Youngstown council puts brakes on parking meters

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City council isn’t ready to move forward with an overhaul of the parking meters ordinance.

Council members asked Monday for more clarification from the law director to the language for a proposed repeal and replace of the law governing parking meters.

“We still need to work on it,” said Councilman Julius T. Oliver, D-1st and chairman of the parking committee. “We’ll come back with another committee meeting to discuss this further.”

Oliver said he objected to expanding the hours for enforcement and Mayor Jamael Tito Brown said Monday he had no problem getting rid of that planned change.

The proposal would require vehicles parking at meters from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. seven days a week to pay.

The current law calls for payments at spots with meters from 8 a.m. to 6 or 8 p.m., depending on the location, on weekdays, and from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday in only the central business district.

Enforcement, however, is rare after 5 p.m. and Saturdays.

The meters are primarily in the downtown area and in and around Youngstown State University.

Clerk of Courts Sarah Brown-Clark said Monday that she wanted to have the new law in place Sept. 1 or Oct. 1 at the latest.

But the parking committee didn’t schedule another meeting Monday.

Brown-Clark said the repeal and replace of the current law isn’t necessary. She simply wants to add a few words to the existing ordinance that would allow for towing, tire boots and/or windshield barnacles – particularly the latter – for those who have at least 10 delinquent parking tickets.

Law Director Jeff Limbian said the language that makes vehicles violating the parking law “subject to immobilization or impoundment” is sufficient and to add more is “overkill.” But he said he didn’t object to the change requested by Brown-Clark.

Council members said they also wanted clearer language on the 10-ticket minimum issue but also wanted to give discretion to towing if a vehicle is parked in a space where a downtown festival is occurring.

“If it goes in The Vindicator that you’ll get a barnacle or boot after 10 tickets, people would think they need to take care of it,” Brown said.

In May, Brown-Clark called for a crackdown on those ignoring dozens of parking tickets. There is more than $1 million in unpaid tickets, dating back two decades in some cases, with the top 120 offenders owing $170,000, according to clerk of court records.

An outside company would be contracted to provide the barnacles and keep a portion of the fines collected, Limbian said.

The city is negotiating with Sensys Gatso USA of Beverly, Mass., to install more than 100 new meters and oversee the collection.

The administration also wants to add more meters to the central business district, particularly on the east side of downtown, and near the YSU campus, Limbian said. These would be smart meters that allow the use of credit cards, he said.

The city would also step up enforcement of violators through the police department and/or ABM Parking Services, a private company with a city contract to write parking tickets, Limbian said.

Parking tickets are $10. The cost goes up to $20 if it’s not paid after 20 days and to $30 if it’s unpaid after 30 days.

Tickets for parking in handicapped spots are $25, and increase to $50 if not paid after 10 days.