FROM STAFF REPORTS
Ignoring a parking ticket in downtown Statesville is about to get more expensive and inconvenient for some repeat violators.
A divided City Council voted Monday to authorize the Statesville Police Department to begin placing a boot on vehicles with multiple overdue tickets and have the vehicles towed at the owner’s expense.
Under the new regulations:
♦ The cost of a parking ticket — typically written for violating the two-hour parking limit in downtown — will increase from $5 to $10.
♦ After 14 days, the cost of an unpaid ticket will increase to $40.
♦ If a vehicle that has three unpaid tickets of 30 days or more is ticketed again, the SPD will place a boot on the vehicle and have it towed. The owner will then have to pay off the tickets and the towing charge in order to have the boot removed.
Police Chief David Addison recommended the new, more stringent penalties to the council.
“The challenge we’re having now is people are taking this parking (ordinance) like a joke,” he said, adding that people who regularly exceed the two-hour parking limit and ignore their parking tickets are keeping visitors from coming downtown.
The new regulations put some “teeth” in the city ordinance and target repeat offenders who don’t pay their tickets, the chief said.
“When we’re booting someone’s car, it’s not when they get the first ticket, it’s not when they get the second ticket, it’s when they get the third ticket and they’ve not paid none of the three tickets,” Addison explained. “So they’ve had 90 days to pay these tickets and not paid them in 90 days. That’s when the boot would apply.”
The SPD will conduct an educational campaign before it begins enforcement of the new regulations, Addison said.
Councilmembers William Morgan, Doris Allison, Amy Lawton and Fredrick Foster voted in favor of the stricter penalties. Councilmembers Steve Johnson, C.O. Johnson, David Jones and John Staford opposed the change.
“You start booting vehicles and you are going to have an outrage from folks,” said Staford, who said he opposes using city resources to enforce parking rules downtown.
Mayor Costi Kutteh broke the 4-4 tie.
Kutteh explained that the new rules would not impact the 89 percent of the people who receive a ticket and pay their fine in a timely manner.
It is easy to avoid being ticketed, the mayor said, explaining that it’s not that difficult to move your car before the two-hour limit is up.
“It’s like everything else,” Kutteh said. “There’s got to be some personal responsibility.”
In other business, the council could not agree on the best way to protect customers of the state tag office who are often forced to wait outside next to a dangerous curve. A woman was hit and killed there last year, and there have been more than 30 accidents there in the past four years, according to the Statesville Police Department.
The SPD recommended closing off off the Water Street entrance to the city-owned parking lot at the southeast corner of West Water Street and North Meeting Street and installing traffic bollards along West Water Street. The bollards could stop vehicles that leave the roadway and protect the pedestrians. Another option presented by the SPD involved eliminating left turns in and out of the parking lot.
Councilman C.O. Johnson lamented the impact that closing the parking lot entrance would have on the locksmith, and other councilmembers said any solution should take into account the safety of the busy intersection.
City staff and the SPD will continue looking at solutions and involve the NCDOT.