Say goodbye to downtown Farmington parking ‘shuffle’

Farmington Farmers Market Polish Fest

Farmington city council members have taken final action on an ordinance amendment designed to end the downtown parking “shuffle”.

Officials got their first look on Sept. 19 at an amendment that prohibits re-parking cars in the same timed lot. A time-lapse video presented during that meeting showed motorists moving their vehicles in view of the city’s parking enforcement officer, to avoid getting a ticket for violating the 3-hour time limit.

Public Safety Director Frank Demers said that repeat offenders, some who are employed by downtown businesses, account for about 37 percent of the 891 parking citations issued between January and July of this year.

“I think if we have people willing to spend $25 multiple times to let their car sit there, this might solve the problem and it might not,” council member Greg Cowley said.

He’s in favor of raising fines, which would require a separate council action.

Council member Steven Schneemann pointed out that the ordinance does not prevent people from moving from one timed lot to another.

“The video showed all the evidence that I needed,” he said. “It’s a cat and mouse game, but the cat couldn’t do anything. I’m satisfied, I think it’s fair and reasonable.”

Council member Sara Bowman cast the lone vote against the change. She reiterated an objection she raised on Sept. 19, that the city doesn’t need more regulations.

“(Parking is) clearly working for the vast majority, it’s not working for a handful of employees,” she said. “We need to have a parking discussion for growth. I don’t feel we need to add another ordinance or fee or fine or way to penalize residents.

The ordinance amendment, which also prohibits removing chalk marks the parking enforcement officers places on tires, goes into effect following publication in a local newspaper.

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