Town officials last week upheld a $25 ticket issued to a New Canaan woman who’d overstayed the two-hour parking limit on Elm Street on a Saturday this summer.
Tamara Schwarzman told members of the Parking Commission during an appeal hearing Thursday night that she parked on Elm after yoga, with plans to shop and get lunch with her husband.
“I shopped at a bunch of stores, gave business to the town, bought some clothes at More ’N More, had lunch at Rosie’s,” Schwarzman said during the hearing, held via videoconference.
“What else did I do? Oh, I bought something at Wave. And then I came back to my car and there was a ticket. I think that I was there just pretty much at two hours. I really don’t believe that I was above. But if I was above two hours, it would have not been too much longer than two hours, that’s for sure. So, I’ve never gotten a parking ticket in New Canaan, and I’m pretty respectful of the laws. And so I decided to make this appeal because I think that I was there less than two hours and if I was there over two hours, it would have just been a few minutes. Plus I was in town shopping at many of our beautiful stores, eating lunch at Rosie’s. And I was surprised to get the ticket.”
She added that as she approached her ticketed vehicle “some gentleman came out from one of the stores.”
“I’m not sure which one, but I was parked in front of New Canaan Chicken, and he apologized that I got the ticket,” she said. “He must have been the proprietor of a store. And he said that he tried to say something to the parking person. He said I just arrived right after the parking person left. So I mean, I must have been walking down the street when he gave me the ticket. As I said, I had lunch at Rosie’s.”
The Parking Bureau’s records show that Schwarzman overstayed in the space by 16 minutes, and the ticket was issued at 1:21 p.m. on June 27 (about two weeks after the town re-introduced on-steret parking enforcement amid the COVID-19 crisis).
“It was more than just a few minutes over time,” Commission Secretary Pam Crum said during the Commission’s deliberations.
She also noted that the town nearly three years ago upped the parking limit downtown from 90 minutes to two hours “because we are trying to give people time to shop and things.”
Commissioner Peter Ogilvie said, “I thought it was a pretty straightforward case. She was there over time.”
Commissioner Chris Hering said he agreed and that “we have to enforce Main and Elm.”
Commissioner Laura Budd asked what is the Commission’s precedent with such cases.
“We typically get a lot of these, where it’s within five minutes or 5-10 minutes of the two-hour limit,” Budd said. “Over time is over time, but I don’t know what our grace periods are.”
Ogilvie responded that there’s grace period built into the timer on the Parking Bureau’s license plate reader. “So she already got three minutes of grace time before the timer went off,” he said.
Budd called the ticketing “unfortunate.”
“We hate to ticket people,” she said. “But we have to maintain flow downtown. I appreciate her point, and obviously it’s great that she was downtown. But there’s nothing we really can do.”
The Commission voted 5-0 to uphold the ticket, with the four commissioners and Chair Keith Richey voting.