Archive for Wednesday, March 31, 2010

City will consider changes to $50 parking tickets

The $50 fee for habitual downtown parking violators will remain in effect until the city can review the ordinance. About 700 downtown employees and patrons signed a petition against the new practice.

March 31, 2010


Sympathy for downtown parkers only went so far at City Hall on Tuesday night.

City commissioners said they would look into concerns that a $50 ticket for habitual parking violators is too harsh, but they ordered staff to keep writing the tickets until a report can be prepared in late April.

Commissioners said they would consider some changes to the rules, but also urged downtown business owners to do more to stress the importance of employees not parking in prime Massachusetts Street spaces.

“I have seen employees with aprons on come out and plug a meter right in front of the restaurant,” said Commissioner Aron Cromwell. “Somebody is asleep at the switch there because I’m sure there are some customers going to other restaurants because they can’t get a nearby parking spot.”

The ordinance, which the city approved in July but began enforcing in early March, calls for a $50 fine for motorists who have at least five parking tickets in a 30-day period.

Among the changes commissioners said they would consider are:

• Charging only motorists who have five unpaid parking tickets in a 30-day period the $50 fine. Currently the ordinance makes no distinction between paid and unpaid tickets.

• Reserving the $50 tickets only for motorists who have multiple parking violations on Massachusetts Street. The current ordinance also applies to motorists who receive tickets in the two-hour and long-term lots downtown.

• Increasing the number of tickets needed to qualify as a habitual parking violator to an amount above five.

But commissioners said they wanted more data before making any changes. Commissioners asked for information on where the tickets were being issued and at what time of day. The city has issued 122 of the $50 tickets since March 10. Commissioners are expected to receive a report April 20.

Commissioners were presented with a petition signed by about 770 downtown employees and motorists urging a repeal of the $50 ticket provision.

“It is difficult to get employees in the downtown area, and it is even more difficult to keep good employees,” said Jeremy Furse, an owner of Britches, 843 Mass., and the organizer of the petition drive. “This is really detrimental to keeping employees.”

Four of the five commissioners work downtown, and several said they did not find it overly difficult to find parking spots on a regular basis.

“I’m willing to look at some changes, but what we have in place is not unfair,” Commissioner Mike Dever said. “It is only fair to try to encourage people to park in the appropriate place.”


jbiegs 8 years, 1 month ago

If I was the owner or manager of one of these downtown businesses, there would be a strict parking policy that employees would follow. Absolutely never park on the street in front. How dumb are these people?

Tim Quest 8 years, 1 month ago

A quarter gets you an hour's worth of parking downtown. Tickets are practically spare change. Quit whining, people. Not everything in life is free, and there is a penalty for being a scofflaw. If you don't want to pay a $50 ticket for repeatedly breaking the law, then don't break the law.

youngjayhawk 8 years, 1 month ago

Laws are laws. Downtown employees should allow enough walking time from the parking garage or any of the 10-hour meters which are within a block or two of any business. Either follow the laws or pay the fines ... quit whining about it. The walk would be healthy for you - physically & emotionally!

Take_a_letter_Maria 8 years, 1 month ago

I used to work downtown for years and the only time I had any problems with parking for free without having to walk more than about 5 minutes was during the annual sidewalk sale. After that first year I learned it was easier to just have Maria drop me off on day and pick me up at the end of the day.

mr_right_wing 8 years, 1 month ago

Do you get fined $50 after your first ticket? No.

Do you get fined after your second ticket? No.

When you get a third ticket, then do you have to pay $50? No.

Do you get fined $50 when you receive your fourth ticket in 30 days? No.

When you receive your fifth ticket, and only after that do you get fined $50.

Seems to me the city is being extremely patient. I'd have no problem with a 'three strikes' $50 parking fine.

This is money that our city badly needs, and it's easy enough to avoid paying it. When parking ticets are $50 EACH, then I will feel your pain.

Kash_Encarri 8 years, 1 month ago

A quick Google search reveals the following parking fines for first time offenders with rates escalating sharply from these -

New York City - $65.00 Philadelphia - $26 to $301 if you have a for sale sign displayed in your car Chicago - $50.00

Since those are much larger metro areas I also looked at

Chapel Hill - $15.00 Boulder - $25.00 Austin - $15.00

All of these but Chapel Hill would either boot or tow your car once it reached the habitual offender status costing much more than the $50.00 Lawrence is charging if they catch up to you. In Boulder, they mail you a citation for being put on the boot list for non-payment so you could end up with your parking fine, a boot citation notice and a boot removal or towing fee.

Seems to me that the City of Lawrence is quite a bargain to park in even receiving a habitual offender fine.

A20271 8 years, 1 month ago

FarneyMac (anonymous) says… A quarter gets you an hour's worth of parking downtown.

I think a quarter gets you 30 minutes. I work at a downtown restaurant and I was told by my manager to sign the petition but I didn't. Why are you even getting 5 tickets in 30 days?? You need to park a block, for free!, and walk or pay the price for taking advantage of the parking system. I park in the parking garage, but I'll admit when I get off work at night, I am scared to walk to my car.

amrose42683 8 years, 1 month ago

I think it should stay the way it is ... the only change appropriate would be harsher penalty. I worked on the Plaza in KC for years and there were major fines if anyone parked in timed parking zones, and they were even harsher if it was employees. I've never had a hard time finding a parking spot downtown within a five minute walk of where I want to go. Employees that have to park in the parking garages, if your scared of walking to your car at nite, you can always request an officer or coworker to walk with you to your car. It's pretty easy and most people are happy to help. People shouldn't be whining ... you don't get a $50 until after 5 tickets! And by no means should employees be allowed to park right in front of their work.

whats_going_on 8 years, 1 month ago

If you park at KU ONCE and don't have a tag or go above your time, isn't like at least 20 bucks?

vuduchyld 8 years, 1 month ago

Rules are rules. As long as the rules are clear, I don't see the problem.

But correct me if I'm wrong...didn't the habitual violator law actually pass several years ago? Then didn't they decide it was unenforceable? Then didn't they recently just start enforcing it?

I get parking tickets downtown. I'm willing to play by the long as I know them. I showed up at my car one day and had a $50 ticket that I wasn't expecting...and why should I have expected it? There was no notification of this change in enforcement procedures.

If I accidentally miss plugging the meter, I'll pay $3. Fair enough.

But if somebody is going to stick some arbitrary fine on my window...and if that is going to be $50, you can damn sure BET that will change my behavior.

And I'm fine with changing my behavior, but that change is going to cost the city some money every year.

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