Beachgoers wait for hours in hopes of getting an Oak Island parking permit

Some were left frustrated after attempting to buy seasonal parking permits on the first day of sales.
Published: Mar. 15, 2023 at 7:55 PM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

OAK ISLAND, N.C. (WECT) - Crowds of people were led to confusion Wednesday morning when hundreds lined up at Town Hall to buy non-resident parking passes hours before they went on sale.

“If I don’t get a pass, I’m leaving here,” said Tris Morse, who lives just outside of town limits. “I’ll be out by August.”

Morse visits the beach every day, so getting a parking pass to continue that habit was a must-do for her. She visited Town Hall Wednesday morning to get a parking permit, but like many others, left disappointed and confused.

“Somebody said ‘if you’re here for a pass today, you’re not gonna get it because if you don’t have a number you won’t, and they’ve already sold 200,’” said Morse. “It was not even seven in the morning.”

While tickets didn’t go on sale until 9 a.m., Morse says the confusion started when someone handed out numbered tickets to the first 200 people in line and the others were told to leave if they didn’t have a ticket. However, town officials say that person was not affiliated with Oak Island or the parking company Otto Connect. Those tickets had no impact on who did or did not receive a parking pass.

“If there’s some secret man giving out numbers, where is he?” asked Morse. “What time is he here and where can we find him? The girl inside said [the ticket rumor] wasn’t true but I was here.”

The daily allotment of non-resident permits ran out in minutes. Hours later, residents lined up to get their parking decals. They, too, were frustrated, saying more structure was needed with so many people in line.

“It’s kind of frustrating,” said Rosemarie Huffer, who lives in Oak Island. “There should be a little bit more organization. There should be someone running through here kind of like the driver’s license place and say ‘hey if you have this if you have that,’ — they’re not even letting us know exactly what forms we need.”

The crowd had mostly cleared by 3 p.m. but with many questions left unanswered by town officials, many expect Thursday’s parking permit sale to be just as frustrating.

“I’m sleeping in the parking lot tonight if that’s what it takes,” said Morse.

Permits for non-residents will be on sale in person again on Thursday and Friday starting at 9 a.m.