Saying there’s not enough evidence to uphold it, members of the Parking Commission voided a $20 ticket issued to a Wilton man who had parked on Locust Avenue on a Friday evening in May.
Jaromir Kosar told the Commission during a July 8 appeal hearing that two signs located near each other on the south side of Locust between Forest and Cherry Streets are in conflict, since one says ‘No parking any time’ while the other says ‘Parking 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.’
Police wrongly issued Kosar a ticket at 6:40 p.m. on May 14, he said, because he was parked near the latter sign (which has arrows pointing in both directions) behind two SUVs that blocked his view of the ‘no parking’ sign. Furthermore, Kosar said during the hearing, held via videoconference, there were no street markings in the area where he parked that would’ve indicated to him that it was a no-parking zone.
Told that the police officer wouldn’t have ticketed him if he was parked legally, Kosar said, “I’ve got news for you: Police officers are human and they make mistakes. And they made a mistake here.”
When enforcement officers with the New Canaan Parking Bureau ticket vehicles downtown, they capture a photo of the violation. After those enforcement officers clock out for the day, New Canaan Police may issue parking tickets. However, those police officers do not take photos of the violations.
Kosar noted that the Commission had no evidence that he had parked wrongly.
“You don’t have any proof that I parked in a no-parking zone because you don’t have a picture either,” he said. “You have no proof that I parked where it says ‘no parking any time.’ ”
The commissioners debated whether to ask the police officer who issued the ticket to submit written testimony about what he or she recalled about where Kosar was parked.
Yet Commissioner Peter Ogilvie noted, “A police officer is not going to remember a ticket he issued at almost 7 o’clock at night on [May] 14th. This is getting ridiculous.”
“I am afraid I typically come down hard on these parking people that park illegally but I am afraid that Mr. Kosar has a lot going on his side,” Ogilvie said. “There are two signs. The sign that allows parking has two arrows and it’s very ambiguous and there’s no indication of where he parked. So I would vote to void this ticket. Simply based on a lack of proper information and confusing signage. Sorry.”
Ultimately, Ogilvie, Commission Chair Keith Richey and member Jennifer Donovan voted to void the ticket. Saying she would have preferred for the ticket-issuing officer to present testimony, Commissioner Laura Budd voted to uphold. Commissioner Drew Magratten was absent.
Parking Manager Stacy Miltenberg said that she had received an email several weeks before from motorists who said that it was difficult to safely exit the underground parking lot at the 49-51 Locust Ave. building because there were so many cars in the no-parking zone that had been created to improve sight lines and allow for a better turn ratio for vehicles both entering and exiting the lot. Miltenberg said she notified police about the traffic safety problem and that an officer had ticketed vehicles there as a result.
“This was a police ticket so it was given by a police officer, I have no pictures attached to it,” Miltenberg said. “I am just going to guess that if there were two other vehicles parked in the area that those also got ticketed and those people are not appealing their ticket.”
She added that the signs in question are at least 15 feet apart and that the two areas—one where parking is allowed, the other where it isn’t—are clear distinguished by line markings on the pavement.
“It would be very unusual for a ticket to be given if the person was parked legally where it is marked as a legal parking spot,” Miltenberg said.
Kosar pushed back on the assumption that the police officer was correct in issuing the ticket, especially since there was no photographic evidence that Kosar’s vehicle was in the no-parking area.
“I understand if I park right next to a driveway and they have difficulty getting out, but I didn’t park there,” he said.
Kosar added, “Be fair. You can’t just say that the officer did the right thing. He didn’t.”
To the assertion by some commissioners that the proof of illegal parking is the officer’s issuance of the ticket, Kosar said, “I’ll be sure to hire a lawyer now because what the officer did or saw is irrelevant. You have two signs there. Two signs that are conflicting. I don’t see how it could be any clearer. It doesn’t mater what the officer did. You have a sign there that says parking 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. with two arrows and the second arrow points to the left it does not say ‘only 10 more feet.’ ”