By Kathryn Casey, Island Eye News Staff Reporter
After nine years of discussions and many false starts, the Isle of Palms City Council has, once again, changed its mind about the managed beach parking plan. Now the city is moving forward with a completely new concept.
This overhaul came about during the Ways and Means meeting on April 21, 2015 when the council first saw the proposed budget for the parking plan.
City staff had determined that over a ten year period the cost of maintaining the parking plan would be $69,000 per year. Many members of council had agreed that they would only consider going through with the plan if it were cost neutral, the current concept they were working with did not allow this.
Councilmember Jimmy Carroll then suggested council go in a totally different direction, and instead of having a plan that involved software and passes, the Isle of Palms should go for a more simple approach. (It should be noted that councilmember Michael Loftus had, at many times during the process, advocated for going with a simpler concept, and even proposed staying with concept A after the Council decided on concept B earlier this year). And so, after initially rejecting concept A in favor of concept B, council decided to abandon concept B in favor of a new concept, which we’ll call concept C.
Many components of concept C are similar to concept B (and some parts of the previous concept A). The parking plan would only be in effect from Memorial Day until some time in August, and only during the hours of 9 a.m to 6 p.m. However, concept C will have only two parking districts. The first parking district would for residents only, and all residents would be required to have an appropriate decal for vehicles registered at an Isle of Palms address in order to park in the right of way in front or close to their home.
These residents would also be able to park anywhere on the island in the residential district. Residents would also be provided with a booklet of visitor parking passes for anyone renting their property or coming to visit. In these ways, the parking plan for Isle of Palms is modeled after the plan in effect in downtown Charleston.
The second parking district would be for beach visitors. “Beach visitor parking is allowed in designated areas within 1,000 feet or less from the beach and is free and open to anyone.” The beach parking district would include the Breach Inlet parking lot, 3rd and 4th Avenue between Ocean Blvd and Charleston Blvd, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, and 9th Avenues between Ocean Blvd and Carolina Blvd and Palm Blvd between 21st Ave and 57th Ave.
This new concept is clearly much more simple than an app that tells people when the right of ways are full, and would not require visitors to register their cars. However, many of the problems that Council has been looking to solve are still an issue with this plan. The major problem of congestion and illegal parking because there are simply not enough spaces in the right of way for everyone wanting to go to the beach still exist The fundamental problem of how to make this plan cost neutral is also difficult. Although concept C will cost half as much per year as concept B, there will still be an annual cost of $33,000.
The ongoing issue of implementing any type of managed parking plan will be considered at the next Ways and Means Committee meeting on May 19