Bethany aims to eliminate cars as beach storage

Bethany Beach officials are looking to tackle another of the town’s parking problems, with the first reading this week of a proposed ordinance that would prohibit vehicles being left parked in front of private properties in the town for an extended period of time without being moved.

At their Jan. 17 meeting, the town council briefly discussed the ordinance, which is designed to address a situation that Vice-Mayor Jack Gordon said causes “much annoyance for the property owners in front of whose property the vehicles are parked.”

Councilwoman Margaret Young said she welcomed the proposed change, as she had received a number of complaints in the past few years from people who noticed that some beachgoers were parking cars on streets near the beach long-term and using them basically as convenient storage for their beach gear.

“They’ll park the car with their residential parking permit and load it up their beach equipment and leave it there all week,” she said. “And they’ll come every day in another car and unload the beach stuff.”

But Young questioned the decision not to include enforcement for unattended vehicles in cases where the property owner in question doesn’t call to make a complaint, potentially leaving some cases unreported.

Town Manager Cliff Graviet said that decision had come as a result of a question the council wrestled with years ago, where there was concern that property owners and tenants were leaving cars parked in front of their homes, taking up prime parking spots, rather than park in their own driveways.

Graviet said the council hadn’t wanted to address that issue then, so it wasn’t part of the newly proposed ordinance, either. Instead, he said, “This is designed to deal with people leaving their cars with their equipment inside. We documented one particular gentleman who parks as close to the beach as possible,” he noted, and then bikes to the beach and unloads his equipment from the car.

Resident Norbert Kraich said he wondered whether the change would impact a resident who has no driveway (as is the case for some east-side property owners) and instead parks their vehicle in front of their home.

Graviet reiterated that the affected property owner has to call in order for enforcement to take place, which would be unlikely when it’s the car owner parking in front of their own house.

Property owners could report a vehicle after it had been left in front of their property for at least 24 hours, at which time the Town would put a notice on the vehicle, requiring it to be moved within the next 48 hours. The proposed ordinance could come to a vote as soon as February, putting the restriction in place in time for the 2014 summer season.