Commentary

printed 12/13/2019

Even though a plan to expand paid parking in Ocean City has been rejected for now, this topic will emerge again, possibly next year or the year after that.

That’s simply because it involves revenue to city government that won’t have to come from the taxpayers.

No one can fault the council members for being undecided on this matter, because the public itself is probably as divided as they are on the merits of installing more meters on the oceanside from downtown to points far north.

To be sure, metered parking is not viewed with affection by anyone. Most people accept it or tolerate it, but it’s hardly admired, because it’s cold, frequently inconvenient, and unwelcoming.

Yet, more paid parking in this community, at the proposed rate, could mean an additional $900,000 going into the city treasury each year. What taxpayer wouldn’t want that?

Naturally, most residents and property owners would support an expansion of paid parking as long as it didn’t affect them. And therein lies the problem.

If paid parking were to eliminate a condominium owner’s free on-the-street parking for his or her guests, that’s going to be an issue. Similarly, if fully metered ocean block streets cause motorists to fill free spaces in front of residences on the bayside, that’s going to cause trouble as well.

Numerous studies have found that giving free parking permits to residents and property owners in the affected areas is more palatable politically, but it also means taking revenue-generating spaces out of circulation.

Further, the biggest downside of a mix of paid and free parking, according to a report in the “Economist,” is the additional traffic generated by motorists looking for places to leave their cars, paid if they have to, free if they can find it.

While we agree that leaving things the way they are is the right thing to do for now, we also believe that this discussion isn’t over and should continue until a balance is found that residents and business people can live with.

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