• Parking ban tests capital’s citizenry
     | November 13,2012

    MONTPELIER — On Thursday, Nov. 15, the city’s seasonal parking ban goes into place.

    Do you know where your car is? You’d better.

    According to the ordinance, until April 1, 2013, no “motor vehicles, teams, carts, or any other conveyance” can remain parked on the street for more than one hour from 1 to 7 a.m.

    Ignoring the ban could prove to be a costly mistake.

    In October, Police Chief Anthony Facos issued a news release with a warning that vehicles in violation of the ban will be subject to removal by towing at the owners’ expense. The towing fee for the coming season is $65 and it always comes paired with an additional $15 parking ticket.

    While the ban presents a hardship for drivers who do not have access to off-street parking, city officials see it as a viable and budget-friendly way to keep the streets ready for snow removal operations through the winter.

    Residents who object to the ordinance argue that city plowers are unlikely to perform snow-removal operations every night for the next four and a half months. On Nov. 16, 2011, the morning after the start of the ban, Montpelier resident Ryan Koloski received a ticket for parking on the street in front of his home.

    “The road was dry, there wasn’t any snow, and I just didn’t think about it,” he said.

    In response to this kind of complaint, Facos and the Montpelier police run an educational campaign each fall for two weeks leading
    up to the ban. This includes news releases and posting informational fliers on cars parked overnight in the street. There’s also signage about the ban posted at of the city’s access points.

    For anyone who still hasn’t gotten the message, Facos said, “we will issue tickets once the ban is in effect. By being clear on the education early and getting people to comply, we’re having to tow a lot less when those first storms hit.”

    When on-street parking becomes unavailable in November, some drivers are forced to take on extra winter expenses. Private vehicle lots are listed on Vermont’s Craigslist for monthly rents between $50 and $80.

    Tom Vivian of Bob’s Sunoco Towing recalled a “habitual offender” whose car he removed from the street multiple times during one winter. “She said it was cheaper to get towed than to pay for regular (off-street) parking.”

    In many cases, people with no driveway access must rely on the kindness of friends and neighbors with extra space in their driveways to save money. But such arrangements can strain even the best friendships in a city where available parking is at a premium.

    As a small solution, the parking lot behind City Hall offers limited free year-round overnight parking. But since the available spaces alternate each day of the week, it can be difficult to keep track of where it’s OK to park from one night to the next.

    For the complete story, see Wednesday's Times Argus.

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