Time is right for Lewes Beach parking permits

January 20, 2021

A committee in Lewes focusing on beach parking issues is quickly moving the city into the ranks of those communities with some sort of a parking permit system. 

For now, and all time previously, parking for Lewes Beach visitors – other than the metered and paved bayfront parking lots – has been free. Given increasing demand by a seemingly unlimited supply of people for limited beach area and parking spaces, that free model is no longer sustainable.  

Maintaining clean beaches and adjacent streets, providing clean restrooms, emptying trash cans, and enforcing rules and parking requirements all require money. The beaches are a public resource, available to all, but administering and maintaining them comes at a cost. A paid parking permit system will help provide the money needed for those services.  

It’s past time for Lewes to adopt a basic system in time for the coming summer season. With vaccinations promising to ease the coronavirus’ grip, it’s likely pressure on our beaches will be even greater this coming summer. Rehoboth Beach, Dewey Beach, and Bethany Beach all offer plenty of experience and models Lewes can tap.

All available spaces on Lewes Beach must be clearly marked, and right-of-way encroachments by private property owners that artificially and illegally limit public parking must be eliminated. Lewes has a survey of all encroachments. They should be removed, starting first with the most egregious and then moving down the line.

Lewes Beach has reached its capacity for cars. Any thought of further converting public natural areas for more parking should be dismissed immediately.

There is more room for pedestrians. More room for cyclists. A jitney service for the height of the summer season should be piloted – this year – and more parking areas for bicyclists should be provided.

The Lewes Beach Parking Committee is on the right track. Mayor and city council needs to move quickly to forestall a worsening situation.

  • Editorials are considered and written by Cape Gazette Editorial Board members, including Publisher Chris Rausch, Editor Jen Ellingsworth, News Editor Nick Roth and reporters Ron MacArthur and Chris Flood. 

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