Rehoboth Beach’s 2022 summer parking season ended Sept. 15, and city officials are already beginning to think about 2023.
During a commissioner workshop Sept. 6, city commissioners looked over an eight-item list of parking topics to discuss created by Interim City Manager Evan Miller.
The issue garnering the most discussion was the continued growth of organizations asking for free parking spots. Specifically, Rehoboth Beach Public Library, Cape Henlopen Senior Center, Chamber of Commerce Visitors Center, Rehoboth Beach Historical Society, and Rehoboth Beach Main Street.
It’s been compounding over the last few years and there are requests for more, Miller said. It’s gotten to the point that it should be brought forward to the commissioners.
Miller said part of the problem is that businesses want to know how the city can give away a bunch of free spaces that could be used by their employees and customers.
As usual, the list included looking at the parking season’s length and enforcement times, and possible changes to parking meters and parking permits.
Commissioner Tim Bennett said he is in favor of examining those because the city has millions of infrastructure improvements that need to be made and those improvements should rest squarely on the shoulders of city residents. Last year, Bennett suggested ocean block meters be $5 an hour, instead of the current $3 an hour, but that change was not implemented.
Commissioner Patrick Gossett suggested the city engage a consultant to conduct a comprehensive parking study to see how the city could improve. There’s new software out there that could help, he said.
Miller agreed, adding that right now, the city is actively cataloging all parking spaces in residential sections of the city. Once that’s completed, he said, it will give the city a good base from which to work.
The list included a request from Rehoboth Beach Volunteer Fire Company Chief Chuck Snyder to address emergency response challenges caused by general congestion, and by delivery vehicles and buses. Before any decisions were made, Mayor Stan Mills tasked city staff, the police department and the fire department to see if something could be worked out.
A new area of vehicular traffic commissioners could tackle is large golf cart-like vehicles being used by hotels to shuttle guests to and from the beach. There’s been a large increase in these vehicles and there’s nothing in the city code addressing them, said Miller.
The list also includes possible initiatives for downtown business employee parking and possibly changing code dealing with unattended vehicles, but ultimately commissioners decided to not focus their attention on those subjects right now.
The list of eight topics provided by Miller is likely not the end of possible parking changes. At the end of the discussion, he said city staff has its own substantial list, which will be presented when ready.
Commissioners are expected to continue discussing the topic during their meeting Friday, Sept. 16.
Parking $1 million over expected revenue
During his city manager’s report at the beginning of the meeting, Miller said parking meter revenue for the month of August was about $550,000 higher this summer compared to last – about $1.82 million to about $1.28 million.
Overall, through Sept. 2, he said, the city is roughly $1.05 million over the budgeted parking revenue for FY 2023. The city’s pay-to-park season ends Thursday, Sept. 15.