The battle begins … for a good parking spot at the Jersey Shore
Before you even put a foot in the sand, there's one thing that can get you more heated than the hot summer sun when taking a trip to the beach — trying to find a parking spot.
Jersey Shore municipalities only have so much space to fit all the vehicles coming from out of town.
There may be room for you in a private lot, but that can cost you at least $25 in some spots.
On a nice summer Saturday in Manasquan, the paid lots are typically filled to capacity by 10 a.m., said Police Chief Michael Bauer.
There are no meters in the borough. Motorists go block by block until they see an open space.
"They might be eight, nine blocks from the beach by 11-12 o'clock," Bauer said. "The parking just gets further and further away from the beach."
During the last full week of June, 38 parking tickets were issued by borough officers, according to Bauer. Certain parking spaces have time limits based on their location — one hour by the inlet, for example.
"It's a one-hour time zone, but we're not checking at one hour and one minute to make sure the car is gone," Bauer said. "We're not here to write tickets."
The city of Wildwood officially launched daily parking on the beach on the weekend of June 15-16. Four-wheel drive vehicles can park right on the sand for $10, and stay there from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m.
Commissioner Pete Byron said the initiative has exceeded expectations so far, and it's "relieved some of the stress" on the west side of the city where there are no meters and residents have strangers parked outside their homes, sometimes for days at a time.
"It creates a lot of tension between the homeowners when they can't even park in front of their own homes," Byron said.
Some visitors, he added, fail to realize how big their car actually is, and end up blocking part of someone's driveway.
Byron said their beach parking essentially offers an "infinite amount of spots."
"We could provide parking for a couple thousand cars and it really wouldn't even make a dent in the available space," he said.
Wildwood's beach is the widest in the state.