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Parking tickets pile up

Wake up to a ticket on your windshield recently? You're not alone. Fargo police and the Public Works Department issued 809 tickets for violations of city overnight parking regulations so far this month, police Sgt. Jeff Skuza said. The figure inc...

Wake up to a ticket on your windshield recently? You're not alone.

Fargo police and the Public Works Department issued 809 tickets for violations of city overnight parking regulations so far this month, police Sgt. Jeff Skuza said.

The figure includes both tickets in the central business district, which has year-round night parking restrictions, and the section of the city where seasonal night parking restrictions took effect Nov. 1.

In October, officers issued 409 tickets for overnight parking violations. The city issued 17 tickets in September.

At $10 a pop, the tickets aren't popular, and the cost could increase.

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City employees may propose increasing the fines to encourage residents to follow the regulations, said Al Weigel, the Public Works operation manager. It would be part of a proposed overhaul of the city's seasonal parking restrictions.

"What is clear is that the problem we're having with our current policy is noncompliance," Weigel said.

Weigel said the Traffic Technical Advisory Committee may discuss raising fines at its Dec. 5 meeting.

The committee may take up ideas to change the city's seasonal parking restrictions to methods that would allow Fargo residents to park overnight on the street more often.

Currently, the city's seasonal parking restrictions take effect from Nov. 1 to April 15. They apply from 19th Avenue North to 13th Avenue South and from the Red River to 25th Street, not including the central business district.

City law bans parking vehicles or trailers in that area on avenues from 1 a.m. to 7 a.m. Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays and on streets from 1 a.m. to 7 a.m. Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.

"The issue with that, which really brought it to light, was the fact that you have three to four times a week where you live when you can't park on your street or avenue," Weigel said.

That's a burden to citizens who live in the area, and it's inefficient for the city, said Steve Peterson, who lives at 1426 6th Ave. S. and received one ticket this month.

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Among his objections is the limited area encompassed by the district. "It snows all over town," he said.

Peterson has been asking city officials for months for new seasonal parking restrictions. He said they're dragging their feet.

"At present, what I'm looking for is to say, 'Hey, this thing isn't working at all. Let's quit fining people for an ordinance that just doesn't work for anybody,'" he said.

One possible change city employees discussed last week is expanding the current seasonal parking restrictions citywide and enforcing it only as needed, said Weigel and Fargo Traffic Engineer Jeremy Gorden.

The city would announce when parking restrictions would be enforced, either during snowfalls or for maintenance.

City officials aren't sure yet how they would make the announcements, Weigel said.

The other possibility is a grid system similar to Moorhead's. The city would be divided into sectors. Each sector would be assigned a day of the week in which residents can't park their vehicles on the streets.

It could be synced with the city garbage collection schedule, Weigel said.

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The plan would work well for snow removal, but not as well for fall leaf cleaning, Weigel said. Crews hit some streets almost daily to clear leaves.

Neither plan could be adopted this winter, Weigel said.

Previously, the traffic committee recommended a plan to city commissioners that would divide the city into five sectors for snow removal.

On their assigned day, residents would not be allowed to park on north-south streets from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. and on east-west avenues from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m.

Commissioners in September directed staff to keep working on modifications to the night parking ordinance and bring back proposed changes in late October. The commission has not yet seen proposed changes.

Area parking restrictions

Now that winter is nearly here, residents in some areas of the metro area are subject to seasonal parking regulations.

Here's the lowdown on this season's parking restrictions:

- Fargo: Seasonal restrictions apply from Nov. 1 to April 15.

They apply from 19th Avenue North to 13th Avenue South and from the Red River to 25th Street, not including the central business district.

City law bans parking vehicles or trailers in that area on avenues from 1 a.m. to 7 a.m. Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays, and on streets from 1 a.m. to 7 a.m. Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.

- Moorhead: Restrictions are the same year-round, said Chad Martin, Moorhead's operations director.

The city is divided into sectors. Each sector has one day of the week when parking is banned on streets and avenues.

The city is working to make its trash collection schedule match the sectors, Martin said.

- West Fargo: Parking on streets and avenues is limited to 72 consecutive hours year-round, Public Works Director Barry Johnson said.

Vehicles parked on the streets don't really cause problems for the city, he said.

"People tend to move their stuff," he said. "If they don't move it, they get a big snow pile in front of their house."

- Dilworth: Some streets in specific areas have parking restrictions posted. Also, vehicles parked on streets must be moved during a 48-hour time period.

Overnight parking violations

Why does Fargo ticket people who violate overnight parking restrictions even when cleaning crews aren't out?

"Steady enforcement prevents problems," said Fargo police Sgt. Jeff Skuza.

Fargo police ticket for overnight parking violations when they have time. If the night shift has a busy period, Fargo residents get lax about following the regulations, he said.

The city Public Works Department also issues tickets for overnight parking.

Public Works employees issued 3,747 of the 7,321 overnight violations issued in 2006, police figures show.

The department has issued 3,497 of the 5,339 overnight parking tickets issued this year.

- Andrea Domaskin

Readers can reach Forum reporter Andrea Domaskin at (701) 241-5556 Parking tickets pile up Andrea Domaskin 20071126

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