Virginia Beach officials want to soften rate hike for Oceanfront employee parking passes

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The city might scale back a sharp increase in the cost of employee parking permits at the Oceanfront in the wake of complaints over the fee hike.

The permits had cost $25 annually. This year the fee increased to $20 a month.

Councilman John Uhrin requested Thursday at a meeting of the Resort Advisory Commission that Resort Administrator Mike Eason help draft a plan to significantly reduce the new rate, possibly to about $10 a month, and phase in an increase.

Several commissioners voiced concerns at the meeting over the hefty increase.

Virginia Beach Restaurant Association President Bill Gambrell said he has heard from many Oceanfront business owners expressing frustration with the new system, mainly about the sharp rate increase.

The new parking system and software requires employees to buy the pass instead of receiving a generic employee pass purchased by their employer, as was done in the past. The new system identifies each pass with an employer, providing more accountability on sloppy parking or rowdy late night behavior.

Commissioner John Hawa said he and Gambrell were on a subcommittee that made some of the changes.

“I think we’ve made some mistakes,” Hawa said.

He said the new parking system falls far short of solving the bigger picture of parking problems in the area, and the new rate isn’t fair to employees who contribute their services to the area.

“We did not have enough backbone,” Hawa said. “We were chosen to solve a problem, and what is being implemented will not solve the problem.”

Commissioner Elizabeth Baumann said the transition to the new system has been glitchy, with some employees “not being able to get in.”

Staff is not sure if the glitches are the result of software issues or due to a learning curve for employees registering with the system, Eason said after the meeting. He said he was fairly certain most of the kinks have been worked out.

Councilman Uhrin requested that he and Eason try to draft a decrease in the parking rates that does not shortchange those who have already paid the $20 monthly rate.

“You’ve heard today, and I’ve heard from other people too, that it’s a pretty significant increase,” Uhrin said after the meeting.

Uhrin said he intends to present a proposal Tuesday to the City Council if he and Eason can come up with a plan by then.

Have a story idea or news tip? Contact Business reporter Hillary Smith  at Hillary@wydaily.com or 757-490-2750.

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