Editorial: New ideas needed to solve Rehoboth’s parking problems
As Rehoboth considers changes to parking regulations, officials should start by better defining the problem they wish to solve.
We currently have a meter system that allows people to extend parking time without going back to the car. This is a great convenience, yet this technology also allows people to park all day in prime spots.
A proposal to increase the cost of prime parking may increase turnover, but the downside is that it will likely increase cars circling the Avenue as drivers seek out empty spaces – increasing congestion without providing much help for people who want to park near a specific business.
Another proposal is to extend permit times past 5 p.m., which will discourage visitors, including many locals, who come into town for dinner. If nearby metered parking is full, those people already park in permit areas. Should they have to buy a day permit just for dinner? And what about residents who invite friends over? If they come in more than two cars, the guests would need permits. Beyond that, what problem will be solved by extending permit hours?
Rehoboth is the state’s premier resort in part because of its welcoming, small-town charm. Key to that is curbing congestion, and encouraging visitors and residents to enjoy walking along the city’s shady streets. Officials should look beyond meters and permits, which necessarily imply more enforcement and more tickets.
Why not focus on innovative solutions to get people where they want to go? An app could identify available parking spaces. Restaurants and stores could try valet services or discounts for customers who use the Park and Ride. Businesses or the city could offer pickup services to assist people with mobility issues.
The parking committee states people no longer want to walk. But Rehoboth has only so many spaces. If the city wants to preserve its small-town atmosphere, it should adopt policies that push back against cars and instead promote walking so people can experience the atmosphere they come for.