Use parking meter windfall to reduce traffic
Rehoboth Beach officials had good news to end the parking meter season.
City Manager Sharon Lynn told the parking garage task force that revenues jumped more than 20 percent in 2019, bringing in $830,000 more than in 2018.
Lynn also said this bump in revenue doesn’t count parking-permit revenue, with this year’s two-week extended season, or fines from parking tickets, so more unexpected revenue could be on the way.
Explaining the unexpected windfall, Lynn credited improved technology, a $1 per hour increase in rates in the commercial district and, perhaps most significant, summer 2019’s sunny weather.
Lynn also told the task force parking revenue at the new city hall lot was up nearly 25 percent, from $55,000 in 2018 to $68,000 this year, which she said came from greater awareness the lot was available for public use.
However, based on visual monitoring, Lynn said, unless there was an event in town, the lot was not heavily used in May, June, the last half of August or September.
That leaves about six weeks, basically from July 4 weekend through mid-August, when the lot was in high use.
It’s this short season that for decades has been a stumbling block to the construction of a parking garage. For all but a few weeks of the year and a few events, parking may be a little scarce in town, but it’s generally available.
Lynn suggested unexpected parking revenue could be used to enhance visitor safety, such as improved signage or possibly additional personnel.
Conspicuously absent from Lynn’s list, yet perhaps the best way to enhance visitor safety, is funding to find ways to greatly reduce auto traffic and encourage visitors to enjoy Rehoboth’s walkable, shady streets and busy Boardwalk.
Walking is one of the great pleasures of visiting Rehoboth, and as the area’s expanding trail network attracts ever more cyclists and pedestrians, finding ways to reduce auto traffic – along with the pollution traffic produces during the summer’s hottest weeks – should be among among the city’s top priorities.