When it comes to the annual, dog-eat-dog competition that is summer street parking in shore towns, residents are asking: Where do you draw the line?
In several towns, it turns out, you draw it yourself. Responsibility for creating the white lines that mark off driveway entrances from parking spots — a testy issue for many residents — is vastly different from town to town.
Public Works handles it in Ocean City. Police systematically paint the lines in Margate, while the residents themselves are responsible in Ventnor.
Ventnor even gives out a handy diagram to show residents and homeowners where and how to paint the white lines — with 4-inch lines starting three feet from the driveway, extending out seven feet, using “alkyd, latex, or long-life epoxy resin paint.”
The result, however, is that almost no one in Ventnor has actually done it.
“There’s not too many, if you notice,” said Betty Lou Sochocky, who lives about a block from Ventnor Avenue. “I just always assumed that was the way it was supposed to be.”
Sochocky has her own strategy, though: “In the summer, you park and you don’t move your car all weekend. That’s about it.”
New resident Marisol Colon certainly found that out.
“It’s first come, first serve, pretty much,” she said on her mostly white-line-free street. “I’m learning, that’s for sure.”
In Margate, though, police Chief David Wolfson was surprised to learn that Ventnor leaves its lines to its residents. His department is vigilant in maintaining the complex patterns of white lines, triangles, X’s and rectangles that set its streets apart from Ventnor, which limits its city-created markings to state-mandated yellow curbs and intersection setbacks.
“Normally, we do it when a road is being reconstructed or repaved,” Wolfson said. “We take care of all yellow curbs, driveway lines, anything to do with parking spaces.”
The standard three-foot distance from the driveway usually applies, though Wolfson said some are made a little longer depending on how the driveway is laid out.
The result of having literal guidelines might have an effect on drivers. From May 1 to Sept. 30, 2012, Margate recorded 53 blocked driveway violations to Ventnor’s 116.
Though, as homeowner Alan Zakuto said, “If somebody is over that white line, it’s my responsibility (to report them), not Margate’s. I don’t bother unless they’re really blocking the driveway.”
“On holidays, you see people parked in yards,” Donna Glestein added.
Julia Dotzman, of Margate, said she appreciates that Margate marks out driveway entrances, “though they’re a little behind on painting. But that’s OK.”
“Sometimes a car is a little bit over the line,” like in front of her neighbor, Dotzman said, “but that line means a lot. Because she couldn’t get out.”
Dawn Scabone, meanwhile, said she loves that Margate painted the lines, because visitors now know what they are and aren’t supposed to do.
“People don’t need their holidays ruined because there’s no defined spaces,” she said. In Margate, “If you’re parking where you’re not supposed to and you’re towed away, that’s on you.”
But Brigantine also leaves marking territory in front of a house to its occupants, Public Works Director Ernie Purdy said.
“That’s all on the resident,” Purdy said. “We do not paint the white (lines), only curbing, like the yellow by hydrants, stop signs and the 25 feet from intersections” — all state-mandated.
“We used to paint the blue curbs for the handicapped,” he added, but the problem is that people move.”
The main reasons why white lines are left to residents, Purdy said, “are manpower issues, maintenance issues and the cost of it as far as painting. It’s kind of weird that Margate does it.”
Wildwood Crest has a Traffic Maintenance Department that handles painting of curbs and yellows, though usually not white lines.
“No one has a right to block a driveway, and if someone does, the property owner has the right to have that vehicle towed,” borough Administrator Kevin Yecco said. “Wildwood Crest has been fairly well-regulated in that regard and hasn’t had that many issues with blocking driveways.”
In Ocean City, meanwhile, it’s a matter of trust — if the police are going to ticket drivers for parking over the white line, they want to make sure it’s a line the city painted and not someone else.
“We discourage residents from doing it,” Capt. Stephen Ang said of painting white lines. “Residents oftentimes don’t know the guidelines. ... We have to go out and take care of it. So if we enforce it, we know it was done right.”
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