Later this year, Belmont Shore could see a 25-cent increase in hourly parking meter rates, according to a recommendation that will soon head to the City Council.
The Belmont Shore Parking and Business Improvement Area Advisory Commission has proposed to raise the rate from $1.50 to $1.75 an hour, at a two-hour maximum, the committee announced at a special meeting on Thursday morning.
Matt Peterson, the commission chair, told the Post that the additional revenue will go toward funding priority projects along the Second Street corridor, which include monthly landscaping maintenance, placing flower baskets along the corridor, the ongoing process of installing a new gateway sign and increasing the presence of the privately contracted C.S.I. Patrol Services officers.
Calls to ramp up security and extend patrols by two hours a day have come in response to rising safety concerns after a man reportedly stabbed four people with a screwdriver near Second Street last month.
Parking revenue has also funded the commission’s contracts with the Conservation Corps of Long Beach and Spectrum Facility Maintenance—groups that handle sidewalk power-washing, trash removal, landscaping and litter abatement.
“We have a nice reserve balance, we have a post-pandemic revival, we have increasing revenue projections, but there are things that this commission desperately wants to achieve in the neighborhood in the direction of quality of life projects,” Peterson said, explaining the rationale behind the increase.
The new rate would push the cost to park in Belmont Shore above most metered areas in the city, except for The Pike, which charges $2 per hour daily.
The potential hike comes after parking rates increased last year by 50 cents, pushing the cost up from $1 per hour to $1.50 per hour.
Although parking revenue dipped during the height of the pandemic, revenue was trending up this year, with more than $491,000 collected through May, according to the commission’s records on revenue trends.
Last year’s increase contributed to an employee bus pass program for Belmont Shore workers and new designs for entryway signage. More than 3,000 people have responded to a survey to select that new sign. The commission will discuss the results of the survey to make a final decision likely in July, Peterson said.
In response to any potential opposition to the increase, Peterson noted that drivers just making a quick stop can still push the green “OK” button to park for 15 free minutes.
“Still, not everybody knows that,” he said. “That was another program developed by us to be user friendly.”
Unlike many other areas in the city with metered parking, Belmont Shore retains its meter revenue. That revenue funds the commission, which is required to spend it on improvements, construction and maintenance of the corridor.
“There are other districts that collect revenue, and they share that revenue with the city. This district keeps its revenue and the revenue goes to the projects that you all enjoy,” Peterson said at the commission’s February meeting. “These are important services that really go to the quality of life and without them, we would be beholden to the city.”
Only one resident was in attendance for public comment on Thursday. Peterson said he was both surprised and disappointed to see a lack of public participation.
“I wish that more people would attend these meetings,” Peterson said. “The material that we go over is really critical for the neighborhood.”
The recommendation to raise parking rates will soon head to the City Council, but Peterson said it could take six months before Belmont Shore sees the change.