The pay-to-park season in Rehoboth is winding down for 2018, but when it begins again in 2019, significant changes may be in store.
The Rehoboth Parking Committee has been meeting for months to come up with ways to solve the city’s parking problems. Committee Chair Linda Kauffman presented the group’s recommendations to city commissioners during an Aug. 17 meeting.
Most people will not walk unless they are within two blocks of their destination, Kauffman said.
“There’s not a parking problem in Rehoboth,” said Kauffman. “But there’s a perception of a parking problem, and perception is reality.”
Among major changes, Kauffman suggested increasing the cost of parking on Rehoboth Avenue; extending the meter season and permit season to May 1 through Sept. 30; and enforcing meters and permits from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Kauffman said if it costs the same to park on Rehoboth Avenue as it does on other streets, drivers are always going to want to park on Rehoboth Avenue. Meters are put in place to create turnover, she said, so people who want to park on Rehoboth Avenue should have to pay for the convenience.
Kauffman spoke from a position of experience – she is the former executive director of the Allentown Parking Authority and vice president of industry solutions at T2 Systems, a parking solutions company based in Indianapolis. She said parking is a complicated issue that has many layers. It can’t be solved by looking at only one or two aspects without considering the others, she said.
Rehoboth’s meters are in use from the Friday of Memorial Day weekend through the second Sunday following Labor Day; the cost is $2 an hour; and meters are enforced 10 a.m. to midnight. The committee recommended extending the season to May 1 through Sept. 30, increasing the cost to $3 an hour in as yet unspecified core areas, and changing enforcement to 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.
The committee recommended several changes for permits also, including changing the permit season and enforcement hours to match the proposed season for meters; increasing the cost of business licenses that include a free permit or eliminating the free permit; limiting the number of permits issued per household to two permanent, two transferable and two scooter; and increasing the cost of permits.
Kauffman said all the suggestions wouldn’t have to be implemented all at once, but over several years instead.
For 30-minute parking, the committee recommended: create criteria and process for placement and removal; evaluate current location; and remove, move or add as needed; and better mark spaces so patrons know a space is short-term before pulling in.
Kauffman quickly addressed the idea of a parking garage. She said there were only two spots worth considering – the new city hall parking lot and the parking lot on Christian Street, near the Cape Henlopen Senior Center. She said the Christian Street lot was too small, and she didn’t think the cost associated with building one, which she estimated to be as much as $40,000 per space, justified a garage in the city hall lot.
The committee also recommended changing parallel parking on King Charles Avenue to diagonal parking, and locating abandoned driveways and making those spaces legal parking rather than no-parking areas.
Commissioners did not comment following Kauffman’s hour-long presentation.
In an email Aug. 23, Mayor Paul Kuhns said the commissioners are planning a special commissioner meeting at 1 p.m., Friday, Sept. 21, to discuss the recommendations.
“Many of these recommendations have been brought up over the years,” he said. “I am hopeful that we will have a fruitful discussion amongst the commissioners on the 21st and be able to make some thoughtful decisions about our path forward with these recommendations.”