Awareness Is Key to Unraveling the Complicated Issue of Parking on LBI

By GINA G. SCALA | May 22, 2019
Photo by: Jack Reynolds

Surf City — Even before Mother Nature saw fit to unleash seasonable spring temperatures on Long Beach Island, summer, including the matter of parking, was on the minds of many.  Knowing the ins and outs of parking in any of the Island’s six communities is as complicated during the quiet months of the off-season as it is difficult to find a parking space during the summer. Toss in home security systems making every movement known to an absentee homeowner, and parking on the sandbar just got a little more confusing.

“It doesn’t happen often,” Surf City Police Chief John Casella said, “but it does happen.”

He’s talking about calls to the police department from homeowners who receive an alert from their home security system to their cell phone notifying them someone is on their property. It doesn’t have to be someone at the front door or looking in a window, he said. It can be a car parked in the driveway, or on the street in front of the home. Casella said the homeowners are sometimes out-of-town in the off-season, or at work, or running errands when those alerts come through, and they want to know who’s on their property.

Police are dispatched to investigate. One of the first things they want to uncover is whether the individual belongs on the property or not, according to the chief. It’s common for construction and other service-based businesses to park in empty driveways, especially during the off-season, when they’re working on a nearby home. Sometimes those driveways are empty because the resident has parked in the garage, and when they go to leave, they can’t get out of the driveway.

“We take all the necessary information,” he said of the cases where the homeowner isn’t present, “in case they want to sign a complaint.”

It almost never gets that far, Casella said. Education goes a long way to mitigating those types of situations.

“I don’t think it’s malicious,” he said of parking conflicts, adding he believes a lot of the parking-related issues that occur do so because so many people are unaware of what the actual parking rules are.

So, what are the rules? The answer is twofold: Some of it is common sense and courtesy, but a big piece of it depends on location.

Common Sense. Park with the flow of traffic, Casella said. Parking against it could land the driver, often the vehicle owner, a ticket, and a court appearance should an individual want to dispute the summons, he said. Four of the six parking-related calls the Surf City Police Department dealt with over the 24-hour period of July 4-5 last year were about cars parking in the wrong direction, according to the chief.

“They (the driver) see a parking space and do a large turn (to nab the spot),” he said, adding everyone is always excited to see family and friends who are visiting, and the family/friends are excited to be here, so the parked car is often forgotten.

The law that’s been broken is a state law, not a local violation: crossing a double yellow line. It’s also a law in several surrounding states, such as Pennsylvania, New York and Connecticut, the chief said.

To Curb or Not to Curb. The idea that a driveway without a curb entitles a homeowner to the full frontage of roadway for off-street parking is pure bunk in several communities, including Surf City.

Grace Pitner, Surf City zoning officer, said the borough’s ordinance guarantees only 40 percent of the width of the property for a driveway opening. If the width of the property is 50 feet, the total opening for a driveway is 20 feet, according to Pitner. How that 20 feet is configured is up to the homeowner, she said. The remaining parking for any single-family home is on the street, she said. The minimum width for a driveway opening is 10 feet in Surf City, Pitner said.

Curbs make it easier to see where that opening is, and motorists shouldn’t block in those cars parked in legal driveways, unless it’s a family/friend’s home or their own. However, where there is no curb, a car may be parked in front of an empty opening as long as there is a car parked elsewhere on the property, declaring that space the “driveway.”

The borough requires the installation of curbs for all new construction and resales, and if a property undergoes significant renovations, she said. Curbs are often one of the last items to be punched on the construction to-do list, Pitner said.

Elsewhere on the Island. This is what parking looks like in:

Barnegat Light. Parking is prohibited during a declaration of emergency where temporary “emergency no parking” signs are posted. Those signs can be displayed for weather-related events, accidents, fires and public celebrations, according to the borough’s municipal code book. Notification is generally provided before the signs are posted.

Every lot where a home or building is located is permitted a driveway for access to the adjacent roadway, according to the municipal code book. The driveway must be a minimum of 10 feet in width and a maximum of 20 feet wide.

“Where curb cuts and/or concrete driveway aprons do not exist, a property owner may identify a section of the property frontage as the driveway, in conformance with the size limitations set forth herein,” Chapter 168 of the municipal code book reads. “Such designation may be made by yellow paint along the frontage, railroad ties, distinct driveway surfacing or other clearly identifiable manner.”

Beach Haven. If a property owner does not have curbing, the entire width of the driveway can be used for parking, Sherry Mason, borough manager said.

“There is, however, a curb and sidewalk requirement for all new construction or substantial renovation,” she said, noting the only time-limit parking in town is in front of borough hall during business hours. That time limit is 15 minutes, Mason said.

There is no alternate side parking in Beach Haven, according to Mason. Any parking disputes are handled by the borough’s police department, she said.

Under the borough’s municipal code, every building must provide off-street parking spaces of no less than 162 square feet with the dimensions of not less than 9 feet in width and 18 feet in length. The municipal code book also requires single-family homes with fewer than five bedrooms to provide two parking spaces. Three parking spaces are mandated if a single-family home has more than five bedrooms. A traditional duplex must have a total of four parking spaces, according to the municipal code book. For each two-family home with one or more units containing more than four bedrooms, three parking spaces per unit are required, under municipal code. An efficiency unit, defined in the municipal code book as a sleeping unit with cooking facilities, is required to provide 1.5 parking spaces per unit.

Harvey Cedars. Municipal code in the borough provides property owners with 18 feet of frontage to be used for a driveway, Dania Dale, municipal clerk, said.

“It should be designated,” she said, adding the area that is earmarked does not have to have curbing. “It can be landscaping, stones, pavers.”

The 18 feet can be designated as one large space, or, if the property has enough room, can be split so there are two areas of 9 feet for driveway space. However, if a front entrance way divides two garage spaces, there must be an available land in the middle for parking, she said.

Long Beach Township. From High Bar Harbor at the north end of the Island to Holgate at the southernmost tip, the township boasts not just the most beachfront, but land, too. In between High Bar Harbor and Holgate, there are Loveladies, North Beach, Brant Beach, and the remaining sections all the way down to the beginning of the Beach Haven.

Parking is prohibited on the easterly sides of all public streets running north and south, and on the south side of streets running east and west from 9 a.m. Wednesday through 9 a.m. Sunday in Holgate, and from 31st Street in Brant Beach straight down to Ohio Avenue in the area known as Beach Haven Terrace.

The same prohibition is in play in Loveladies along the entire length of Coast Avenue, as well as Art’s Lane, Station Avenue and Guard Avenue for their entire length; 87th Street and Loveladies Lane, Seaview Drive North and Seaview Drive South for their entire length.

“In the same areas, the parking of motor vehicles shall be prohibited on the westerly sides of all public streets or avenues running generally north and south and on the northerly sides of all public streets and avenues running generally east and west beginning at the hour 9 a.m. Sunday and ending at the hour of 9 a.m. Wednesday,” according to township code.

All off-street parking areas are required to be surfaced with gravel or paved with asphalt or concrete, as outlined in the township’s code book. All commercial parking areas must meet the state Department of Transportation specifications for porous pavement and be approved by the township engineer.

Homeowners are allowed a 20-foot-wide driveway with the remaining area to be available for off-street parking, Questions about parking should be directed to the construction department.

Ship Bottom. As the gateway community to LBI, the borough funnels all traffic on and off the Island. And because of its proximity to the Causeway, many day trippers choose to use borough beaches for their slice of summer fun, making it even more challenging to find the elusive parking place.

Historically, parking has been such an issue in the borough that officials changed the parking setback for stop signs from 25 feet to 15 feet in order to gain an additional parking spot at each intersection throughout town.

Parking can be found in what is known locally as the cutout, between 18th and 22nd streets. The east side of the cutout is intended for beachgoers. There is no time limit. On the west side of the cutout, or the parking spots closest to Long Beach Boulevard, the parking spots are earmarked for consumers. The time limit is 60 minutes, according to Mayor William Huelsenbeck.

“That dates back to the 1950s,” Huelsenbeck has said of the parking setup.

Municipal code calls for each lot with a detached single-family home or a two-family building have one curb cut per lot frontage. Each curb cut and driveway should be 12 feet in width. A 20-foot curb cut is permitted to allow for a two-car garage, according to municipal code.

“The curb cut and access drive shall be located on the side property line,” Chapter 16.5 of the municipal code book reads. “Each lot developed with other than a detached single-family unit or a two-family building shall not be so restricted; however, curb cut access shall be limited by the board, as deemed necessary, in order to provide as few curb cuts as necessary, and no curb cut shall be more than 24 feet in width.”

The municipal code book goes on to outline that in all circumstances, due consideration to the proposed width, curbing, direction of traffic flow, radii of curves and the method of dividing traffic lanes must be given.

Surf City. It’s almost that time again for the Surf City Taxpayer’s Association’s annual meeting with Mayor Francis Hodgson, who gives his “state of our town” address at the firehouse. Last year’s event drew a suggestion from a member of the public that the borough implement a two-hour parking window at the cutout, located across the Boulevard from the municipal complex, to help local businesses since so many spots are used all day by beachgoers.

“We’re in business, too … of selling beach badges,” Hodgson said at the time. “Someone suggested to me once we install parking meters across the borough. This isn’t New York City. I won’t consider it.”

While attempting to find a parking spot in the business district can be exasperating, trying to find a spot on a side street can be just as vexing – especially as the homes continue to grow in size.

“Parking is a lot like sand,” Casella, the police chief, said. “It fills in the same way sand trickles down.”

He said the first area of the borough to fill in with parking is the east side of Long Beach Boulevard, then the county road itself and finally the 100 block, or the streets just west of the Boulevard.

“We very rarely get past the 100 block,” he said, noting the busiest streets in the borough are south of Seventh Street. “Most people just move over to the next street (to find a parking spot).”

Signs. The only parking signs that should be observed are municipal, state or federal. All other signs that say “no parking” should be ignored, Casella said.

Save the date. The annual Surf City Taxpayer’s Association meeting with the mayor is slated for 9:45 a.m. on Saturday, June 22, at the firehouse.

— Gina G. Scala

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