Surf City Paid Parking

Paid Parking is the latest project Town Council is working on. Although this is not a new conversation, we understand this change will have significant change on our community if it is implemented. Of course with any project there comes additional hard work and big decisions. As we move forward with keeping our island the tranquil paradise that we all LOVE, we ask for your assistance in the process of growth. We understand that growth is not easy, but in order to preserve our paradise we must grow together.

The following information is aimed at providing details as to how we got to this point, what factors are influencing decisions that will be made, and how the program could look throughout our town. We urge you to please read through the information provided and ask questions at the end. Staff will compile questions submitted and try to provide a response as soon as possible.

On February 12, 2021, at 9 a.m., Town staff will be available for a 1-hour long drop in session to be held at the Surf City Welcome Center. We invite anyone with questions to come in and talk with us. Immediately following the drop in session, Council will hold a Special Meeting to continue their discussion on the implementation of the paid parking program.

The map shown above breaks the Town up into four (4) separate areas from South to North. As you'll see from the map legend, areas in blue/red/green will be designated as managed parking areas.

How did we get here?

In 2013 the Surf City/North Topsail Beach (SCNTB) Storm Damage Reduction Project (Federal Beach Nourishment Project) was approved by the Federal Government. However, it took until 2019 for the funding to fall into place and the timeline of events truly started to roll. The SCNTB Storm Damage Reduction Project is a $237 million project in partnership with the United States Army Corps of Engineer (USACE). The project will place a total of 12 million cubic yards of sand on our beach! The USACE will construct a new berm 25' wide and 14' high with a 300' foot wide beach. This is a fifty-year project, in which the beach will be renourished every six years. A "once in a lifetime" opportunity for Surf City and N. Topsail Beach and a true game changer in preserving our tiny island! Link to USACE project specifications https://www.saw.usace.army.mil/Portals/59/docs/coastal_storm_damage_reduction/SCNTB/M%20-%20Real%20Estate.pdf

Based on this commitment to preserve our island and beach, the Town is faced with decisions as to how we will fund the current project as well as future renourishment cycles. A breakdown of those figures and other information will be provided below that explains the Town's responsibilities and execution.

USACE Typical Dune Profile
TI Paradise

Timeline of Paid Parking...

The SCNTB Storm Damage Reduction Project requires that the town provide specific access and parking standards. Public access must be available every one-half mile, and parking must be within one-quarter mile of any access.

In April 2020 the Town was contacted by a pay station vendors to talk about their products and implementation of paid parking.

In May 2020 the Mayor posted a general Q&A to start soliciting feedback and input on paid parking from our community.

In June 2020 a rep from another vendor met with town staff to tour the town and look at the current parking layout.

In June 2020, representatives of the Town met with the Town of Carolina Beach, to understand their program (Pay Stations (kiosks) and 3rd party enforcement).

In August 2020 we continued meeting with parking vendors on referral to discuss ideas and potential solutions. Also, beginning the process of developing a community wide mobile application for other town service delivery and communications

October 2020 reaffirmed priority through Council work session to continue working on a paid parking solution for the Town

In October staff began developing a request for proposals to include the development of a mobile application solution to include the town app as well as a paid parking and enforcement solution

Representatives from Otto Connect presented to Council at the November 20th work session to go over their product in general detail

January 15th, Council was provided an overview of the paid parking mobile application, how it worked, and to discuss the parameters surrounding its implementation.

The Parking Map, Ordinance Amendments & Fee Schedule were recommended at the February 2nd regular council meeting. Council felt the need to provide more information and input from the public before moving forward.

A Special Workshop Meeting has been scheduled for 10:00 am on Friday, February 12th. The public is encouraged to come from 9:00 am - 10:00 am for an opportunity to meet with staff and council to answer questions before the meeting.

Public Safety & Parking Enforcement Issues

As reported, the Town has seen a consistent increase in the need for parking enforcement as a surge in visitors has led to people parking anywhere they can throughout Town, including rights of ways, private property, and in areas that cannot fit a vehicle.

This has led to increased conflicts with pedestrians and bicyclists and creating potentially hazardous situations.

By designating certain areas or zones for parking, enforcement can focus on those locations and help direct parking in a more orderly fashion demonstrated on the draft parking map.

Other options to handle the enforcement include hiring more enforcement officers or police officers, which comes at a large expense to the town, including vehicles, insurance, retirement, etc. Utilizing a 3rd party enforcement company will eliminate the need to keep extra personnel on staff year-round, outside of our busy season.

So What About Paid Parking?

The basic concept of the paid parking program is to utilize a mobile application, eliminating the need for costly pay stations or kiosks as well as long term maintenance and liability to the Town. Prior investigation in other solutions required the Town to purchase these at an estimated cost exceeding $250,000. The Town will establish an official parking map, highlighting the areas in which citizens and visitors are able to park. These areas include off street parking or parking lots and on-street parking, 2-hr parking zones, and utilizing minimal rights of way mainly for federal compliance by providing public access and parking to the beach. We would also set up an alternative option for anyone that does not have a mobile device, or they forgot it at home, or their battery has died.

The proposal includes a fee schedule to address hourly, daily, weekly, and seasonal passes. Options also include the ability for the Town to provide free parking for residents, validating two vehicles through license plate numbers, linking eligibility to the utility account holder. Additional passes (up to two more) may be validated through a special permit process for other household members that drive. The mobile solution allows for a highly customizable experience for the Town to be able to address circumstances unique to Surf City and not a “out of the can” solution.

Understanding the unique nature of the Central Business District surrounding the main portion of town, we have built into the solution the ability to provide business owners within this area validated parking as well as options for those businesses to obtain reduced rate parking for their employees.

Parking would be enforced from 9am to 5pm, which allows for early morning beach activities, nightlife, and dining to occur without having to worry about paying to park. Certain areas along Roland Avenue, N. Topsail Drive, and the lot adjacent to Beach Bunny to be 2- hr parking only to allow for additional access for transient visitors.

Proposed Parking Rates:

Surf City Resident (mainland or island) - FREE




$250/Seasonal Pass

Along with the recommended fee schedule above, Council may consider offering a 10% discount on Annual Passes for Military Personnel (active duty or retired), Senior Citizens, and residents living in the Extra Territorial Jurisdiction (ETJ) of Surf City. For residents not in these areas or qualifications, a seasonal pass can equate to $1.17 per day.

As a reminder, residents of Surf City, whether on the mainland or island, will receive: FREE PARKING

Now, let's take a look at some of the driving forces in regards to the funding needed for Beach Nourishment:


With the 50-year project commitment from the US Army Corp, the Town is responsible for a portion of the initial construction cost as well as recurring (6-year intervals) costs for renourishment

Renourishment Costs: Based on best- and worst-case scenarios provided by the Corps, those costs will range from $173,438,452 to $227,898,125 over the term of the project.

The State covers 25% of the renourishment costs and Surf City will pay the remaining 25%. This figure equates to $86,719,226 to $113,949,062.50. Although the 25% State share has historically been provided through the State Budget it is not guaranteed. Surf City's portion will equate to an additional $1.97 - $2.6 million annually over the project life.

Current financials of the Town:

The Town has been very prudent through the years to build up a beach nourishment fund adequate to handle storm recovery. This was demonstrated through the latest Sand Haul project following Hurricane Florence, which was in total, approximately $14,000,000.00. Of that $14 million price tag, approximately $10 million of that was reimbursable from FEMA. To this day, the Town has not received reimbursements from FEMA. It's not a matter of "if" but "when" we get that money, therefore, we're keeping a close eye on current cash reserves.

When we look at the beach nourishment fund and the initial project construction cost, we'll have a gap in funding which will have to be closed. Paid Parking revenues will assist the Town in closing that gap, reducing the reliance to add additional funding coming directly from property owners and taxes.

Due to the delay in reimbursements from FEMA, as well as successful grant awards, the current beach nourishment fund will not be fully available until those funds have been received.

Has the Town Explored Other Avenues for Additional Revenue?

• Explore Food and Beverage Tax?

• Explore Additional Room Occupancy Tax?

• Explore “luxury tax”?

All three options determined to be non-attainable or very difficult through the General Assembly.

The Gap in Funding

It is not recommended to deplete the Beach Nourishment Fund for initial construction as there will be ancillary costs associated with the beach nourishment project. Recommending maintaining a reserve at a minimum of $5 million to cover those costs such as crossover construction, maintenance, etc.

The intention of the Town is to minimize financing the overall project to reduce the interest liability. Through initial, basic analysis, extending out financing of a $13 million Gap, could cost the Town approximately $6 million. Therefore, it should be the Town’s utmost priority to reduce principle on the overall Gap and to be prepared for future renourishment cycles.

By leveraging additional revenues, the Town may be in the position to fund future capital needs identified through various plans and studies (streets, sidewalks, parks, greenways, etc.)

What is All the Talk About Those Lots on S. Shore Drive?

The SCNTB Storm Damage Reduction Project (Beach Nourishment Project) requires that the town provide specific access and parking standards. Public access must be available every one-half mile, and parking must be within one-quarter mile of the access. In 2015 the town began work identifying lots and access points that would meet the criteria for the USACE parking and access standards. At that time, 7-8 lots were identified that would fulfill the requirements. In 2020 the town moved forward with property acquisition on the lots that were still vacant. These four parking areas must be utilized for public parking in order to move forward with the USACE storm damage reduction project.

Map showing radius around public access locations to determine parking needs

The new proposed parking lots will hold a maximum of ten parking spots with one dedicated spot for handicap parking. The site design work will include plantings and privacy fencing around the perimeter. Staff is currently working with an engineering firm to solidify final design details.

Questions From the Community:

1. Can we do seasonal paid parking instead of year round?

The seasonal parking enforcement is proposed to run from April 1st through October 31st. Times outside of the season will be free of charge.

2. Can we do a discounted parking pass for Pender County residents?

Council is currently proposing a seasonal pass that provides a discounted rate. Depending on how often you visit the beach, it may be cheaper than using a daily or weekly rate. The seasonal pass equates to approximately $1.17 per day.

3. Does Onslow County give funds? If so, how does it compare to what Pender contributes? If so, can we do a discounted parking pass for Onslow County?

Onslow County partners with Surf City in many ways and are great partners to our town’s success, but at this time they do not contribute directly to our town’s financial budget. Seasonal passes will be available for Onslow County neighbors.

4. What if an employer doesn’t want to pay for employee passes? This is more of an expense for business owners during a pandemic. This could further limit the hiring pool and those willing to work on the island.

The Town would offer business owners within the Central Business District the availability of up to four seasonal passes free of charge. Beyond that, the Town would offer a discounted seasonal rate from April through October based on the number of employees.

5. Can we explain the breakdown of cost of beach nourishment and the funds we receive from Pender and any other sources?

The Town is moving forward with the USACE federal beach nourishment project in which Surf City will be obligated to pay approximately $25 million. Pender County currently provides $180,000 annually towards beach nourishment for Surf City. The breakdown is that the federal government pays 65% of the initial beach nourishment project cost, as well as state funds that will contribute another 17.5%. This leaves 17.5% (approximately $25 million) of the cost for our town to pay, which is where the $180,000 from Pender County will be applied. After the funds from Pender County are applied, there will still be a significant balance to be paid by the town. Revenues from paid parking will help bridge the gap in funding for the initial project costs and the renourishment projects that have to be completed every 6 years to sustain the beach.

6. If you own a business, do you have to hire someone to manage? How reliable is the 3rd party? If parking isn’t available or is a hassle small businesses will lose customers.

Property owners control their own private property. Business owners have the right to tow vehicles that are illegally parked or not patronizing their business. The Town would encourage private property owners to post signs on their property notifying people of their regulations.

7. How does the NTB, SC, & TB work together?

All three towns work together to communicate common issues island-wide. If a separate town implements paid parking, there would be a commitment to try and provide consistency. Ultimately, each town operates on a separate budget and is a separate government entity.

8. Will paid parking eliminate people parking on the sides of our roads and creating safety hazards? How will this be enforced?

Parking along the sides of roads or within the right of way will be limited to areas that are required for federal compliance. In addition, other right of way parking is shown where there's not a parking lot to accommodate public parking. The Town would utilize a 3rd party enforcement contractor to manage parking in all areas of town. Through the 3rd party enforcement contractor, if vehicles are parked outside of the designated zones they will be subject to violations and fines. The enforcement system will track potential repeat offenders and options for towing may be implemented.

9. If we are charging for parking can we fund lifeguards?

Adding lifeguards to the beach is currently being evaluated through a 5-year Ocean Rescue Strategic Plan. If lifeguards become an option, proceeds from paid parking can go to help offset this cost. Please fill out their survey here

10. What about homeowners vs renters? Will it be up to the homeowner to allow their renters to have their passes? How does this work? Lots of military rent in Surf City.

The parking validation will be based on the utility customer account. If you are a long term renter or the utilities are in your name, you will be subject to the resident validation of two free passes.

11. Can it be a windshield pass, or mirror hanger, etc. that would be easily changed from vehicle to vehicle so that it can be shared with childcare providers, family, etc. during times that parents are working or family is visiting, etc.? Also, if you buy or sell a vehicle or are in an accident, you can just put your pass in your new vehicle easily.

Parking validation will be done through license plate registration and verification. Up to two license plates per utility account will be validated. If the resident buys a new car and obtains a new license plate, they will be able to manage their account directly from the parking app. Also, if there's additional drivers in the household, they may apply for a special permit that could be validated through town administration.

12. What about our less fortunate members of the community who use the beach as a free resource? Will there be ANY free parking for those who simply can’t afford it?

Certain times of day will be free, specifically in the morning hours and late afternoon/evening. The parking lot at the corner of Wilmington Ave and N. Topsail Drive (423 N. Topsail Drive) will also remain free parking. Also, there are areas off the island that will not be paid parking. Parking will not be enforced out of season.

Proposed Free Lot

13. What about volunteers on field trips? Could the town have free passes for circumstances such as this? Parents volunteer their time to help our schools on field trips and often visit Surf City Soundside Park, etc.

A special permit may be validated through the Town, coordination with a designated representative ahead of time will need to take place.

14. Will there be additional parking spots available and will the ones we have be improved?

The Town is in the process of adding two additional parking lots within the Central Business District as well as additional lots along S. Shore Drive.

15. Will there be more handicap parking?

Not at this time, however, handicap parking will remain free.

16. Could you contract with a park-and-ride shuttle service to help?

The options for a private shuttle service would be available.

17. Will it be free after 5pm?

The proposed parking hours will be from 9am to 5pm to allow for early morning beach activities as well as evening dining and shopping free of charge.

18. Will there be ANY spots you can park for free? What about the parks and businesses?

Parks will maintain free parking but should be utilized for park use only. The parking lot at the corner of N. Topsail Drive and Wilmington Ave. (423 N. Topsail Drive) will be free parking as well.

19. What happens when you have employee turnover? Do mainland businesses get employee passes?

Employers can manage their employee passes on the app as employee turnover occurs with no delay in transfer to new employees. Passes will only be available to businesses in the Central Business District in the areas where paid parking is implemented.

20. Do you have to pay the total cost of the seasonal pass at once or will there be a payment plan option to pay as you go?

This depends on the company that is chosen as the third-party manager and if this would be an option in their program software and management tools. Council will inquire about payment options as companies are interviewed.

21. Why do we need more revenue if we have so many additional houses/neighborhoods currently being constructed?

New construction takes years to generate revenue and we have a significant deficit that is needed to begin our beach nourishment project this year.

22. Why do we need extra funds for beach nourishment? It seems like we would have enough by the time we begin the project.

FEMA funds after federally declared storms (i.e. Hurricane Matthew , Florence, etc.) work on a reimbursement system which can complicate the funding cycle and available funds in our town budget. Currently, the town is still waiting to receive the $10.6 million that is reimbursable for repairs from Hurricane Florence. The town is obligated to pay our portion of the initial construction cost (approximately $25 million) regardless of whether we have received any prior reimbursements. As a part of the federal project, renourishment cycles will be completed every 6-years, which the Town will be required to pay 25% of that cost each time.

The federal government pays 65% of the initial beach nourishment project cost, as well as state funds that will contribute another 17.5%. This leaves 17.5% (approximately $25 million) of the initial cost for our town to pay, which is where the $180,000 from Pender County will be applied. After the funds from Pender County are applied, there will still be a significant balance to be paid by the town. Revenues from paid parking will help bridge the gap in funding for the initial project costs and the renourishment projects that have to be completed every 6 years to sustain the beach.

We Want to Hear From You:

Click Here to Submit Questions
  1. Click Here to Submit Questions

2. Leave us a voicemail at 910-338-5510:

3. Attend the Special Workshop on Friday, February 12th at the Surf City Welcome Center, located at 102 N. Shore Drive. At 9:00 am Council and Staff will be available to answer questions before the Council meeting at 10:00 am.

Oceanfront Owners - Federal Easements

The USACE storm damage reduction project requires that each oceanfront property owner convey an easement to the Town of Surf City prior to the start of construction. Although the town has been successful in collecting easements there are still approximately 19% of the easements still not collected.

Each oceanfront property owner should have received, signed and returned your oceanfront easement. Each owner was previously mailed an easement in mid-summer 2020. If you have not received your oceanfront easement or have questions regarding the easement please contact the Town Clerk at clerk@surfcitync.gov or 910-328-4131x106.

Sample Beach Nourishment Perpetual Easement

Curious about where your easement line lies on your property? Use the link below to view aerial maps of each oceanfront parcel with the easement line delineated on the map. The aerial shots are from pre Hurricane Florence. http://www.surfcitync.gov/2370/Beach-Nourishment