Oak Island is gearing up to implement a paid parking system for the first time. (Port City Daily/File photo)

NC - Paid parking season arrives: Here’s what it will cost and what beach towns gain

SOUTHEASTERN N.C. — Many coastal communities from Pender to Brunswick counties will begin their paid-parking programs starting March 1, with a few slated to kick off in April.

Parking costs, passes and timelines have shifted for some areas, in some instances costing beach-goers more. Yet, financial gains to area municipalities help offset beach upkeep and property tax rate increases, defraying costs from residents.

Port City Daily has compiled a list of details below for beaches within 50 miles of Wilmington. Click the beach name to be taken to the paid parking website.

Surf City

In partnership with Pivot Parking, Surf City will begin enforcement of its paid spaces March 1 through Oct. 31, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Surf City implemented its program in 2021 and received roughly $400,000 its inaugural season, April to October, which increased to $659,952 during 2022. Changes were made last year to start the season earlier, March 1, bump up rates and add spaces, now equaling over 1,300.  

Rates are:

  • Hourly: $5 per hour for spots closest to the beach; $3 an hour for outlying lots and spaces
  • Daily passes: $25
  • Weekly passes: $80

Residents receive free passes for up to two vehicles and can buy more for $100. Visitors can purchase season passes for $270 to $300.

Surf City projects $1.3 million in parking revenue in its 2022-2023 fiscal year budget.

Monies collected help fund beach renourishment through the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers


Read also

Paid Beach Parking begins tomorrow for Horry County Residents, myrtlebeachsc.com / February 28, 2023


The city received the go-ahead from the General Assembly in 2021 to use some of its fees for renourishment. Statute § 160A-301 dictates revenue from on-street metered parking on public streets — not town-owned lots — can only go toward maintenance for a paid parking program.

Municipalities must petition legislators for an exemption to utilize proceeds as allowed for off-street parking. Those monies can fund needs benefitting public use, such as combatting beach erosion or paying for lifeguards.

The GA has granted exceptions for Atlantic Beach, Beaufort, Carolina Beach, Kure Beach, Sunset Beach, Wrightsville Beach, Holden Beach and the City of Wilmington.

READ MORE: State law restricted use of on-street parking revenues, until legislators exempted Wrightsville Beach

Topsail Beach

Last year, Topsail Beach regulated one of its southern lots, garnering payment for about 27 spots, Port City Daily previously reported. The town received $83,206 in 2022 prior to its 70/30 split with Otto, the parking contractor.

This year it’s considering an expansion, with town commissioners meeting March 8 to discuss adding 172 spots at Topsail’s 22 oceanfront lots. Estimates aren’t available yet as to the amount of funds it could receive by expanding its program.

[Ed. note: This will be updated following any action taken by the commissioners at its upcoming meeting.]

Parking costs currently are:

  • Hourly: $5
  • Daily: $25

Topsail does not list weekly or annual passes.

Violations are $50 and decrease to $25 if paid the same day or increase to $75 if paid after 30 days of the citation.

Enforcement is March 1 through Oct. 31, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

North Topsail Beach

Parking is paid year-round in North Topsail — technically located in both Pender and Onslow counties. More than 900 spaces are paid in town-owned lots from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the northern end, with seasonal passes available to drive onto the beach.

Read more.