(March 19, 2021) Every year, a few people try to sleep in their vehicles in downtown Ocean City, just west of St. Louis Avenue. And when they get away with it — it’s illegal — they open their doors in the morning, empty their garbage onto the street, and drive off.
Now, City Council members are considering parking restrictions during the overnight hours between Fourth Street and 15th Street, between St. Louis Avenue and the bay.
Councilman Peter Buas suggested requiring parking permits between Fourth and 15th Streets, during the Police Commission’s monthly meeting on Monday, saying it would deter overnight sleepers and litter.
“We can’t enforce our ways out of these problems, but it’s a small step,” he said.
Chief Ross Buzzuro said he was not opposed to requiring parking permits in the area, and that it could help with enforcement of stopping people from sleeping in their cars downtown.
If approved, the permits could be enforced from 3 a.m. to 6 a.m., Buas said, but Mayor Rick Meehan opposed the plan.
Enforcing parking permits in residential areas is not the same as enforcing them in commercial areas, he countered.
Plus, Meehan said, the demand to purchase the passes would put additional work on the city clerk’s office because residents would need to go to City Hall to obtain the permits.
Buas said the zone would be small, and the money earned could go toward safety features in the downtown section of Ocean City.
Historically, the revenue generated from parking permits is not tremendous, according to Meehan.
Although the revenue numbers were not available during the meeting, Buas suggested looking into how much of a burden the sale of additional permits would be to the clerks.
“I look at it, truly, as a way to clear out cars or the trash concern,” he said.
Buzzuro said he did not know if enforcing the permits would hinder his department in any way, though it could help if there was a permit. Realistically, though, the officers are looking to see if people are sleeping in their cars. Whether they have a permit or not, he said, sleeping in a car is against the law.
Meehan said more research should be done on the matter, and for this summer, the police should patrol the area as they have in the past.