By Tia Lynn Ivey
The Madison City Council is considering a new Town Square parking ordinance that would deem three parking violations in one calendar year as a misdemeanor offense. The ordinance is aimed at downtown business owners and employees who repeatedly violate the two-hour parking time limit in the spaces that line downtown Madison. According to Madison Police Chief Bill Ashburn, the current fine, which is $15 per ticket no matter how many tickets one accumulates, has not deterred these violations.
“The main problem is the people who work inside the city. It’s the people who have businesses here and they continually violate the parking ordinance…so this is to try and curtail that,” said Ashburn.
City Attorney Joe Reitman presented the terms of the new parking ordinance for the council to consider. Under the new code amendment, three parking violations in one calendar year will not only amount to a misdemeanor offense, but subsequent tickets after the third violation will jump from $15 to $30.
According to City Officials, the proposed code amendment for steeper parking penalties is to dissuade people from violating that law.
“My idea is that this will make it more of a deterrent to people,” said City Manager David Nunn. “Maybe they will be less causal about parking in time-limited spaces all day if the punishment were a little more stiff. This is not about bringing in more revenue or to be punitive, but to try to get compliance so we can save those spaces for visitors and customers.”
City Attorney Joe Reitman, whose office is in downtown Madison, noted that he and his employees park in the parking deck to avoid violating the parking codes.
“There are ample legal parking options for downtown employees,” said Reitman.
“We don’t have a parking problem, we have a ‘people don’t want to walk’ problem,” added Ann Huff, special project coordinator for the city.
The Madison Mayor and City Council will review the proposed parking code amendment and revisit the matter at the next meeting.