Parking rates in Belmont Shore could increase next month as a proposal to raise the hourly rates for metered spaces by 50 cents heads to the City Council for approval Tuesday.
The current price for parking could move from $1 per hour to $1.50 per hour, likely in July, if the City Council approves the February recommendation from the Belmont Shore Parking and Business Improvement Area Advisory Commission.
Revenue from the parking meters funds the commission, which is required to spend it on maintenance, construction or other improvements along the corridor in Belmont Shore.
Matt Peterson, the chair of the commission, said raising the rates would allow the Business Improvement Area to keep funding things like security, sidewalk cleanings, median landscaping and other long-term projects like replacing the entryway signage for the corridor.
After taking a hit in 2020 due to the pandemic, parking revenues have been trending up in Belmont Shore with over $483,000 being collected through May 2022, according to commission budget documents.
But Peterson pointed out that inflation and general supply shortages could mean that it will be more expensive to fund projects the commission wants to see through.
“Everything we do on behalf of the neighborhood is going to be hit with higher costs so it’s natural at this point to try and increase revenue through meter increase,“ Peterson said in February.
The $1.50 per hour rate will bring Belmont Shore’s metered parking rates even with those paid to park in Downtown. Only The Pike has more expensive metered parking rates where visitors pay $2 per hour.
The amount of time someone can park would be limited to two hours, which raised some concerns about patrons being ticketed during hours-long hair appointments or while watching a sporting event at a restaurant, but enforcement may not be that stringent.
Peterson said that by using a smartphone app or simply manually putting more money into the meter, visitors can park for more than two hours. They just can’t pay for more time until the original two-hour block expires.
One of the programs that the additional revenue will fund is the return of the employee bus pass for workers at Belmont Shore businesses. The commission voted Thursday to approve a new contract with Long Beach Transit to provide free rides for employees through the end of September.
The program is intended to help alleviate parking issues in Belmont Shore by allowing employees to take public transit to work for free instead of driving their personal vehicles and taking up parking spaces.
Bus passes will be issued through the Belmont Shore Business Association to eligible employees, and the commission will pay up to $5,000 per month to help finance the program.
To cut down on misuse of the passes—people sharing passes with non-employees to get free rides—employees will be asked to download the LBT tap app to install their bus passes on their smartphones. Keeping the employee bus pass program beyond September is a possibility but a long-term agreement is still in negotiations, according to a city official.
More parking could be freed up with the removal of some outdoor dining parklets along the corridor. They have taken up dozens of spaces over the past two years but phasing out the program, which was approved by the City Council this week, could see some of the spaces on Second Street freed up over the next month.