Cape Elizabeth has enacted changes to its parking ordinance to ban parking along Sea View Avenue, shown here, and part of Glen Avenue, seen branching off at left. Residents have objected to nonresident vehicle traffic clogging the street. Sean Murphy / The Forecaster

The Cape Elizabeth Town Council voted Monday night to approve changes that will restrict parking for those coming to Cliff House Beach and keep people from abusing permission to launch boats from Crescent Beach.

The council voted 6-1 to accept the parking ordinance changes at its March 8 meeting, with Council Chairperson James Garvin casting the lone dissenting vote. Garvin said he objected to restricting parking on the street near Cliff House Beach as it could lead to a flood of requests for similar bans on other streets in town.

“I think that resident-only parking is creating a significant precedent that I don’t think is either warranted here or one that we want to be dealing with, with the avalanche of requests that are going to follow,” he said.

Effective April 7, the changes will ban nonresident parking on the northwest side of Sea View Avenue on its entire length and on the east side beginning where it intersects with Glen Avenue. Nonresident parking on the east side of Glen Avenue from where it meets Sea View to Shore Road will also be off limits.

The changes cut off much of the parking access to Cliff House Beach, which local residents say has gotten crowded in recent years because the beach has appeared in online searches as a tourist destination.

“This summer reached a tipping point of very heavy use,” said Tom Mikulka, who lives on Mountain View Road, in reference to the summer of 2020.

Of the 133 residents on 37 streets in the area that responded to a survey Mikulka created in February, 82% think the volume of visitors has “changed the character of our neighborhood,” and 76% said their families avoid the beach due to the tourist traffic.

John Pearson, who lives on Elmwood Road, said he and his wife have walked down to the beach since they bought their home in 1999, but the impacts of more people, he said, are obvious.

“There’s more trash there than I’d remembered in the past,” he told the council.

The changes also limit parking on Crescent Beach to commercial fishing or people with permits to launch boats. The original ordinance allowed anyone to park a vehicle at the beach if they were loading or unloading a watercraft. Town Manager Matt Sturgis said the changes will cut down on abuses such as what happened in the summer of 2020.

“Last year we had people who would say they were launching, but they were ‘launching’ chairs,” Sturgis said.

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