Commission rethinking downtown parking following aldermen’s rejection
Published: July 19,2012
OXFORD — Members of Oxford’s Downtown Parking Commission have gone back to the drawing board after a plan to implement paid parking on the Square failed to gain the support of enough aldermen to be passed.
Their “plan B” focuses on enforcing the two-hour parking limit on premium parking spaces around the Square by issuing tickets with higher fines and placing “boots” on the cars of owners with three or more parking tickets.
“What we are trying to do is provide a customer-friendly approach to managed on-street parking to violators, forgiveness of the first time limit violation and adopting a more consistent enforcement approach to repeat offenders,” said Jeff Triplette, chairman of the commission.
In the original plan submitted to the aldermen, the city would have hired the Standard Parking company to place parking meters every few feet around the Square and revert to a paid-parking system, which was tried in Oxford in the 1960s and early 1970s.
Currently, a car parked for more than two hours receives a $5 ticket. Each ticket after that goes up — $10, $25 then $50 for each ticket. If a violator goes 12 months without a ticket, it is reset back to $5 for the next offense.
Under Plan B, the first violation is free and the violator would get a letter that would explain the fine process. Second offense is $10, then $25, then $50. However, those fines will go up $10 a month for each month the fine is left unpaid. After 90 days, the $10 fine will become a $30 fine.
Fines for loading zone violations would be $100 and parking in handicapped parking will garner a $200 fine.
After someone gets four violations, a boot will be placed on their vehicle. The car owner will have 24 hours to pay all unpaid parking tickets and late fees and then a $75 boot removal fee.
After 24 hours, the car will be towed off the Square and the vehicle owner will then be responsible to pay the towing fees as well as the tickets and boot fee.
Standard Parking would use License Plate Recognition units to keep track of vehicles parked on the Square.
Officials say vehicle owners cannot move their car every two hours on the Square to avoid a ticket.
Those charged with writing parking tickets on the Square, euphemistically being called “parking ambassadors,” will be employed by Standard Parking. These ticket writers will be able to track how long a vehicle has been on the entire Square.
While parking is limited to two hours at a time, the commission said visitors would be able to leave the Square for an undetermined amount of time and then return to reset the two-hour limit.
“Those details will be worked out by Standard and the aldermen,” Triplette said.
If the new plan B is approved, the two-hour parking limit will be enforced from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Special exceptions will be made throughout the year for certain special events, such as the Christmas Parade.
In the proposal, Standard will receive a base management fee of $24,000 with two $1,000 incentives — to maintain a 24-hour response time to all citizen requests and achieve a violation collection rate of 85 percent.
Mayor Pat Patterson said unpaid parking tickets amount to close to $60,000.
“It’s only going to get worse,” he said. “We need to do something.”
Officials said the new proposal would be presented to aldermen at a future workshop that has not yet been scheduled.
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