‘It’s not an easy topic’: Surf City council members discuss paid parking

Surf City leaders weigh up paid versus free parking

The town is one of the last in the area to offer free parking, but council members talked about how crowded and unsafe it was on the island last summer. The proposal includes paid parking from April through October from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Of course, all of this is subject to change. This proposal is still in the works and still in the discussion phase.

All council members are on board for paid parking, except for Councilman Dwight Torres.

“I feel like but this was never put together as a commission,” said Torres. “To bring in subject matter experts, to bring in residents, to be a part of the discussion—this decision was made. And now we’re trying to rationalize it.”

Torres said it’s never a good time to to institute a paid parking program, but the timing now couldn’t be worse.

“Our neighbors that don’t have the privilege, as I, to live in Surf City, particularly on the island, where we would get a pass,” said Torres. “[It] seems a little, I don’t want to use the term selfish, but it’s definitely short sighted and I have empathy for those that just don’t have that access or opportunity. And for them to be hurt. And economically now...this just doesn’t seem fair.”

Surf City Mayor Doug Medlin says he’s always been against paid parking, until now.

“I looked at the safety in the parking at Surf City and it was just not there,” said Mayor Medlin. “We had to put a lot of time in, police work to keep the streets clear so you could safely drive further.”

He says it’s for the safety of the citizens, but also it’s to help bring in more revenue.

“We got to looking at whether we get a little more income, because we’re coming up short on some other things,” said Mayor Medlin. “I don’t really want to put any more tax burden on the citizens that live here—they pay for all of it. So we said, well, if we do pay parking, then that gives our visitors a chance to help pay for [it] while we’re providing the beach, and the crossovers, all the parking, the streets and all.”

Mayor Medlin says he hasn’t talked to a business owner that is completely against it. He knows there are some changes they’d like to see and they’re working on it.

Town council will meet again on Tuesday, Feb. 2. Mayor Medlin believes a vote will take place and that it will be in favor or paid parking.

“Public comments will be accepted and can be submitted by telephone or email by calling and leaving a voicemail at (910) 338-5510 or by emailing the Town Clerk at clerk@surfcitync.gov. All comments will be heard during the public comment portion of the Town Council meeting on February 2, 2021 and prior to the vote,” according to the town.

Copyright 2021 WECT. All rights reserved.