modify the town’s trailer ordinance.

On Monday, the Ocean City Police Commission voted to keep the town’s trailer ordinance as it is currently written

“I think we’ve adapted to it,” Mayor Rick Meehan said. “I think private enterprise has adapted to it. And I think we would be taking a step backwards if we changed or removed this ordinance at this time.”

In 2016, the Mayor and Council passed an ordinance allowing registered participants in vehicle-related special events to park their trailers on public streets from May 1 to Oct. 31 after purchasing a $50 permit from the event organizer and affixing the associated sticker to their trailers.

The permits are valid Wednesday through Sunday during Cuisin Ocean City, OC BikeFest and Endless Summer Cruisin events. The ordinance, however, prohibits trailers or oversized vehicles from parking on Baltimore Avenue at any time.

The idea to pass a trailer ordinance was borne after a troublesome spring Cruisin event in 2015. At the time, residents complained that trailers and other oversized vehicles parked along main thoroughfares and side streets throughout Ocean City had taken up vast areas of street parking and, in some cases, had caused traffic obstructions.

“You have to remember it is illegal to park a trailer on the street without this ordinance,” Meehan said this week. “What we are allowing is this privilege to those that participate and are part of the event.”

In the commission meeting this week, elected officials and Ocean City Police Chief Ross Buzzuro noted the ordinance had achieved the desired goal of curbing some of the behaviors associated with the vehicle-related special events.

“We had this proliferation of trailers throughout town …,” Buzzuro said. “Now have a reasonable and controlled environment.”

Councilman Matt James, however, said Councilman John Gehrig had requested a review of the ordinance.

“When Councilmember Gehrig brought it up, I think he was asking do we still need it in that form,” he said.

Officials said trailers were parked throughout resort neighborhoods during motorized special events prior to passing an ordinance in 2016. Many of those problems, they said, were caused by hangers-on and not by those registered with the event.

While he acknowledged that issues related to trailer parking had improved during recent Cruisin events, Meehan argued the ordinance was still an inexpensive and reasonable way to support the event promoters and mitigate residents’ concerns.

“People have adapted to it …,” he said. “I think what we’ve also seen throughout the community is the community recognizing that the promoter and the town is working with them to protect them as well and not just looking at how many dollars can go through the cash register.”

City Manager Doug Miller highlighted the town’s efforts to educate the public on the trailer ordinance when it was first introduced. He urged the commission to consider the education component.

“Whatever we do, let’s measure twice and cut once …,” he said. “If we are going to do something different that’s fine, but let’s not go back to the way it was. Every time you change, you anger people.”

Council President Lloyd Martin, chair of the commission, said he had heard complaints that the permit was only valid from Wednesday to Sunday.

“People that bring their cars down want to be here for the week,” he said. “That’s the problem I keep hearing.”

Meehan, however, said several private businesses have stepped up to offer trailer parking before and during special events.

“You see more and more hotels in the area allowing areas for trailers to be parked on their property, to keep them off the streets,” he said.

Buzzuro told commission members the ordinance allows the police department to focus on other issues surrounding motorized special events.

“It allows us to be able to focus on other issues that resonate from car events …,” he said. “We aren’t seeing a lot of calls for service for trailer complaints now, but when we do we address them. I think it’s working pretty good.”

Meehan agreed.

“I think making a change now would be a mistake, especially as we continue to look for legislation and ways to contain and mitigate problems in these events,” he said.

With no further discussion, a motion to keep the trailer ordinance as it is written passed 3-0. James, who was present for part of the discussion on Monday, left before the vote.

The commission also agreed to review the trailer ordinance regularly.

About The Author: Bethany Hooper

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Bethany Hooper has been with The Dispatch since 2016. She currently covers various general stories. Hooper graduated from Stephen Decatur High School in 2012 and the University of Maryland in 2016, where she completed double majors in journalism and economics.