New Bern business owners start petition to fight new parking regulations

NEW BERN, NC (WITN) New Bern businesses against the new two hour parking enforcement have taken to petitions to try and get the city to reverse its decision.

The enforcement of parking regulations in New Bern has business owners split on whether the restrictions are good for business.
Many people and business support the new enforcement; while others disagree with the just two week old parking changes.

City Manager Mark Stephens said the parking enforcement idea was created to prevent people from parking in those prime spots in the heart of downtown New Bern for eight hours at a time, specifically the employees of the area businesses. But with some business owners unhappy, city leaders might have to tweak the system.

Stephens was unable to elaborate specifically on what those tweaks might entail, but he made it clear that the city is listening. He said, "Our board is currently working with those who are having issues with our parking to try to find the positive outcomes for them and their businesses, and the citizens alike. I think our board is definitely listening; their ears are open to these suggestions."

Stephens emphasized that any future changes would not include paid parking in the current downtown spaces.

Some of the unhappy businesses in the area include restaurants which have large staffs at a given time.
City officials also remind downtown goers there are three free lots in the downtown area with no time limit restrictions.

Parking enforcement started Monday in downtown New Bern.

New part-time parking enforcers will patrol the streets of downtown from 8am-4pm Monday through Friday.

They'll use an electronic chalk system to enforce the posted two-hour time limits in the area.

Employees, business owners and anyone who intends to park for more than two-hours should use the three parking lots available for public use.

Parking is still free, but the two-hour limit will be enforced.

You can read all about the new parking enforcement here.

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Beginning July 9th drivers in New Bern will need to pay special attention to where they are parking, as changes and stricter enforcement will be implemented citywide.

Officials from the city say they will be hiring 3 to 4 part-time parking enforcers who will be trained by the New Bern Police Department and the Visitor and Convention Center.

Those parking enforcers will be patrolling streets Monday through Friday between 8:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. using an "electronic chalk" system to monitor license plates to ensure drivers are obeying the posted 2-hour time limits.

According to Ward 1 Alderman Sabrina Bengel, who represents the downtown area, the point of the enforcement is to help keep prime parking spaces along the streets open for customers. She says, "It's a positive thing that we have a lot of people visiting our downtown and we want to make sure they're welcome and that they feel good about our community. We want to make sure they have a place to park and turnover, and we want to make sure our employees have safe parking as well."

Employees and business owners are now also being asked to park in one of the three all-day parking lots scattered throughout the downtown area, instead of parking on the streets. A traffic study conducted by the city showed that all three of those lots were less than an 8-minute walk to any destination in the downtown area.

Visitors who enjoy spending the day in the downtown area did raise concerns over the strictly enforced 2-hour time limit.

Margaret Post says, "I'm a shopper, so you tell me to be out of here in 2 hours and I'm in trouble. I won't come here. I'll go somewhere else, and have dinner elsewhere."

Even with the changes to enforcement, parking will remain free in all of New Bern's public downtown parking areas.

The first time a parking ticket is issued to a vehicle, the driver will receive only a warning, but the second infraction comes with a $25.00 fine.