Proposed Columbia parking ordinance could result in fine increases

Friday, January 14, 2011 | 7:59 p.m. CST; updated 8:39 p.m. CST, Friday, January 14, 2011

COLUMBIA — An ordinance drafted Thursday at Mayor Bob McDavid's request could result in a significant increase in minimum parking violation fines.

If approved by the Columbia City Council, the proposal would increase the meter violation fine from $5 to $10, as well as increase the penalty for nonpayment of fines within 15 days from $15 to $25.

The city manager's office projects that the ordinance could provide an increase of $100,000 in revenue for the city.

According to Shara Meyer, municipal court clerk, the changes come as an effort to halt the all-day occupancy of metered spots downtown by employees of shops in the district. 

She also said that the projected changes weren’t a sudden issue, despite the fact that Columbia parking fines have not changed in eight years. The proposed figures come as the result of a comparative study of fines in other municipalities in Missouri, she said. 

The findings show that Columbia is one of the cheapest places to get a ticket for various infractions, such as obstruction of traffic and handicap parking.

These proposed changes are not supported by some people, however.

MU student Joanna Demkiewicz, who works in a downtown shop, said she has received tickets as soon as five minutes after parking her car. She said it is difficult finding hassle-free parking downtown.

Natalie Duider, another downtown employee shares in the frustration. Duider said that other means of parking should be made available.

"I feel like employees who work downtown should be able to buy a space or pass. The $12 a week adds up. It's almost $50 a month I spend on parking alone," she said. "Not counting the tickets.”

Downtown Columbia has 1,413 on-street metered spaces, according to The District's website. If approved, the proposal will take effect March 1.

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Pat Stingley January 14, 2011 | 9:17 p.m.

I'd rather see the city cite the UPS, FedEx, beer trucks, etc., who believe that they are "special" and get to park in the lane(s) of traffic anywhere and anytime they want downtown. That is what the alleys are for. They block traffic without hesitation and without any penalty whatsoever, yet if an individual parked in such way they would surely be cited!!

(Report Comment)
Jeremy Calton January 15, 2011 | 2:04 a.m.

I totally agree with you, Pat. But don't you know that sometimes the alley is DOZENS of feet away? Why should they be inconvenienced 25 feet when they can inconvenience 25 motorists instead?

Seriously, to be fair, they should probably allow delivery trucks in alleys 8-5ish and ticket (or maybe tow) anybody else in the alley the same as a handicap spot.
Once they do that, THEN they could realistically say "Okay, blocking traffic is ticketable, and will be enforced regardless of your reasons."
At the very least, they should enforce double-parking during hours of commute and lunchtime.
Also bear in mind that meter maids can't write traffic tickets to UPS, there would have to be a cop for that--although a "community service aide" would do.

(Report Comment)
qqwweerr qqwweerr January 15, 2011 | 7:01 a.m.
This comment has been removed.
Anne Fisher January 15, 2011 | 3:32 p.m.

I don't go downtown anymore, or if I do, it's when the meters are not being monitored. BS stunts like this to fill revenue shortfalls will backfire against the local merchants. So be it.

(Report Comment)

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