More parking changes for downtown

Posted May 25, 2010, at 2:47 p.m.

BANGOR — The city has increased overtime parking fees downtown from $12 to $15 and has created a new category of parking offense for handicapped motorists who fail to display their plates or placards properly.

The ordinance changes are the latest in a long line of policy decisions designed better to address parking problems on Bangor’s downtown streets.

“Normally, I don’t like raising fees in a down economy, but this seems appropriate,” Councilor David Nealley said Monday before the council approved the ordinance change.

“I’m encouraged as a downtown business owner that this discussion has led to other discussions about parking,” said Councilor Cary Weston.

By increasing the overtime fee from $12 to $15, the city is expected to generate an added $40,000 annually, although that money only helps to subsidize the costs associated with issuing tickets and monitoring parking offenders. If those fines are not paid within 30 days, the ticket doubles to $30.

The ordinance amendment approved Monday also allows Bangor’s parking enforcers to issue a new ticket of $25 for handicapped motorists who do not have proper plates or who do not display placards. The city previously had two choices: issue a $200 fine for illegally parking in a handicapped spot or void the ticket altogether.

Police Chief Ron Gastia said the handicapped parking changes were made in consultation with Alpha One, a local handicapped-rights advocacy group. Last year, the Bangor Police Department and Alpha One launched a joint educational effort aimed at dealing more effectively with motorists who violate handicapped parking ordinances.

The issue of downtown parking is perpetual at the City Council level.

Last year, councilors discussed the idea of increasing overtime fines from $10 to $15 but settled on the smaller increase to $12.

Also last year, the city increased monthly parking rates for all downtown parking lots between $3 and $10, depending on lot location. Additionally, the city reduced the number of courtesy tickets it allows from four to three annually.

Finally, councilors approved an increase in the time allowed for most downtown spots from 60 minutes to 90 minutes the better to accommodate the lunch crowd and retail shoppers.

The parking debate is likely not over. Councilors plan to revisit the problem of repeat parking offenders by imposing stricter penalties for scofflaws.

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