Ocean City Today

Pay-by-plate parking system rate and fine structures set

Ticket costs raised to $50 but city will provide grace period to reduce infractions
By Greg Ellison | Feb 01, 2018
Photo by: Brian Gilliland The city council finalized some details of the new pay-by-plate parking system, expected to be up and running by summer. The new systems allows for the removal of the toll booths at the entrance of the inlet lot, which will then free up space for another 72 additional parking spaces.

(Feb. 2, 2018) With the advent of a new pay-by-plate parking system, the city council took the opportunity to revisit some of its old policies, such as the way fines are handled and grace periods.

The council voted to increase parking fines from as little as $15, if paid within 48 hours of issuance, to $50, with a one-hour grace period. The grace period is intended to allow for time to be added, or in cases of overages at a payment kiosks or through phone apps.

“In some instances it was cheaper to park all day and pay the fine,” McGean said.

The pay-by-plate system allows users to add more parking time by entering their license plate at any payment kiosk, McGean said. “We’re going to make it painful, but we’re going to give you the option if it was a mistake.”

Parking rates were also adjusted.

The council opted to maintain the $2 per hour rate for downtown street parking and municipal lots between April 1 and October 31.

The same can’t be said for the inlet lot, which will now cost $3 per hour for that same time period, up from the previous rate of $2 per hour before Memorial Day and after Labor Day.

Also the council voted, with Gehrig in opposition, to allow vehicles to park for up to 30 minutes for free while discharging passengers at the inlet lot, including handicapped vehicles.

“The grace period was just for those [vehicles] to drive through the lot for pickup or drop off,” Meehan said. “It was not to park and to run as fast as you could to Thrasher’s and back.”

Councilman John Gehrig agreed to raise fines but questioned the need for a grace period to pay after the fact.

“The technology itself makes it easier to avoid parking tickets,” he said.

Councilman Wayne Hartman said individuals should take responsibility for their own actions.

“To misjudge your parking by four hours is, I think, too liberal,” he said. “I’d like to see the window be like one hour.”

Although backing the reduced time suggested by Hartman, Mayor Rick Meehan said the ticket forgiveness period has merit.

“It’s really going to benefit the family or person caught off guard,” he said. “All we’ll do is solidify their relationship with Ocean City

Under the previous system, handicapped drivers were not charged for metered parking or in downtown lots. The council agreed to limit the grace period for handicapped drivers to one hour.  “We want to accommodate, but not [allow them] to park all day for free to go to the beach,” McGean said.

The council also approved installing dollar bill acceptors in only four of 16 payment kiosks at the inlet lot, due to the prevalence of credit cards and aging currency acceptor technology.

“Dollar bill acceptors are prone to failure,” McGean said. “If it looks like we need more we can add them for $1,700 each.”

While the equipment upgrades will eliminate the need to hire additional staff to issue tickets, Meehan said the human touch is still required.

“No additional parking enforcement personnel, but at the same levels as last year,” he said. “If you don’t see any enforcement you don’t feed meters.”


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