Saying it had been a long time since parking enforcement officers issued their last verbal warning to her, town officials last week voided a $25 ticket issued to a woman who overstayed her time on Elm Street.
Under New Canaan’s parking regulations, motorists approaching what is now a 2-hour time limit for the free spaces downtown cannot simply move their vehicle to a different area of the same street to reset that timer.
If someone is not aware of the rule, “we try to educate them, usually the first ticket around, because it is not posted anywhere other than in the town ordinance,” according to Parking Manager Stacy Miltenberg.
Yet in the case of Lara Tiramani of Bridgeport, she was made aware of that when she similarly overstayed a space in 2016, Miltenberg said during the Dec. 8 regular meeting of the Parking Commissioner.
Tucker Murphy, administrative officer for the town and a guest at the meeting, said the purpose of the rule is to ensure the free spaces serve those who wish to patronize downtown business and restaurants rather than those who work in those places.
“Because that’s what would keep happening, is we had employees move their cars from one section to another section, and so that’s the whole point, and it’s been working well for a number of years,” Murphy said during the meeting.
Yet members of the Parking Commission voted unanimously to void the ticket.
“That’s a long time ago,” Commissioner Nancy Bemis said of the warning.
“Frankly I didn’t even know that was the case,” Bemis said of the rule about moving your vehicle entirely out of a free parking zone once time has expired.
“She took the time to move the car,” Bemis added.
“If it happened two months ago and she was given that warning two months ago, then i would say that’s a fair and just warning and we should uphold the ticket but honestly it was six years ago,” she said.
Bemis, acting Chair Jennifer Donovan and Commissioners Kevin Karl, Drew Magratten and Marley Thackray voted 5-0 to void.
“I would have made that mistake myself,” Magratten said.
The ticket had been issued to Tiramani at 11:40 a.m. on Oct. 3 (a Monday), records show. Her appeal letter for the ticket read as follows:
“I thought you had to change the parking spot after 2 hours. I set a timer and moved my car to a different spot. I got a ticket. I walked to the Town Hall right away to let them know. They explained that you must change spots and streets in order for the time to be reset. They saw that I did change spots today within the 2 hour window, but got a ticket because it was the same street. They also let me know. I was informed of this in 2016 but apparently forgot in the years since, did my best to follow the rules today, so hoping for a pardon.”
Donovan said she didn’t have a strong opinion on the ticket either way, though she hated to ticket people who drive to New Canaan from far away.
Miltenberg noted that Tiramani doesn’t work in a business in town.
“When she says she works ‘in town,’ what she does is she actually goes into one of the places that have no charge WiFi and she does computer work,” Miltenberg said. “She is not actually working in a store in town, if that is what you were thinking.”
Bemis said that Tiramani hopefully is spending at least $7 on a Starbucks latte and could go to a Starbucks in Stamford instead.
“She needs to be reminded” about the rule, Donovan said.