Elon’s town council has agreed to jack up the town’s parking fines in the hope that this increase will deter drivers from monopolizing the coveted on-street spaces in the downtown area.
During a regularly-scheduled meeting on Monday, the town council voted to hike the base penalty for violating the time limits imposed on these spaces from $25 to $40 per violation. Its members also agreed to increase the associated late penalties from $35 to $65 for violators who don’t settle up within 15 days and from $75 to $100 for those who are still delinquent after 45 days.
The council ultimately voted 4-to-0 in favor of these increase after a public hearing about the proposed changes drew nary a peep from the town’s residents.
Despite the public’s apparent indifference to these new measures, Elon’s town manager Richard Roedner took a few moments to explain the purpose of the increase, which would only apply to on-street spaces in the heart of Elon’s downtown.
“We time limit them,” Roedner pointed out before the council’s 4-to-0 decision, “but the only way we have to enforce it is through parking fines.”
Roedner added that the current penalties are being shrugged off by enough people to create a persistent shortage of on-street parking in the downtown area.
Elon’s police chief Kelly Blackwelder told the council that her department writes something on the order of 8,000 to 9,000 parking tickets a year – many of which are issued to repeat violators. Blackwelder added that, in some cases, the police department even tickets the same vehicles several days in a row when they remain parked in the same on-street spaces.
“We generally see it if they’ve overindulged at one of the bars,” she added. “One young man just forgot where he left his car, and it remained there for eight days.”
Blackwelder informed the council that the police department can also tow vehicles with one or more outstanding parking tickets that have gone unpaid for more than 15 days. She conceded that her officers can even call in a two truck when the vehicle in question is legally parked at the time that it’s spotted.
Blackwelder nevertheless told The Alamance News that, in the absence of electronic meter readers, her parking enforcement detail rarely invokes its authority to tow unless a particular vehicle has really
“If memory serves,” she went on to recall, “we’ve had maybe five [vehicles towed] since we’ve started this a couple of years ago.”
During its meeting on Monday, the town council also gave Blackwelder the go-head to write off write off $16,725 in fines from unpaid tickets that the police department has deemed uncollectable. The town’s police chief added that these fines represent some 221 unpaid parking tickets that were originally issued between July 1, 2018 and June 30, 2021.
Absent from Monday’s 4-to-0 decisions on both the increased penalties and the requested write-off was council member Stephanie Bourland, who missed that evening’s meeting for health reasons. Although Bourland was able to follow the proceedings online, she was prohibited from voting under the council’s rules for remote participation in meetings.