Parking at the Jersey Shore has always been a challenge for locals and visitors, but the latest news from Stone Harbor may shine a new light on that troublesome topic.

Stone Harbor Police Chief Thomas Schutta explained during last week's City Council Meeting that there have been 16 times more Parking Tickets issued last month compared to last year and it is because of the new parking payment system that eliminated parking kiosks in the town.  In May of 2023, there were 564 parking tickets issued, an extreme contrast to May of 2022 when there were just 33 parking tickets issued.

The explanation for this gets back to the changes that Stone Harbor implemented for the 2023 Summer season, following in the footsteps of other Cape May County shore towns like Sea Isle City, Ocean City, and Cape May. These towns are now using the ParkMobile App as the method for motorists to pay for parking instead of the use of Parking Kiosks or old-school parking meters. The App allows people to make payments for parking on their smartphones via credit card or debit card or a digital wallet and if they are away from their vehicle longer than expected, they can extend the paid parking remotely without having to walk back to the automobile.

The issue, as elaborated during the Stone Harbor City Council Meeting, is that under the other systems of paid parking, there would be a warning issued by the Police before the issue of a parking ticket. Now the warning comes through the ParkMobile App through alerts warning the vehicle's owner that their parking is about to expire. But in a world where we all get numerous notifications all day, every day on our phones, motorists parking in Stone Harbor seem to not be receiving or noticing these alerts warning them about the expiration of their virtual paid parking meters.

The reason why Cape May County towns have switched to this virtual parking system through the ParkMobile App is that it saves that municipality money on maintenance of parking meters or parking kiosks, while the city receives a direct payment of funds from the Virtual Parking Meters.  Now instead of Police Departments having "Meter Maids" or Class One Officers wandering around the town to look for parking offenses, this virtual system alerts the police of the parking violation so the officers will go straight to the location and assess the situation to issue a Parking Ticket.

So the next time you want to visit Stone Harbor, Sea Isle City, Cape May, or Ocean City, you should make sure to have that ParkMobile App setup on your smartphone and customize your alerts settings to make sure you get those warnings that your virtual parking meter is going to expire so you don't get a Parking Ticket.

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