Saying New Canaan demands far less from parking violators than nearby towns, the volunteer group that oversees off-street parking here is recommending a new slate of increased fines.
In all, the Parking Commission is seeking to raise amounts on 15 of 23 violations that range from parking on a curb—or more than one foot from it—to obstructing fire hydrants and crosswalks.
A look at what the commission is proposing —current fines and proposed—can be found at the end of this article.
Not every commissioner agreed with every decision.
When Peter Ogilvie suggested raising the three $20 fines—no parking zone, loading zone and obstructing two spaces—to $30, this exchange took place between Chairman Keith Richey and Secretary Rick Franco:
Franco: Someone has to second Peter.
Richey: No, nobody has to.
Franco: Yes they do.
Richey: No, they don’t have to second. If they don’t second, we don’t have a motion.
Franco: Am I on Mars?
One proposed increase that garnered discussion was for obstructing crosswalks and hydrants. All agreed that those offenses were especially objectionable because they create safety hazards. Commissioner Pat Swearingen sought to raise the rates from $50 to $75, while Ogilvie suggested $100.
Asked for her opinion, Parking Bureau Supervisor Karen Miller said, “Obstructing crosswalks is serious business,” adding that she was comfortable with the $50 fine that’s in place.
Franco urged the commission to leave it be, based on two suppositions. First, raising the fines could create headaches for the parking department in terms of enforcement (“What are you doing to this poor woman?”—meaning Miller—and “It doesn’t matter to us: we sit and hide wherever we hide, all day long”) and second, it could garner more appeals from drivers.
“We are very comfortable right now in terms of a nominal amount of appeals—Pam [Crum] may object because she does many of them on her own—but I think we are looking to create a crisis in appeals,” Franco said. “Above all, I really don’t want to see this commission criticized. We’ve worked together for a long time—I know Pat’s new, but the rest of us have worked together for a long time—and what you’re about to do, is going to get you in a lot of trouble.”
Crum said the commission rarely sees fined motorists appeal crosswalk tickets, and that she’s never heard of an appeal for the hydrant violation.
Here are the proposed changes:
$15 to $20
- Expired meter
- Overtime parking
- More than 12 inches from curb
- Unpaid space
- Meter repeater
- Parking on curb
- Twenty-five feet from corner
- Overnight parking
$20 to $30
- No parking zone
- Loading zone
$30 to $40
- Parking, second violation
$50 to $75
- Obstructing crosswalk
- Obstructing hydrant
$75 to $100
- Handicapped zone