Lewes should consider parking permits on beach

July 30, 2020

The following letter was sent to Lewes Mayor Ted Becker and City Council, with a copy submitted to the Cape Gazette for publication.

As a Lewes homeowner and resident, I’m writing to request consideration for a new summer seasonal parking permit policy for Lewes Beach.  It would be in effect daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. in all non-metered areas on Lewes Beach from the Friday before Memorial Day through Labor Day. 

I and many others believe this would be an effective first step in managing the summer parking problem on Lewes Beach.  The congestion of cars parked along Cedar Street and side streets has created very real safety risks for pedestrians, bikers, and motorists - visibility is severely obstructed and there have already been several “near misses.”  Nobody wants a tragic accident to be the impetus for action.  

Under this proposal, parking passes would be available to all Lewes homeowners located within the city limits.  Each household would have the option to purchase permits based on their registered vehicles as well as two transferable passes for guests.  The cost would be determined after examining cost and revenue projections.  A limited number of passes would also be available for purchase to visitors.  The number and location of permits would be determined by a study of available parking spots on Lewes Beach.  

This is the basic parking policy of Rehoboth Beach, Dewey, Bethany, and most other beach communities that have adjacent residential neighborhoods which get overwhelmed by beach parking.  

What are the benefits of this approach?

All Lewes homeowners (not just Lewes Beach homeowners) would have first opportunity to purchase parking passes, particularly since we are all direct taxpayers. 

It would prioritize the residential neighborhood parking for Lewes residents, who are more likely to be courteous, safe, and have access to bathroom facilities in reasonably close proximity.

This could possibly produce a new revenue source for Lewes, particularly in light of the COVID-19 pressure on the city budget.

It would provide passes for other beachgoers to visit Lewes Beach.

It would eliminate the free-rider incentive for beachgoers to access free parking on small residential streets as opposed to paying for parking in the beach lots.  It would improve public safety by reducing the speed, aggressiveness, and volume of cars hunting for parking on our narrow streets with limited turn visibility.

A study of the parking spaces would eliminate the inconsistency where some streets have ‘No Parking on This Side’ and others don’t.  When cars are parked on both sides of a side street, it is a safety challenge for residents and first responders to access the street.

It would encourage use of the beach during non-peak hours, thus balancing out the traffic surges. 

I and others recognize that Lewes needs a long-term plan to address parking, e.g., more parking capacity, jitney service, etc.  But we also need immediate action that will protect our quality of life, and promote safety for our families and friends. 

Thank you for your consideration of this proposal.

Khalil Saliba
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