Downtown parking changes will come with ‘reminders’

Changes in parking for downtown Warren will begin to take place in September, including enforcement.

The current parking ordinance will expire on Sept. 1, according to Greg Wilson, city intern.

He explained, “The ordinance approved at Monday’s (July 21) meeting takes effect on Sept. 1, 2014 with a ‘go live’ date of Oct. 1, 2014. That means that the current parking ordinance will no longer be in effect but the entire downtown will not be converted until Sept. 30.”

“So, there will be a transition period as one block has meters installed and the next may still have ‘zone’ parking signs up. This will require a lot of ‘reminders’ rather than tickets that changes are coming or have come. When a street is complete with signs and meters, however, it will be active under the new system. Beginning Oct. 1, 2014, the new system will be completely in place and active,” he said.

Under the current ordinance, a ticket must be paid within 24 hours. If it is not paid within 30 days, a citation is issued through the office of the district justice.

“Under the new ordinance that takes effect Sept. 1, 2014, an individual has five days to pay the ticket. If the ticket is paid after the six days, but before the 30 days, a surcharge is added for late payment but will still be accepted at the police department. After the 30 days, a citation is issued through the office of the district justice,” Wilson said.

Parking enforcement is a responsibility of the police department in the city. “However, the parking enforcement officers are paid through the city’s parking fund. On rare occasions, parking tickets are issued by uniformed police officers as well, but the primary enforcement for parking is done by enforcement officers who work for the city police,” he added.

In 2013, 3,664 parking tickets of all types were issued, an average of 14.66 per day, according to Police Chief Raymond Zydonik.

Of those, 305 were voided, and a total of $28,013 was collected. Tickets were voided for several reasons, he said, such as emergencies, people leaving a zone then returning to it later and a one-time warning for not properly displaying a handicapped placard

The types of tickets were: zone parking, with 1,060 issued; two-hour parking, 997; parking meter, 795; alternate side parking, 450; permit parking, 77; no parking from 3 a.m. to 6 a.m., 75; no parking area, 56; handicapped parking only, 55; private property, 31; parked facing the wrong way, 22; parking within 20 feet of a crosswalk, 8; blocking a driveway, 8; parking too close to a fire hydrant, 6; parking in a loading zone, 6; and other, 18.

Wilson added that parking is free on most federal holidays, the day after Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Good Friday and on weekends. All other days, parking is enforced from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.