Fifty dollars to park? Not so fast.
The days of sudden price-gouging for Atlantic City casino garages and parking lots during concerts and special events may soon be over.
An ordinance on the agenda for Wednesday's City Council meeting would dramatically increase the fines for violating the city’s code on parking rates, raising the maximum fine from $100 to $1,000 for not notifying the city of any change and requiring a court appearance.
The move comes as a direct response to the controversial price increases for the free beach concerts over the summer, city Licensing and Inspections Director Dale Finch said. For the Blake Shelton concert July 31, Caesars Atlantic City and Bally’s Atlantic City each charged $50 to park, with Bally’s dropping its rate to $40 for the Aug. 3 Lady Antebellum concert.
“This really came about because of some of the gouging that took place at several events this summer,” Finch said. “We have procedures in place to deal with that, but they weren’t being (effective). After the first concert, when some places increased their rates to $50, we issued some summonses through the Mercantile Department.”
According to the city code, all rates for the 65 licensed parking facilities in Atlantic City — a list that no longer includes Revel, Showboat, Atlantic Club and Trump Plaza since the casinos closed — must be approved in advance by the licensing director. Any changes to the rate schedules must be filed with the Division of Local Vehicle Licensing and approved by the director, and a separate item mandates that the director approve any special rates for special events and conventions.
Finch said the deadline to submit rate changes is at least 48 hours in advance.
He added that the businesses issued summonses included Caesars, Bally’s and several private lots. He did not know what fines were issued, if any.
“They’ve all since complied,” Finch said of the notification rules. “They all understand (if) they want to increase the rates for special events, I, through this department, have to approve it.”
Fines for most violations are only $100, with fines of $200 for various illumination, landscaping, paving, booth design or approval violations — plus a maximum $200 fine for using “physical violence against a city employee.”
The proposed ordinance, set to be introduced by Councilman Aaron Randolph, would raise the maximum penalty for those violations from $200 to $2,000.
The current city code also specifically does not require a court appearance for a parking license violation, while the proposed ordinance would mandate one.
As for what rates he would approve, Finch said rates that seem “reasonable” would be acceptable.
“Unreasonable,” he explained, “would be going from $10 to $50.”
Randolph could not be reached for comment Tuesday. A representative of Caesars Entertainment, which owns Caesars and Bally’s, declined to comment.
Contact Steven Lemongello:
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