Parking Enforcement Ramps Up As Downtown Activity Increases

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Elm Street in New Canaan on June 1, 2020. Credit: Michael Dinan

As New Canaan businesses continue to reopen and draw more visitors downtown, motorists who violate serious parking regulations such as parking in crosswalks, in front of fire hydrants and in designated disabled spaces will receive tickets, officials say.

Yet parking in municipal lots remains free, and those overstaying time limits will receive a “courtesy ticket” that amounts to a warning, according to Parking Manager Stacy Miltenberg.

The system is designed to get shoppers, diners and downtown workers accustomed to the reintroduction of parking enforcement, which officials said had been suspended last month.

“Nobody should be parking illegally—we are going to do our best to move people along—but if a car is illegally parked and we can’t get it to move, we will be ticketing,” Miltenberg said.

The question of when to start enforcing the two-hour time limits on streets such as Main and Elm is fluid, and will depend largely on how quickly downtown re-fills with visitors. It’s been about 10 days since retail stores reopened and restaurants began serving at socially distanced tables outside. To help the restaurants, New Canaan approved a new sidewalk and parking plan that also lost meant about 20 spaces were lost. On Monday, nail and hair salons started reopening, as per Gov. Ned Lamont.

Parking enforcement officers now are “encouraging people who work in the businesses to not take up the street parking, so that we can all work together to bring shoppers and people who want to go out and eat back out into town and be able to park on the street,” Miltenberg said. 

“We do not want employees parking on the street, so we are encouraging them to utilize the parking lots,” she said. “They don’t have to pay there. And that is until further notice.”

The Parking Commission last month took the rare step of waiving a ticket that had been issued to a local woman who parked in a disabled space. The Commission’s chair said at the time that he believed she parked there after the coronavirus disease-related restrictions had taken hold downtown, meaning parking options were plentiful. (That turned out not to be the case.)

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