By Rich Pollack
They were almost two years in the making, but Highland Beach finally has clear rules for parking on its six side streets.
For decades the rules for parking on residential streets — lined with single-family homes and multifamily townhomes — were confusing and difficult to sort out. That is changing with a new street parking ordinance that received final approval this month.
“We had 52 parking codes and some of them contradicted one another,” said Commissioner Peggy Gossett-Seidman, who lives on a side street in the Bel Lido neighborhood and has been an advocate of fixing parking problems in the area.
Since commissioners first started discussing parking in April 2018 the focus has been on three key issues: street parking for guests of residents, parking for lawn maintenance trucks and other commercial vehicles, and parking for beach-goers.
The new ordinance allows street parking under specific conditions, prohibits beach parking and overnight parking, and permits street parking of commercial vehicles while work is being done.
“This ordinance gives people a map for understanding where they can park on town streets,” Gossett-Seidman said. “It spells out where people can park and where they can’t park.”
The rules also authorize Town Manager Marshall Labadie and the police chief to make adjustments for specific cases and to put up no-parking signs where appropriate.
“It’s another tool in the toolbox to address one-off parking situations,” Labadie said.
The new ordinance prohibits double parking and requires that cars are parked in the roadway in the direction of traffic and no more than a foot off the street edge. It also bans beach parking and obstruction of driveways and mailboxes.
While the ordinance focuses on making sure that traffic and emergency vehicle can navigate the side streets, it also recognizes that on-street parking may be the only option for commercial vehicles and for guests of residents.
“We want to be reasonable and use common sense,” Gossett-Seidman said.
The commission’s unanimous approval of the ordinance came after months of discussion and research that included a couple of surveys of residents and input from advisory boards.
“It was a series of extraordinary events,” Gossett- Seidman said. “We wanted to get it right and we hope it will stand the test of time.”
She said the commission is open to revisiting the issue and making adjustments if needed.
In other business, Highland Beach officials learned the actual cost of fire service provided by Delray Beach in 2019 was significantly less than had been projected. As a result the town was reimbursed $109,765. With the reimbursement taken into account, the increase in the cost of fire service over the previous year was about 2.2% instead of the projected 5%.
The town also got $150,000 from Waste Management that will be used to cover the cost of damage to the roadway due to hydraulic fluid leaking from one of the trash hauler’s trucks.
“The damage shortened the life cycle of the roads,” Labadie said.