Archive for Monday, April 26, 2010

Study: Habitual parking violators downtown rack up thousands in unpaid fines

A Lawrence parking meter officer checks vehicles in the parking lot behind the Eldridge Hotel at 7th and Vermont St. in this file photo.

A Lawrence parking meter officer checks vehicles in the parking lot behind the Eldridge Hotel at 7th and Vermont St. in this file photo.

April 26, 2010


They really do mean habitual.

As city commissioners consider whether to scale back a new $50 parking ticket given to habitual parking violators, a new report out of City Hall sheds light on how often some people get a parking ticket.

The study found that 85 people have received one of the new $50 fines since enforcement began in March. Those 85 people, according to the city’s data, had received 6,657 parking tickets in the previous two years — that’s a rate of about 40 per year.

Come to find out, most don’t just habitually overpark. They also are habitually forgetful when it comes to paying parking tickets. The report found that only six of the 85 people had paid all of their parking tickets over the last two years. The other 79 people owe the city about $25,000 in unpaid fines.

“Those numbers are huge,” said Mayor Mike Amyx.

Despite the big numbers from a few, some city commissioners said they believe the city ought to consider changes to the habitual parking provision, which has riled up downtown employees to the point that they submitted a petition with more than 700 names seeking its repeal.

“I just have a problem doing something that could discourage potential customers from coming downtown,” said Amyx, who owns a downtown barber shop. “I’m just not sure that this is good business.”

Commissioner Aron Cromwell also said he was leaning toward changing the system. Changes up for discussion include only charging the $50 fine to people who have five or more unpaid parking tickets in the last 30 days. Currently, the ordinance calls for the higher fine for anybody who has five or more parking tickets in the last 30 days, regardless of whether they have paid the previous tickets.

“Unfortunately, I don’t think there is a really good answer here,” Cromwell said. “I just wish we could come up with something that would encourage people to park in the long-term lots. It just seems like nobody in this town wants to use those long-term lots.”

Commissioners will discuss the issue at their meeting on Tuesday, which begins at 6:35 p.m. at City Hall.

Commissioners at their meeting also will discuss a host of other downtown issues. They include:

• Possible approval of a request to allow street cart food vendors to operate until 2:30 a.m. in downtown. Currently, city ordinance requires street vendors to close by 9 p.m. The new ordinance also would add the corner of Sixth and New Hampshire streets as an approved location for street vendors. The changes have been requested by a pair of Kansas University students who want to begin selling hamburgers, hot dogs and other food items to the late-night bar crowd, which frequently congregates near Sixth and New Hampshire streets to catch a KU bus.

• A request to add up to four 15-minute parking meters per block on Massachusetts Street from Sixth to 11th streets. Several downtown merchants have asked for the meters to give customers a way to quickly enter and exit a business. Meters on Massachusetts Street now have a two-hour time limit. If approved, the meters will be painted yellow to alert motorists that they are short term. Exact locations of where the meters should be placed in each block will be up for discussion Tuesday.

• Discussion of changing the city’s regulations for sidewalk hospitality areas in downtown. Currently, bars are prohibited from having a sidewalk seating area, unless it has no room for a patio in the back portion of their property. But the owners of Louise’s Downtown, 1009 Mass., are asking commissioners to change that regulation. Louise’s has a large patio area behind its building, but owners said they want a sidewalk space to compete with other establishments that have one. City Hall staff members said if a change is made, it would need to be made for all bar businesses downtown, meaning that essentially any bar in the downtown area could have a sidewalk seating area.


8 years, 1 month ago

Hey wilb - meter the 2 hour lots & all you are doing is giving employees more meters to plug. Employees shouldn't be anywhere near customer parking - other than to walk through it on the way to work!

gccs14r 8 years, 1 month ago

Amyx and Cromwell need to get a clue. The 85 scofflaws are obviously downtown employees (or business owners!), not customers. If the scofflaws don't pay up, it's time to start impounding cars. The spots they free up will be used by paying customers who might otherwise give up on shopping downtown and go somewhere else.

d_prowess 8 years, 1 month ago

If you have patio in the back of your bar, why do you need one on the sidewalk as well? This will just make the sidewalk more crowded in a situation in which it seems unnecessary.

BlackVelvet 8 years, 1 month ago

At KU, habitual violators get a boot on their car or they get towed. Period. Time for the city to grow a pair.

Thinking_Out_Loud 8 years, 1 month ago

Towing, yes. But I haven't heard of KU using a boot in, well, decades.

Randall Barnes 8 years, 1 month ago

used to have a bench warrant issued for unpaid parking tickets creating more revenu in court cost what happened there ?????????

WilburM 8 years, 1 month ago

Boots and some serious efforts to collect fines (at that level, it would be worth much more effort -- maybe even bench warrants at a certain time). There's a difference between over-parking and/or ignoring a ticket or two and the numbers that are reported here.

cowboy 8 years, 1 month ago

Get rid of parking fees entirely. The entire parking department is a money losing enterprise. With increased fees they are barely above break even on revenue thru the first quarter of the year. Add benefits and possible rises in benefit costs , and this is at best a superstitious dance . If a process is a waste of time and resources then get rid of it . It really is that simple.

whats_going_on 8 years, 1 month ago

well this changes the idea that these violators should be sympathized with, doesnt it. 25,000 bucks from parking fees? Its not THAT hard to find places to park down there you lazy f*cks.

Tbaby09 8 years, 1 month ago

After the 5th UNPAID parking ticket in 30 days just tow the car...make them pay a tow, that should stop them.♥

irvan moore 8 years, 1 month ago

I really think the city should go collect our $25,000 from those folks that owe it, how can someone owe that kind of money in fines and be walking around? I'd also really like to have the sidewalks back downtown too, they are for walking on, not eating and drinking on. Instead of adding to the problem lets eliminate it.

gccs14r 8 years, 1 month ago

And if the fines are optional, then they might as well give up on enforcement and pull the meters out. 'course then the only folks who will be in the spaces will be downtown employees, until they're all unemployed for lack of business.

For the idiots who work down there who insist on parking on Massachusetts, why is it acceptable for you to park in front of the businesses and force customers to park in the long-term lots? I want to know where you work so I can make sure you don't get any of my business.

muddfoot55 8 years, 1 month ago

"Parking Wars"....good show, good idea. Neglect the tickets, a pricey fine. Neglect the fine, bench warrant, and take their flipping tag and registration. Look at the money they will be saving while riding the bus to pay their fines and retag their car....simple& green , too. Next step....impound! Parking solved. I also agree, turn parking over to someone who will run it like a business, not an after thought.

compmd 8 years, 1 month ago

"...turn parking over to someone who will run it like a business..."

Ask the people of Chicago how well that has turned out for them.

Menazort 8 years, 1 month ago

Are the names of the 85 major offenders public information? If so, I think the LJWorld should publish them.

parrothead8 8 years, 1 month ago

Extortion is getting money via the threat of violence or property damage. When the city charges a quarter to park on city property, I'm sorry, but that doesn't come close to meeting the definition of extortion. They don't owe you a free parking space just because you've chosen to partake of your driving privilege.

whats_going_on 8 years, 1 month ago

and now instead of paying 2 bucks, you [might] have to end up paying quite a bit more.

jjt 8 years, 1 month ago

This is just so easy. First half hour free, then its a dollar or more per half hour with no feeding allowed. Feeding in most European cities equals a ticket. This keeps the long term parkers off Mass and for short termers who want to pop in its free. Ticket should run at a minimum of 25 dollars a go.

dogsandcats 8 years, 1 month ago

Habitual violators should be towed. Parking fines should be raised so they're more of a deterrent. A $3 parking fine is pretty much a joke.

gccs14r 8 years, 1 month ago

More likely they're self-absorbed Republicans, but that's redundant.

DillonBarnes 8 years, 1 month ago

Do downtown businesses really want customers that don't pay the debts they owe? Just saying :)

TopJayhawk 8 years, 1 month ago

Next time I get a parking ticket at a KU game for only parking 47 feet from the stop sign, no problem I will not pay it. I did not really understand that a parking fine was merely a suggestion.
Ahh Lawrence. Let's not upset anyone.

Richard Heckler 8 years, 1 month ago

Long term meters is the deal!

How can anyone bitch about 25 cents for 2 and one half hours? What is the world coming to?

Richard Heckler 8 years, 1 month ago

$16.00 a month for a parking pass OR

25 cents for two and one half hours at a long term meter = one dollar a day

del888 8 years, 1 month ago

Get one of those big boot things that go on the tire and lock the car down in place. When they pay up they can have it removed.

Keith 8 years, 1 month ago

"trying to find a skate goat."

I'm pretty sure the skate park prohibits skate goats.

flux 8 years, 1 month ago

Its kinda hard to remember to have 25.00 in change on you at all times to feed the meter. The meter is very hungry these days

KawHawk 8 years, 1 month ago

So how about posting the names of these habitual offenders online ? Journal-World ? Would this be legal, and if so, why not post names ?

jafs 8 years, 1 month ago

If the meters run out after 1 hour, that makes it a bit difficult to eat downtown when it's busy.

Bridgett Walthall 8 years, 1 month ago

Back in the day when I worked downtown, I couldn't really afford to pay for a long term parking pass. Find ways to make it easier for people to pay. I parked in one of the 3 hour lots and did my best to stay a step ahead of the chalk lady by spinning around the lot and re-parking 2 or 3 times a day. Still amassed a ton of tickets--which in hind sight probably cost more than a long term pass--but paying a few bucks at a time was easier than a larger amount all at once.

Keith 8 years, 1 month ago

"People who work down town are not criminals and people who live down town are not criminals."

Only true to the extent that they don't rack up scads of unpaid parking fines.

Keith 8 years, 1 month ago

I'm still looking for the part that doesn't work, at least for the majority of downtown parking users. I go downtown, I pay, I leave. If I over park, I pay the whopping $3 fine and curse the parking pirates. Next time I'm more careful. It's just not now and never will be designed for folks working downtown to park all day in front of their stores. They play parking roulette and lose.

Keith 8 years, 1 month ago

I'd say it works just fine, except for those 85. Actually 79, it looks like 6 kept current on their fines. It would work for those 79 if they paid their fines on time and were as careful as you or I about getting tickets. I could see going with Aaron Cromwell's suggested modification, that would help those who keep current on their fines.

Jaylee 8 years, 1 month ago

Louise's should knock out the wall facing Mass St. and build a new one with a little bit of inlet. Expensive solution, but definite and permanently viable, whether 20 years from now it is Louise's or not.

The Jackpot only has that little area as well.... can you drink outside Jackpot? I can't remember.

mr_right_wing 8 years, 1 month ago

Yeah...not like the city needs any of that money anyway. (I don't have any problems with our current library.) They should do this kind of thing more often. If I quit paying my water or trash bill, perhaps they'll decide to decrease it, or maybe even do away with city service bills! Hey, almost everyone speeds from time to time...let's do away with seeding tickets and speed limits!

Always make accommodations for those doing wrong! It's the new American way!

hail2oldku 8 years, 1 month ago

I'm calling BS on this one. If something like the above situation would have happened there would have been a whole lot of excrement hitting the whirling blades.

Belinda Rehmer 8 years, 1 month ago

When my son worked downtown he was on the habitual list, let me give you his story... He was the shipping and receiving clerk at a business that delivered orders to schools and local/area businesses. Being a KU student his hours began after class which was 10 am or 11 am, so the closest available employee parking space was on Tennessee St. Now he is an athlete and in good health so in the beginning he would walk the 21/2 blocks to his business. In an hour or two he would need to deliver an order that had arrived. So he would have to walk back the 21/2 blocks to get his vehicle bring it up to the shop to load and would be interrupted by a new order coming in or a patron needing assistance. By the time he was able to make the delivery he had a ticket. This scenario could happen 1-4 times per day. It didn't take long before he had the same "what's the use" attitude everyone else he worked with had. The boss just laughed and showed him his stack of tickets when he asked if there were anything he could do to "fix" this dilemma. Every downtown business is not set up to park your car once and 8 hours later leave. There is no available/assessable business parking if you are in the middle to North end of Mass. If you have a retail clerk position the parking situation is adequate. I'm sure there is more than one business, where access to a vehicle is necessary more than once a day. He loved his job, but frankly I could no longer supplement his income so he could pay his parking tickets. I just can't imagine who would be able to continue operating under those circumstances.

areyousure 8 years, 1 month ago

There are unique situations where employees need to have access to vehicles on a regular basis. I doubt however that the majority of the 85 are in this situation.

The employees quoted in the articles seemed to be servers in restaurants and retail sales employees. They went to their cars to plug the meter and to go home.

Anyone who needs access to their cars for work purposes shouldn't have to pay for their tickets. Their employer should be paying for parking permits for business use or covering the ticket costs. Sounds like the employer had a good racket going there.

hail2oldku 8 years, 1 month ago

Sounds like the shop was understaffed if the person doing deliveries had to assist inside sales in the middle of the delivery process.

Rich Noever 8 years, 1 month ago

Prohibit parking on Mass from 6th to 11th. Pedestrian traffic only. Bulid parking garage at 11th and New Hampshire and 6th and Vermont. Charge for parking in both garages. No pay-tow it. Light rail on Mass from 6th to 11th..

mr_right_wing 8 years, 1 month ago

These tix would be paid off rather quickly if the city was to get a few of those things you put on one of the tires that keeps the car from being moved. "The Boot"?? Or just start towing cars of 'habitual' offenders....then you gotta pay them all off before you get your car back.

  1. Driving is a privilege (you have no "right" to drive on taxpayer provided streets.)
  2. You ALWAYS have a choice & when you have 'character' you realize that often the 'right' choice isn't the easy/pleasant one.

Bill Lee 8 years, 1 month ago

Towing makes sense for the hibitual offenders. If being towed a couple of times doesn't change their behavior, they should be chared with larceny or theft of service with jail time a possiblity.

garyr 8 years, 1 month ago

I bet jstthefacts car is the white SUV in the picture. Not only does jstthefacts knowingly break parking laws, I bet he/she is a driver while texting / talking person as well.

garyr 8 years, 1 month ago

Bring back the boot, Bring back the boot, Bring back the boot!!!

Jake1552 8 years, 1 month ago are stupid. what is habitual supposed to mean ehhh?

youarewhatyoueat 8 years, 1 month ago

A few years ago I was a delivery driver at a downtown business, and I had to have my car nearby for my job. Because we left and came back so often, we didn't get as many tickets as we could have, but the boss (usually) paid our tickets out of the company till.

While that isn't likely to be commonplace at all similar businesses downtown, nor should it have to be, I wonder if perhaps the city could sell a couple spots by these select businesses at a yearly charge for this purpose. Otherwise, there isn't any reason the long-term meters or even Kentucky/Rhode Island/etc isn't good enough--I used to park in those places when I waitressed at a different establishment and was at work without leaving for longer hours, even in crappy weather, and it wasn't so bad.

Bladerunner 8 years, 1 month ago

After all these years I finally agree with something Smitty said! smitty (anonymous) replies… I love Cher.

Bladerunner 8 years, 1 month ago

Its easy to say, "Issue a bench warrant". But for a warrant your going to need something that identifys the owner/driver like a date of birth. When someone fails to pay their parking ticket and it goes to "bench warrant" phase....who gets arrested? If the car is registered to John Smith, How do you determine which John Smith to arrest? There is no date of birth on your vehicle registration. Such a bench warrant would be worthless and a waste of time.

People are suggesting all these great fine amounts. What does it matter what the fine amount is if they don't pay it anyway?

I dont have the solution. Just wanted to comment.

whats_going_on 8 years, 1 month ago

So, I open my big computer mouth, and I am downtown for 30 seconds earlier, literally, had to drop something off, and the lady gives me a ticket.


whats_going_on 8 years, 1 month ago

and...I was the only car on that side of the block on Mass at the time.

Do I pay? :)

gccs14r 8 years, 1 month ago

If I'm going to tempt fate, I scan the block to make sure the meter reader isn't nearby.

gccs14r 8 years, 1 month ago

I've been in Lawrence for 18 years and gotten two parking tickets in downtown in all that time, both for expired meters when I underestimated how long I'd be somewhere. I got one up on campus one time, too, when I had to work late and the lot I was in went into enforcement mode before I could leave. Parking isn't rocket science. Figure it out.

Jonathan Becker 8 years, 1 month ago

Why doesn't the LJW publish their names? LJW publishes the names of convicted sex offenders; why not parking scofflaws?

Michael Rowland 8 years, 1 month ago

Seriously why are these 79 people not punished for so many unpaid parking tickets. They may not be criminals in the same vein as a murderer or a robber is a criminal, but they are STILL BREAKING THE LAW.

If it's employees then something has to change. How about designating a level of the parking garage for employees then charging for the use of it to the businesses? If we're going to have paid parking across downtown, then someone's gotta pay for the spaces and such payments need to be enforced.

Oh, or even harsher, if any of these 79 are employees, find out who their employers are and charge their unpaid parking tickets to the employer. That'll hopefully get people better about where they're parking!

George_Braziller 8 years, 1 month ago

There was a guy who used to park in front of my house everyday. His arrival and departure was like clockwork. The front seat was loaded with piles of parking tickets.

Then he decided to not bother renewing his tag. Every day for about three months he continued to park in front of my house. The pile of tickets getting larger on his front seat as he drove around with an expired tag. Then he decided he didn't even need a licence plate anymore.

Still parked in front of my house everyday with his pile of parking tickets. The police said they couldn't ticket him if he was just parked on the street even though he didn't have a licence plate. The had to catch him actually driving on a street.

I was finally fed up and called the police to schedule a time for an officer to be on the street., Just like clockwork the guy with the pile of tickets and no tag hopped into his car and drove to the corner. As soon as he drove past the patrol car he was pulled over.

Never saw him on the street again but I did see the same car in one of the city lots about six months later ------ he still didn't have a license plate.

pomegranate 8 years, 1 month ago

When I was in my 30's, I racked up numerous parking tickets-maybe 15 to 20 of them- but paid no mind . I stuffed them in the glove box, the ashtray, my purse, pockets, whatever.
I did not pay them. This was in a small town in Calif. One evening when I was taking a wonderful bubble bath, the phone rang, my husband answered. Pretty soon he comes running into the bathroom telling me that if he didn't IMMEDIATELY go and pay these tickets he would be arrested. He went. He paid. He came back. This was over 30 years ago and he still gets angry when he thinks about that day. Since then, I have only gotten 2 parking tickets, here in Lawrence, and I paid them immediately.

theheadturner 8 years, 1 month ago

District Court Issues Opinion on Annexation of 155 Acres Near Farmer’s Turnpike

Chad did you skip this:

The Douglas County District Court rendered its decision concerning the City’s annexation of the 155 acres in the case, James Baggett, et al. v. Board of County Commissioners of Douglas County, et al. and ruled in favor of the City and the County. The court found the City and County’s actions were lawful, appropriate and in compliance with the annexation statutes. The opinion is attached. The plaintiffs’ challenge to the city’s rezoning of the 155 acres is pending in district court.

Other Plantiffs besides Jim Baggett Include: Dr. Marguerite Ermeling, Jim Haines, Cynthia Haines, Louie Copt, David Ross, Rick Stein and a few others

Follow the link to the City Manager reports and click: Opinion

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