PORTLAND, Maine — With more than 124,000 parking tickets handed out in Maine’s largest city last year, the CBS 13 I-Team investigated where drivers are most likely to find a piece of white paper on their windshields.
In Portland’s most popular part of town, you can expect to find cobblestone streets, quaint shops and plenty of parking tickets.
Shirley Pettingill was visiting from upstate New York.
“Stayed longer than I should have,” she said, holding a $15 ticket.
Locals agreed, it’s easy to do.
“I’ve gotten one ticket so far, and it was down here in the Old Port,” said Portland resident Tania Cheema.
“They’ll get you, always,” added Kevin Kingdon, who runs an art gallery on Commercial Street.
According to data obtained by the CBS 13 I-Team, some streets are likelier to land you a ticket.
Here are the top five from 2015:
1. Commercial Street
2. Congress Street
3. Free Street
4. Exchange Street
5. Market Street
Last year, the city wrote more than 12,000 tickets on Commercial Street, which has about 190 metered spaces.
“I work right here and I look out my window and I watch people get written up all the time,” said Portland resident Shane Vitalius.
Commercial has been the hot spot for tickets each of the past three years. In 2015, the city made $150,000 just from the expired meters.
“We’re not revenue-motivated. A lot of people think we are,” said parking manager John Peverada. “Just by coincidence we make some pretty good money.”
The city raked in $2.2 million in 2015, up 20 percent from 2014. Officials attribute that in part to an increase in “no parking zone” tickets, from $25 to $30.
“We’re really here to create public safety and turn over parking,” said Peverada.
They’ve heard every excuse in the book.
“You get the, ‘I was only there for five minutes’ thing,” said Senior Parking Officer Kevin Ready. “Five minutes. It’s always five minutes, somehow.”
“The most common offense is an expired meter,” added Peverada.
Peverada said kiosks are cutting down on these types of violations, because they accept credit cards and can be used at any metered spot in the city while valid.
His best advice: “I’d just say look for the signage and if you see a meter, make an effort to pay.”
Luckily, a ticket isn’t enough to stop Pettingill from returning to Portland.
“It’s a beautiful town,” she said. “I love it here, other than my parking ticket.”