WRIGHTSVILLE BEACH, N.C. (WECT) – Finding a parking space at Wrightsville Beach on a weekend can be a challenge, now, some people are finding out the hard way that sometimes what might look like a parking space — isn’t.
Several parking spaces along Mallard Street, near the Surf Club, have been painted black to indicate they are no longer valid parking spaces, but the blacked-out appearance wasn’t enough to stop people from parking there. Several people made posts on social media saying they received $150 tickets for parking in what they believed were simply spaces that had been repainted.
As of Tuesday morning, the town ground down the pavement to remove the paint altogether.
“It’s common practice for us to normally blackout spots before we get ready to remove them and then we get around eventually to basically grind them up,” Town Manager Tim Owens said.
Owens also said it should have been clear to anyone considering parking there that the spots were not for public use.
“It’s really clear, it was clearly blacked out. It’s not a parking spot, all the other ones are outlined in white — clearly not a parking spot,” he said.
But, not everyone agrees with that take. Sam Taylor uses the Mallard Street beach access every day to give surf lessons, the blacked-out parking spaces were confusing to him as a regular. Although Taylor hasn’t received any tickets for parking there, two of his friends have.
“So many people have gotten tickets at this one particular spot because there is no sign, there’s really no symbolism saying you can not park here, so I think it’s been confusing for a lot of people,” he said.
While the spots have now been ground to bare asphalt, until Tuesday the spots were simply painted black.
“When there was black paint down there, it looked like they were just putting a base coat over it and maybe they were going to come back and paint white over it… I know two people personally who parked here and thought that they both said the same thing. They thought, ‘oh, this was just a spot that they were going to redo and then paint over it again.’ So everyone was a little confused especially people who are here all the time,” Taylor said.
Due to the confusion that the spaces caused, Taylor said he thinks the town should cut people a break.
“You would think that Wrightsville Beach parking would work with and try to supplement and work with people who didn’t know. If it was a confusing situation, maybe it would be nice if they let people off the hook just this one time. I don’t think they’re going to need the money from those tickets desperately,” he said.
Owens said it is up to the parking company, not the town, to decide whether or not they void any of the parking citations.
Copyright 2021 WECT. All rights reserved.