Within the next two weeks, city officials expect to meet with merchants and residents who have complained of losing business or being unnecessarily inconvenienced since parking meter hours were extended beyond 5 p.m. in some parts of Newport Beach.
City Traffic Engineer Richard M. Edmonston said city officials also expect to conduct public hearings on the issue in March.
As of Jan. 1, the city extended meter operations to 6 p.m. or 10 p.m., depending on the area of town. The increase was designed to generate revenue for law enforcement and litter control. Meter revenues last year were a little more than $1 million.
But the action produced an outcry from some residents, merchants and their customers. There were complaints that some meters run only for an hour at a time and that meters are difficult to read where lighting is poor, Edmonston said.
While most of the extended meters are in business areas, some are in areas where residents are affected.
"The concern is primarily: If you live near one of these areas and you want to have a couple of friends over, maybe that doesn't make sense for them to have to put money in the parking meter," Edmonston said.
Officials including members of the city's off-street parking committee will attempt to "fine tune" the parking policy when they meet with residents, he said.
Although Newport Beach has had parking meters in some areas of town for 30 years, they were not installed in Corona del Mar until a year ago. Robert Zweber, owner of Zweber Pharmacy in Corona del Mar and Balboa Island Pharmacy on Marine Avenue, said the new meter hours have hurt his businesses, which close at 6 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.
"It's very simple with us," Zweber said. "Any time you make it inconvenient for people to come into my pharmacy, it hurts my business."
But Edmonston said the new meter hours help merchants who depend on a quick turnover, such as fast food restaurants and dry cleaners.
"We're willing to work with the local merchants," Edmonston said. "The problem is we have to get a balance."