By Kathryn Casey for Island Eye News
The Isle of Palms City Council’s proposal for a new Managed Beach Access Parking plan has been approved by South Carolina Department of Transportation. The plan divides the city’s streets into two designations, one where free parking is allowed during beach season, and the other, generally closer to the beach, where parking permits will be required.
All current paid parking in lots and at meters will remain the same. A key element of the City’s request to SCDOT was to be able to distinguish between residents and visitors when planning the permits.
“It appears that [IOP] have developed a plan that should help the City manage resident and visitor parking demands well into the future,” writes Christy Hall, Deputy Secretary for Engineering at SCDOT. “SCDOT staff has reviewed your proposal and we find that it is within the purview of municipal authorities… to regulate on-street parking within your jurisdictional boundaries.”
The letter goes on to point out however, that any public concern or challenges will be solely the City’s responsibility, implying that SCDOT will not be involved should the parking plan result in any lawsuits. SCDOT also approved of adding designated golf cart parking into the plan.
The approval means the City can go forward with finalizing the details of its parking plan and implementing it this coming summer.
Details still to be hammered out include how far to extend the restricted parking area into the island, specifically whether to include Hartnett Blvd. in the restricted parking zone or not. The number of passes to be issued and the price of the permits is also still to be determined.
There are numerous steps for the City to take in order to have the parking plan go live, including determining what type of software will be used to implement the plan, which allows parking passes be purchased online, via the web or a smartphone app. This system means there will be no need for physical ticket machines to be placed on city streets.
To manage all of these tasks in a timely fashion, Council has created a Managed Beach Access Parking Implementation Steps list. These steps are not presented in sequential order, and some may occur at the same time as others.
• Draft ordinance(s) to designate districts and enforcement, and work through process of readings and ratification.
• Develop budget to accomplish implementation and ongoing operational expense.
• Determine fee schedule for parking passes to enable support of the ongoing operational expense of Management Beach Access Parking.
• Work with Stantec to develop a scope for securing a vendor for parking software and license recognition software.
• Contract for engineering assistance for securing SCDOT encroachment permits for placement of signs and designations of delineated parking such as golf cart parking areas.
• Secure encroachment permits.
• Execute procurement process for parking software, license recognition software and devices, and sign fabrication plus installation (preliminary estimated number of signs island-wide is 354).
• Establish staffing needs. Recruit, hire and train additional personnel (Beach Services Officers) for enforcement.
• Equip additional Beach Services Officers.
• Train all personnel related to Managed Beach Access Parking to enable assistance to citizens.
• Initiate Public Education Campaign to include social media, printed materials, and direct mail.
• Install required fabricated signage in appropriate designated, permitted areas.
• Establish an implementation date to “go live” with the program ensuring that citizens receive adequate notice.