Town Upholds $50 Ticket Issued to New Canaan Woman Who Parked on the Sidewalk in Front of Starbucks


This is where it happened.

Officials last week upheld a $50 ticket issued to a New Canaan woman who parked on the sidewalk in front of Starbucks—a recurring and dangerous violation that must be addressed by the town, they said.

Members of the Parking Commission during their regular meeting Jan. 3 voted 4-0 to uphold the ticket issued to Miriam Oh at 10:47 a.m. on Nov. 7 (Election Day). 

During her appeal hearing before the Commission, Oh said she had no idea it wasn’t a legitimate space because she often sees vehicles parked there.

“I thought it was the private property of Starbucks to park in that location, because I had seen—and of course, this is no excuse—but part of the reason I thought it was OK was that I had always seen lots of vehicles in that spot,” Oh said during the meeting, held at Town Hall and via videoconference. 

Oh said that after receiving the ticket, she began paying attention to the area and “there’s so many people who are parked there all the time,” holding up what appeared to be a composite of photographs showing motorists in violation.

“And it wasn’t as if I was trying to go every single time to find somebody who is in violation,” she said. “It just happened to be that I’m driving by and there’s always somebody who seems to be in that same exact spot. So I wanted to make sure I stated my situation, but also made everyone aware that it is something that I think may need to be addressed more broadly and let people know that that is not a legitimate parking spot.”

Commissioners largely agreed with Oh that the town, and possibly Starbucks itself, should do more to indicate to drivers that the broad sidewalk in front of Starbucks is not to be used for parking—for example, by installing an asphalt curb just north of the alleyway that runs behind Starbucks and other shops before dumping onto Park Street.

Commissioner Kevin Karl during the appointed body’s deliberations that the town may consider having Starbucks close off the Park Street exit from its lot entirely, forcing cars to come both in and out from Elm.

Commissioner Marley Thackray said it was not a bad idea, especially given how difficult it is for cars exiting the lot to move across two lanes of traffic in order to make a left. Thackray said the town may consider having Starbucks make the exit “right turn only” onto Park Street if the company wants to keep it.

Karl, Thackray and Commissioners Nancy Bemis and Drew Magratten voted 4-0 to uphold. There’s one open seat on the Parking Commission.

Thackray said she often sees motorists park on the sidewalk and then run into Starbucks to get their drink.

“But it’s a sidewalk,” she said. “I personally have had two very bad experiences where I’ve had to walk children into the road to get around cars parked on the sidewalk. I’m so confused why it looks like a parking space because to me it looks like a sidewalk.”

Oh said she typically parks down the street, in the Railroad Lot off of Pine Street, when going to Starbucks. To Thackray’s comments she said, “I probably should have used more common sense, but it’s because of the way that that parking lot is configured that that sidewalk seems to be an extension of the parking lot.”

Thackray asked how pedestrians leaving a Park Street store such as Life Aquatic are supposed to get to the Elm Street intersection if not via the sidewalk.

Magratten said he agreed that Oh was in violation “but if you’re in a car and you’re not thinking through the eyes of the pedestrian, it looks like all one thing.”

“And that’s been a problem since day one,” he said. “And the city doesn’t do anything to sort of demarcate that there’s a margin there that this is a pedestrian thing. It looks like there’s no curbs.”

Magratten added that “the town has some responsibility to put up a sign at least and paint the damn pavement.”

Parking Manager Stacy Miltenberg said she would bring the issue to the attention of the Department of Public Works.

2 thoughts on “Town Upholds $50 Ticket Issued to New Canaan Woman Who Parked on the Sidewalk in Front of Starbucks

  1. May I invite you too Zumbachs Gourmet coffee on Pine St. Plenty of parking and fresh roasted coffees available.
    Doug Z

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