Some changes have unintended consequences

September 24, 2019

It appears certain parking measures instituted in Rehoboth Beach over the summer did not work out exactly as planned.

Rehoboth commissioners raised meter fees to $3 an hour and imposed a three-hour time limit in more commercial area spaces, in part to increase turnover making more spaces available for customers of stores and restaurants.

The increased parking fee may have kept a few people off Rehoboth Avenue, but businesses report the the three-hour time limit did nothing good for business.

Three hours is not much time, especially for families with young children or older people in tow. Just about the time they have settled in on the beach or maybe walked down the Boardwalk for a few rides at Funland, it’s already time to start worrying about the car.

Once back in the car, it turns out people don’t scour the streets for a new spot. Instead, they head out to the highway to eat and shop. 

Chamber officials said the biggest complaint the chamber received was the three-hour limit, while not a single complaint came in about costs.

Businesses say extending the permit season on residential streets to match the meter season also had unintended results.

Local people usually flock into town after Labor Day, parking on streets where permits were no longer required – but not this year. One manager said what had previously been a busy two weeks welcoming back locals had instead been unusually quiet. 

No one has a crystal ball that lets us see the consequences of our actions. Yet the effects of these changes show that even small measures can have negative effects on the very businesses they are intended to help.

Going forward, as city council reviews parking changes and considers larger, long-lasting changes– including a downtown parking garage – two cautions come to mind.

First,  if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is, and second, be careful what you wish for.

  • Editorials are considered by the editorial board and written by Dennis Forney, Publisher Emeritus, with occasional contributions from other board members: Trish Vernon, CoPublisher and Editor; Dave Frederick, Sports Editor Emeritus; Jen Ellingsworth, Associate Editor; Nick Roth, Sports Editor; and Chris Rausch, CoPublisher and General Manager.

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