Fake permits make parking a beach in New Hampshire coastal town

| August 15, 2013

The summer may be drawing to a close, but parking troubles at the coastal town of Seabrook, New Hampshire, look like they’re just beginning. A spotlight was thrown on the issue of fake permits last week when a police officer discovered that owners of beach properties have been forging parking placards and distributing the fakes to renters, family, and friends.

The counterfeit placards aggravate ongoing parking problems that have plagued the town for some time: There’s more demand for parking spaces than there is supply, despite Seabrook’s permit parking program.

Boats off the coast of Seabrook, New Hampshire

Seabrook, NH is the latest town to come to grief due to intense competition for beach parking spots. Image of this beautiful seashore from sskennel.

Under the program, motorists are issued one of two permits: green stickers for residents who receive them at the yearly registration of their vehicle and brown parking placards for property owners who don’t register their vehicles in Seabrook. Local signage provides instruction as to where cars with brown placards or green stickers can park.

Still, supply is scarce. Beach residents can, of course, park in their driveways, but some grumble about property owners who have widened their driveways to such an extent that they’ve eclipsed the public roadway, thereby reducing already precious parking supply.

Competition for parking spaces rises with the influx of out-of-town visitors during the summer months. Seabrook, unlike most beaches along the New Hampshire coast, is not owned by the state, nor does it restrict public access to its beach.

Parking is tightly regulated on its narrow streets, though, and the town features a large, free parking lot along Route 1A, the main thoroughfare connecting Seabrook to Hampton Beach just two miles away. However, beachgoers who park at the lot have to compete for spaces with patrons of Castaways, which abuts the lot. The restaurant can seat more than 250 diners.

Motorists also fail to heed the parking lot’s divisions. Visitors to Hampton, which is owned by the state, sometimes park in the Seabrook-owned portion of the lot (the area from the restrooms south) instead of parking in the state-owned section (the area from the restrooms north). The infractions upset Seabrook residents, who feel that their tax dollars end up subsidizing parking for non-residents.

Local officials have begun exploring potential solutions to the issues, such as installing parking meters at the lot, making it less attractive for beachgoers. The cost of installation could be underwritten by the state, while the town could enforce and maintain the meters, said Seabrook executive councilor Chris Sununu. Seabrook could share the revenue from the meters with the state, he said.

Another option would be for Seabrook to purchase the state-owned portion of the lot, suggested selectman Aboul Khan.

Seagull on the water in NH

A Seabrook seagull. From Lori Stalteri.

As for those forging parking placards, town officials recommend that the guilty parties be made to forfeit the authentic placards issued to them. Without genuine placards, owners would have to compete for parking in the beach district just like everyone else.

Town officials are considering convening a committee of stakeholders to examine the issues and determine solutions. If that happens, voters may see new town policies crop up on the town warrant next March, said selectman Ray Smith.

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Category: Enforcement, Municipal, Parking, Parking management

About the Author ()

Cielo Lutino is a freelance writer and editor based in Brooklyn, NY. She has written for such publications as the L Magazine and Portland Monthly, and her literary nonfiction has appeared in journals such as the Los Angeles Review and Cold Mountain Review.

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