‘I Don’t Really Care That Much About My Ticket’: Local Woman Loses Appeal of $20 Parking Fine

The volunteer commission that oversees municipal parking lots in New Canaan last week upheld a $20 ticket issued to a town woman, despite her insistence during a public hearing that she deserved a pass because her dermatologist had been running late.

Kristen Schlim told the Parking Commission during its May 5 meeting that she had been undergoing a cosmetic procedure at Morse Court and was “shocked” and “annoyed” on emerging to the lot there to find a ticket saying she had overstayed by nine minutes.

“In my opinion, there’s not a lot I could do,” Schlim told the commissioners at their regular meeting, held at Town Hall. “I made a very reasonable estimate of how long I thought I was going to be in there, and she [the dermatologist] was running late. You can’t really leave once you’ve started a procedure so I just thought, ‘Why don’t I write a letter and explain?’ I was nine minutes late, I put a normal amount of money in the meter. What’s the big deal? I love to shop in New Canaan. Why would you want to make somebody pay a $20 ticket over something like that?”

The commission voted 5-0 to uphold the ticket.

Chairman Keith Richey told Schlim that if she wanted a “safety margin” to ensure she wouldn’t overstay her parking time, that she simply could have paid for it.

“It will cost you a quarter,” Richey said. “Fifty cents.”

Schlim reiterated that it is “not easy to leave when you are in the doctor’s office” and “very hard to predict how long you are going to be somewhere.”

“If I were on Parking Commission and I wanted people to think favorably and shop in town and not think, ‘Oh, I’m going to go to Bloomingdale’s instead for my clothes so I don’t have to worry about it,’ I would have a 10-minute or 15-minute grace period. Why wouldn’t they?”

Though she argued her case, Schlim maintained at the same time that it wasn’t worth her time to do so.

She opened her defense before the commission by stating: “My girlfriends are all out tonight at a festivity thing that I wanted to be at, so this is not worthy.”

“It is not worth it to me personally—it is not worth $20 to give up my Thursday night to come here,” Schlim told the commissioners, who have given up their own Thursday nights, six times per year—in some cases for nearly two decades—to review and hear appeals, and advise town officials on parking matters.

When Schlim asked rhetorically “why in a nice town like New Canaan are they making people who shop a lot” pay a fine for overtime parking, a straight-faced Richey replied: “Because we’re just mean.”

He quickly added: “Tell us about your ticket.”

To that Schlim replied: “I don’t really care that much about my ticket, but I will tell you why I was annoyed.”

When Richey asked where the appointment was, Schlim gave the name of a local dermatologist and said she was having a “cosmetic procedure” done. An attendee at the meeting clarified for Schlim that the commission only wanted to know in which lot she had parked her car.

Schlim said she filed a written appeal of her ticket and only decided to come to the Parking Commission to argue her case in person after a positive, in-depth conversation with an employee of the New Canaan Parking Bureau.

Richey asked: “Why would you think, whether you show up or write the letter that when you are telling us you overstayed your time by nine minutes, that we would listen favorably to your appeal?”

The commission during its meetings typically discusses each in-person appeal and then, later, votes to void or uphold the ticket. The group took 12 seconds to vote 5-0 in favor of upholding Schlim’s ticket. The only comments were made by Richey. He noted that, in effect, the appealing party’s perception of herself was perhaps at odds with others’.

9 thoughts on “‘I Don’t Really Care That Much About My Ticket’: Local Woman Loses Appeal of $20 Parking Fine

  1. Schlim undoubtedly spent more time talking with friends about this issue, worrying about it and losing sleep, and time spent at Commission meeting than it was worth … given that the “cosmetic procedure” probably cost her $500+/-

  2. I have a different view on this—-don’t we want to make Downtown as consumer friendly as possible? Let’s start with the basic premise that no one likes getting a ticket. However, the tone of the meeting seems a little harsh. Lets once and for all come up with a parking program that works!

  3. Though the parking commission gives up there time to serve as such, no one is twisting their arm to do so. However, people who come into town do so to conduct their business and they get a bum deal in New Canaan. New Canaan has had a parking problem for decades and town leaders have not dealt with it. Who suffers? The residents do and often opt to do their shopping elsewhere, also the shop owners who lose business because of inadequate parking and a parking system that serves only to limit the time you can spend in town and forces Parkers/shoppers/diners to either get out of town or keep running to the meter. The quotes from the Richey were rude and disrespectful. Unfortunately this sort of thing is tolerated and shows New Canaan to be blind to a problem that could be resolved if the town leaders would tackle it.

  4. Too many years of fielding parking ticket appeals based on dubious reasoning such as my “Botox treatment took longer than I thought” or “I was just having my highlights touched up” seems to have left the Parking Commission bitter and jaded. Their tone shows a certain lack of respect for those who dutifully come before them to appeal their tickets. The appeals process is well within their rights and they deserve to be treated with more respect.

  5. By the way, when in a similiar situation (hair nit dr) I simply asked someone to go out and put more money in my meter. I gave them the money and they were happy to do it.
    You do not want the town to start making exceptions, it ends poorly.

  6. We should make parking in New Canaan free, I am one of the best customers of the train station lot and one time when I forgot to pay they ticketed my car. The last thing I want to see when I get home after a long day is a red ticket on my car. It probably costs more to enforce parking than the revenue they make from it. Also their pay by phone app is a scam. The app gets you in to the habit of paying for your parking after you get on the train, and you are like 50% more likely to forget. If you pay at the machine you always get in the habit of paying first. They make 600% more money if you forget to pay, and 1200% more money if you forget to pay and then get the late fee. So the parking enforcement want you to forget to pay as opposed to actually paying because they make more money

  7. It’d be a hugely attractive value-add to all home owners, if every household in New Canaan had option to pay for ONE *guaranteed* parking spot, at either of NC’s train stations!! That certainly would draw attention and one-up NC attractiveness in a big way, versus surrounding communities. Certainly help shift many more of those for-sale homes (btw: those ‘for sales signs’ all over NC; are those really helping? Makes our community look like a ‘desperate sales’ town, majority wanting to leave, and that something is ominously wrong in NC. I’m sure the existing huge volume of signage is precisely NOT sending the desirability/special-place message to the new potential-buyer audience who can afford/pay-tax in NC. Can that signage be stopped a la Greenwich and other communities? )
    The full-capacity and multi-year waiting list for ANY commuter parking spot is seriously limiting our town’s attractiveness for new comers, that’s for sure – – especially as the most likely buyers are families & people earning their income in NYC, and 90% depend on NC parking availability to do so. Fact is, mostly (not exclusively, but mostly!), the towns coffers and sustainable beauty are provided for, and secured daily by the brave men & women Commuters! Like Chris, I pay the daily parking rate (as been waiting 2+ years for a THill pass. Paid 2 ‘forgot to pay’ tickets since), but even those pay-per-day spots are very very much at max capacity, and as permanent spots are not forthcoming anytime soon, NC is literally maxed out on Commuter parking spots). But overall, the problem also seems to be that we have two different NC ‘parking’ classes here: people who are privileged to be able to work and socialize in New Canaan during the day. Since moving here, appears to me that parking has Animal Farm elements: the priority effort & concern is first and foremost providing free prime parking to ALL town-hall workers, followed by the awesome shop owners we all like to support, and their employees…and then, eventually, customers & visitors who very much would like to spend their monies here) – – Lastly, and sadly, the Commuter Community needs are considered, who really seem to be missing an advocate and, really, are bearing the load of keeping The Farm running.
    We really need the town to be far more with-it on today’s Commuter needs, modernize and expedite fixes (THill!), conveniences, sensible parking allocations, and better the supply/demand revenue generation, and strive to provide a real service that leads the way in Fairfield/Westchester.
    Parking can be a real value-add-on differentiating feature to a town, helping positively the New Canaan property value and shoppers experience; it’s not really that hard of a business case to figure out (as I’m sure many of my Commuter friends, if given some basic historic parking data with P&L points, could figure it out in the time it takes to get to NYC and back) – – but, rather, too much time is spent on selfish noise, entitlements, individual problems, petty disputes, etc.
    Really, debating the paying of a $20 fee, or not, is neither here nor there in any real-world. That really cannot be the NC parking debate – – Rather: Solve the Commuter parking problem, see that a comprehensive parking solution helps (not solves, but helps!)demand for real-estate in NC and betters the town feel. Fixing a comprehensive Commuter & Consumer parking solution brings advantages to everything that we value most and bought-into with NC – – and want others to desire too (so that our property prices demand increase too, no less!). It cant be that a reliable 6 x 8 foot parking space every morning is a problem – – especially when solving it would help the river of privileges to keep flowing.

    • The reason residents are leaving is due to the State not necessarily the town. I do agree with many of your points about the town though. spot on.

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