Concerned citizens packed the Oct. 9 Deal Board of Commissioners meeting even though a public hearing on a proposed ordinance restricting parking on seven oceanfront streets was cancelled,
It was standing-room-only at the 9 a.m. meeting with every seat taken and more people standing in the hallway outside.
“It was never our intention to restrict access to the beaches. They are free and open and we want to keep it that way and find a solution to our problem. We would love to have a solution,” Mayor Morris Ades said to a packed house.
Borough officials said the ordinance has been tabled with any future public hearings to be announced through a legal notice.
Commissioner Samuel M. Cohen said that beach access was never an issue when considering the ordinance.
“We are trying to help residents to park in front of their house,” Cohen said.
Ades said that parking laws are “very vague” and that a solution needs to be found.
John Weber, Mid-Atlantic regional manager of the Surfrider Foundation, said the laws are “not vague in any way, shape or form” and that his organization is willing to work with the borough to find a solution.
He said that oceanfront mansions in Deal have plenty of driveway space and questioned the need for on-street restrictions.
And Greg Hueth, president of the Shark River Surf Anglers, agreed, saying that oceanfront homeowners have to deal with the problem.
“Just like others do. Some of us have been living with this our whole lives,” he said.
He questioned why an ordinance denying public access to streets would be considered while the federally-funded beach replenishment project requires public access.
“Why are you able to do that?” he asked.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineer supervised a $40 million federally-funded project that pumped 1.4 million cubic yards of sand between Deal and Loch Arbour over the summer.
Former Loch Arbour Mayor William Rosenblatt said that the parking restrictions give the “appearance of intent” to deny beach access. He also said he believes that oceanfront mansions in Deal have plenty of driveway space and that homeowners need to deal with parking problems.
“It comes with the territory,” he said.
Asbury Park Fishing Club President Joseph Pallotto said that the ordinance does not block access but limits it by restricting parking.
“I hope this will be considered in a solution,” he said.
Many residents and organizations said they would like to help borough officials find a solution to the problem.
Under the ordinance, which was introduced on Sept. 21, Deal residents living on certain streets between Ocean Avenue and the beach would be issued six parking permits valid for one year. Only permit holders would be allowed to park there during certain times of the year, especially over the summer.
The streets proposed for restricted parking are Monmouth Drive and Monmouth Terrace and Hathaway, Sydney, Neptune and Roosevelt avenues. There are two streets leading to the beach that currently have an existing two-hour parking restriction: Darlington Road and Deal Esplanade.
Parking restrictions would be only for blocks between Ocean Avenue and the beach and permits would be issued to the property owners, not to individual car owners.
Opponents to the ordinance say that the restriction will place a substantial burden on the public’s ability to access to beaches, violates the public trust doctrine and the right to free assembly. They also say the ordinance is unconstitutional since it allows only residents to park on streets and prohibits nonresidents.