Wilmington passes parking ordinance to help residents on South Front St.

City passes parking ordinance along South Front St. to help residents
Published: Sep. 7, 2023 at 7:26 PM EDT
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - Finding curbside parking in downtown Wilmington can sometimes be an issue.

For some residents, this issue has turned into a safety concern.

“What I’ll often do is, I’ll put all my windows down in my car and turn off all the sounds and listen to see if I could hear a vehicle coming and if I don’t hear anything then I’ll start inching my way out. Sometimes I get a horn honk or something and I’ll know to stop, but other times it’s just pull out and then hope for the best,” Bruce Kemp, who lives on South Front Street said.

Kemp says he has had to change the way he pulls out of his driveway every day.

What most people find routine, Kemp and neighbors find dangerous. Cars parked on the road block the view for residents who need to pull out of their driveways. People who live in the area say backing out is an issue with speeding cars coming down the road.

“It’s so treacherous. I mean, it really is, I’m not a scaredy cat. But it is really challenging to pull back,” said Bruce’s wife, Judy.

That’s why Kemp gathered his neighbors to come together and vote for change. Eight out of the 12 residents who live on the 300 block of South Front Street wanted to see a difference in parking and road safety.

“In the wintertime, there is no problem. But most of the year, there’s a challenge finding a place to park near our home because starting about 9:30 every morning, and at least mid-afternoon, there’s no parking available. Because it’s all used up by people who are using the restaurants, who work in the restaurants, or on the river.”

The new ordinance passed by the city of Wilmington will make it so only residents with a parking permit can park on the 300 block of South Front Street. The hours will be from 9 a.m. - 3 a.m. Monday through Sunday.

Currently, most of the parking on the 300 block is taken up by local employees who are not residents of South Front Street. Neil Anderson from the Wilmington City Council said people who live on the street should be able to easily get in and out of their homes

“You know, they’re the ones that live there and pay the property taxes there. They ought to be able to get first right to park,” said Anderson.

However, the new change does come with a price. People will now have to park further from where they work and pay an hourly fee.

Anderson said officials in the city know paying for parking can be an issue for some people. He said the city has a program that allows people to park on the top decks of parking garages for a one-time fee.

“My daughter worked downtown one summer, and you’re sitting there working for an hourly wage, and meanwhile, you’re paying an hourly number for the parking space, so your income is greatly reduced,” said Anderson.

In the end, Kemp’s and his neighbor’s voices were heard. The signs for the new ordinance will go up within the next 30 days. Once the signs are up, there will be a two-week grace period to make sure nonresidents are aware of the changes.

The grace period also gives time for residents to purchase their new parking passes.

“It’s a great first step towards improving safety,” said Kemp.