Municipal Parking Advisory Committee Cape May


 January 16, 2023  

Members of City Council  

City of Cape May  

City Hall  

643 Washington Street  

Cape May, NJ 08204  

Re: Proposed Resolution 52-01-2023  

Ladies and Gentlemen:  

This letter is offered as a comment and request by all members of the Municipal Parking  Advisory Committee (the “MPAC” or the “Committee”). Their individual names are shown below.  

We understand that the agenda for your meeting to be held on January 17, 2023, includes consideration of proposed Resolution 52-01-2023. That resolution would regulate and apply uniform single calendar year terms to each City advisory committee appointed by Council. The expectation is that  each such body will be reviewed for performance and have its term extended one year at a time at  Council’s discretion based on such review.  

The Resolution as proposed, includes 2023 terms for three advisory bodies, not including the  MPAC. Respectfully, the undersigned Committee members believe that excluding the MPAC from the resolution does not serve the best interests of the City of Cape May and hereby request the resolution be amended to include the MPAC for 2023.  

In making their request, the Committee members ask the Council to consider the following:  

  1. Valuable Prior Work. The MPAC was originally formed under a 2018 Council resolution. It was directed at that time to study, report and recommend on matters of traffic and parking, a task which the  Committee performed and delivered in a series of detailed recommendations in 2018 and 2019. Among the multiple MPAC recommendations enacted by Council were (a) the rationalization of scarce parking spaces through differential pricing and (b) the initiation of a basic, free seasonal public jitney transit system to support parking and the community at large. In practice, the revenues derived from the parking reforms more than paid for the transit service, which itself was singularly successful for the  2019 season in carrying approximately 55,000 riders. Beyond the transit system costs, the Committee’s recommendations generated hundreds of thousands of dollars of surplus for the City’s general fund.  
  2. COVID. Prior to the City-wide COVID pause in the Spring of 2020, the MPAC continued to hold  regular meetings open to the public and studied means to enlarge center City parking resources. The  enlarged parking spaces at the Welcome Center and improvements at Bank Street lot are a result of  MPAC recommendations. While the COVID pandemic prevailed, the MPAC did not meet.  
  3. Mid-year 2022 Reactivation. In June 2022, City Council passed Resolution 151-06-2022, reactivating  the Committee. However, at that time, it tasked the Committee with substantially different objectives— the study, report and recommendations on a comprehensive transportation system, rather than focusing  on traffic and parking. The Council did not per se rename the Committee as a “Municipal Transit  Advisory Committee” which, in fact, it had become. The Committee was reconstituted with some new 

membership, but a majority of its volunteer members are pre-COVID veterans with the full range of experience from 2018.  

  1. Post-reactivation Work. Since September 2022, the MPAC has applied itself diligently to its new tasks. Since the re-activation was after mid-year and it would be pressed for 2023 recommendations prior to Spring, the Committee operated on an accelerated basis, holding regular meetings on a bi monthly basis open to the public and on Livestream. In preparation for delivery of 2023 work product,  in October 2022, the MPAC presented discrete recommendations covering reconfiguration of traffic on  Jackson Street in order to aid in its transportation system design.  
  2. Clearing Up Misunderstandings. In communicating by e-mail on January 10, 2023 a decision described as made by Council “not to renew” the MPAC for 2023, the mayor stated his view that there  was no need for an advisory body to continue working on parking solutions this year. However, given  the 2022 reactivation resolution, the focus of the MPAC has not been directed to parking. It has  been directed to development of an enhanced transportation system. As explained in a meeting  with the mayor on January 13, 2023, the MPAC had been working on its assigned task expeditiously  and expected to report to Council with first stage formal recommendations by sometime in February.  The communication of “non-renewal” applying a new calendar year rule to advisory bodies came as a  complete surprise to MPAC members and has now caused some slippage in that timetable. To clear up  any possible future misunderstandings, the members suggest further amendment to the proposed  resolution to change the Committee’s name to more accurately reflect the assignment Council gave it in  mid-2022, i.e. something like “Municipal Transit [or Transportation] Advisory Committee.”  
  3. Subject Matter Importance. The MPAC members believe that City-wide transportation is a subject  matter at least as important to the community as the topics (including, for example, bicycle safety) of  the three advisory bodies being “renewed.” In fact, the members believe that City-wide transportation  issues and related concerns remain among the most important issues in the Cape May community  today. We believe a broad public sounding would confirm they warrant serious additional work in the  short and long terms. Stopping efforts in mid-course just wastes valuable time.  
  4. Fair Expectation and Opportunity. The MPAC’s new tasks began in the Fall of 2022. As a result, it  has had only about six months for development of recommendations on those topics. There was no  year-end review of the Committee’s work such as had been prior practice with advisory bodies.  Moreover, its Council liaison (Ms. Sheehan), the member most intimately familiar with the work, had  no opportunity to pass on to a successor any evaluation of the Committee’s performance. Considering  the rationale of the proposed resolution that advisory bodies should have a year to be considered for  continuation, the MPAC simply has not been given a fair amount of time and opportunity for rational evaluation. This is confirmed by the fact that its phase 1 recommendations have not yet been completed  or reviewed with Council. By contrast, the members believe the other advisory bodies included in the  proposed resolution had the full year 2022 to demonstrate their performance.  

Advisory committees like the MPAC have played an important role making recommendations to  Council that have transformed public input into policymaking. Unlike informal “task forces,” they are  authorized by resolution, work on agendas published in advance, hold regularly scheduled meetings open  to the public, are accessible on livestream, keep minutes and make formal recommendations and  presentations to Council. The MPAC has performed regularly in that manner on all prior occasions and  should be allowed to do so during 2023 by being designated in the proposed resolution. 

In summary, and to be clear, the below MPAC members are not being critical of the features of  the proposed resolution. It can be argued to make sense from the standpoint of organization and  uniformity. However, we feel strongly, for the reasons stated above, the initial enactment of the  resolution should include the MPAC in recognition of its longstanding valuable work, the uncompleted  nature of that work in midstream after being re-tasked in mid-2022, and the service it can yet render  toward making and implementing transportation recommendations in 2023.  

 Respectfully submitted,  

 Bonnie Cassells  

 David Delenick  

 Robert Elwell  

 Job Itzkowitz  

 Mark Kulkowitz  

 James A. Testa  

 Timothy Walsh  

 (comprising all members of the MPAC)  

cc: City Manager  

 City Clerk