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Parking fine increase a start, but it doesn’t go far enough

June 1, 2018
Editorial , Lake Placid News

We're glad to see Lake Placid village board members take some action on parking fines, as they contemplate an increase in the violation from $25 to $35. Yet they're not going far enough.

On Monday, June 4, the village is holding a public hearing on the fine increase at the village board meeting, which begins at 5 p.m. at the North Elba Town Hall. We encourage residents to stop by and give their opinions on the matter. After all, parking is the number one issue in this resort town, especially in the busier summer months when it's tough to find parking spaces along upper Main Street from the Golden Arrow Lakeside Resort to Saranac Avenue.

We don't pretend to be as knowledgeable in parking matters as village trustees or the mayor, but we did spend some time with veteran traffic control officer Marty Perkins two years ago, riding up and down Main Street in a patrol vehicle, asking questions and learning about the community's parking problem. It seemed that we - and the rest of the community - had a lot to learn from Perkins and his team, as they deal with the realities of parking every day. They see violations, write tickets and educate the public - residents and visitors - about the parking laws.

It seemed to us that managing the parking situation in the Main Street business district was an ongoing struggle and the village could do more to help the police department with its enforcement. Specifically, we saw the need for an increase in the parking fines and extra signage in certain locations; if there aren't "no parking" signs where a person gets a ticket, it may not hold up in court.

One take-away from our 2016 ride-along was that many of the biggest parking violators of Main Street are locals - people who live and work there.

"If we didn't have meters on Main Street," Perkins said at the time, "Main Street would be overwhelmed with the apartment people and employees. To this day, we have employees who park in front of their own business all day long."

That hasn't changed.

Perkins also said that residents and workers with repetitive tickets are a challenge to the traffic control officers.

Will an increase of $10 in the parking fines deter repeat violators? Will it deter tourists from violating the law? Probably not.

Perkins said recently that people tend to laugh off $25 fines, adding that re-offending locals might stop parking illegally, but the increase fine probably wouldn't deter visitors.

The fine increase doesn't include loading zones or handicap spots, which are currently $150 and $130, respectively. If a parking fine is not paid within 30 days, an additional $10 is added to the total.

If revenue from parking fines is the goal, then the village should keep the fine at the proposed $35. It's like having a sale on parking fines; keep the price low to increase the volume of violations. If solving the parking problem is the goal, the village should increase the fine to a level that will better deter people. What is that amount? We don't know, but we're sure our dedicated traffic control officers do.



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