BRCA Public Position on Parking

August 3, 2023

      To  Town Council Members and Interim Town Manager by email

Date:     August 3, 2023

Re:        August 8, 2023 Public Hearing

The Town Council has given notice that at its meeting on Tuesday, August 8, 2023 it will consider changes to Chapter 6 of the Town Code related to public parking enforcement regulations for downtown. The proposed ordinance allows the Town the option to charge for public parking, increase fines for parking violations, establish graduated fines for repeat violations and allow for vehicle immobilization devices.  On behalf of the Executive Committee of the Blowing Rock Civic Association, I am pleased to offer the following comments and would appreciate your reading them during the public hearing.

Historically, BRCA has been in favor of a system of paid parking for downtown Blowing Rock, and we continue to support it, subject to certain conditions described below.  We believe that given the amount of visitor traffic in Blowing Rock, such a system could generate sufficient income to pay the associated capital and operating costs and, in time, generate a surplus that could be used to improve the parking options for downtown (such as another parking deck, shuttle transportation, etc.)  and offset expenses that otherwise would have to be borne by local residents via property taxes.  We are also aware that other similar communities have successfully implemented paid parking systems.  Consequently, we support changes to the Town’s ordinances that would give the Town the option to implement such a system.  For the same reasons, we support ordinance changes that would increase fines for violations and improve enforcement capabilities.

Our historic and current support is subject to the following conditions:  (1) arrangements should be made for downtown business workers to park somewhat remotely and (2) the system should have features to permit local residents to park downtown for free for a reasonable period of time. There are, of course, various options for how these conditions could be met – for example, in the case of condition (1), where would employee parking be located? Would there be any charge for employee parking or a shuttle, if one were provided?  In the case of condition (2), would local residents be issued special decals or given some other way to identify their vehicles?  We understand that Town officials are planning to take some time to consider the details for a paid parking system and that immediate implementation is not planned. BRCA agrees with and encourages that approach. We have concerns that with the water/sewer project planned to begin soon, there will be disruption and some temporary loss of parking downtown due to the project. That time period (and potentially longer) will be a good time to plan ways to accommodate downtown employees and local residents in a paid parking system.  We would be happy to provide representatives from our organization to assist with research into systems in other communities who have dealt with similar issues and otherwise to participate in the process with respect to paid parking on behalf of local homeowners who are BRCA’s primary constituency.

Thank you for the opportunity to make these comments.

Jean Kitchin, Chair: BRCA

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