Sunday, December 09, 2001

Oxford police target meter-feeders


City hopes fines will open spaces

By Randy McNutt
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        OXFORD — The word on the street is: no meter-feeding. It now costs $25 to $75 if you park too long in this northern Butler County city.

        The idea behind the new penalties is to discourage people from feeding parking meters for long periods, especially in the uptown busi ness district, where two hours is the limit.

        Police Chief Steve Schwein said there has been “a longstanding problem of habitual meter-feeding offenses in the metered zones of the city. The amended penalty will provide for stiffer penalties for those who habitually meter-feed.”

        Using hand-held computers called AutoCite to determine how long a car has been parked, parking officers type in the car license plate number and the space number. The computer reveals how long the car has been parked and prints out a ticket on the spot.

        Fines are higher. A ticket costs $25 for the first offense if paid at the Municipal Building within five days. After that, the fine increases to $50.

        For a second offense (within 12 months of the first), the fine is $50 if paid after five days and $75 if paid later.

        A third offense — or any subsequent offense within 12 months — brings a $75 fine if paid within five days and $100 if paid after that time.

        Previous parking fines were $5 if paid within 48 hours, $10 if paid in up to 10 days and $20 if paid after 10 days.

        Council changed the law late last month to help ease the parking crunch, which is a perennial issue. In the lobby of the police department, brochures explain: “On-street parking in uptown Oxford is intended for a high turnover of spaces.”

        City Manager Jane Howington said the intention is not to generate money but to keep parking spaces open.

        The chief said the new amendment gives the city “an additional enforcement tool” that allows police to tow any offender after a third or subsequent offense.

        By amending an earlier parking ordinance, council found “increased fine amounts for repeat offenses should significantly deter parking (violations) in these areas.”

        High Street and surrounding areas are the major problem in this college town, the home of Miami University and some 16,000 students. The city's new parking garage is slightly easing the problem, police say.

        Some merchants who complain about council restricting parking on High Street also park there for long periods, said Will McLain, manager of Snyder's Camera, Arts and Gifts on High Street.

        “I'm all for trying something to rectify the situation, if it will work. The real problem is, this is a small town with too many cars,” he said.'

       



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