Parking officials last week voted unanimously to uphold a $50 ticket issued to a Darien woman who had parked the wrong way on Elm Street.
The appellant, Janet Cling, told members of the Parking Commission at their regular meeting that she was in New Canaan with a newborn in the car on Dec. 11 (a Monday) when she pulled off of Park Street into the Starbucks lot and then continued into the last row of diagonal spaces on Elm Street.
“We were just really quickly running into the Whitney Shop to pick up an ornament that my mother-in-law had ordered for her [the baby], personalized,” Cling told commissioners at their Jan. 11 meeting, held at Town Hall.
“So I was looking for parking, looping around and then I had gone into the little Starbucks parking lot and then the space, the very first space on Elm Street—that’s Elm Street, right? I live in Darien—had opened up and so my vehicle was never actually on Elm Street going the wrong way.”
Cling added that when she saw the spot open up, “I thought it was my lucky day” and that when she emerged from the shop to find a ticket, “I was shocked.”
Ultimately, the commissioners at the public hearing—Chairman Keith Richey, Secretary Pam Crum and Stuart Stringfellow—upheld the ticket by a 3-0 vote. They noted that a parking enforcement officer’s photo of her vehicle showed it was not only facing the wrong way but also eight to 10 inches outside of the space itself. (Commissioners Peter Ogilvie and Christopher Hering were not in attendance.)
“She was not only on the wrong side but not in the spot at all,” Richey said.
During the hearing, Crum asked Cling to clarify whether she had parked at Starbucks at all.
Cling said no, and surmised that she may have been ticketed because an enforcement officer looking at her car may have thought she’d been traveling the wrong way down the one-way street.
She added that she has “never seen or knew” that a motorist is prohibited “from parking in either direction in a space.”
Told that she additionally had parked in such a way that her car was over the line for that space, Cling asked, “By a lot?”
Crum said, “It was eight to 10 inches, at least.”
“You were not in the space, you were in the [Starbucks] driveway,” she said.