Farmington discourages reparking with amended ordinance

By: Sherri Kolade, | Farmington Press | Published October 9, 2017

FARMINGTON — Farmington officials are buckling down on individuals who repark their vehicles in timed lots.

An amendment to the city’s current prohibited parking ordinance was recently approved 4-1 and prohibits people from moving their vehicles to a new spot in the same parking lot after they have exceeded the parking time limitation, according to a press release. 

Farmington City Councilwoman Sara Bowman had the dissenting vote during the Oct. 2 Farmington City Council meeting. The Downtown Farmington Public Parking Committee first presented the measure to the City Council Sept. 18. 

 The city of Farmington plans to add more signage regarding a new reparking ordinance.

The city of Farmington plans to add more signage regarding a new reparking ordinance.

Photo by Deb Jacques

The amendment also includes language that makes it unlawful for someone to erase or remove a chalk mark or other identifying marks from a tire in order to deceive a parking enforcement officer, the release states.

The intention behind the amended ordinance, Farmington City Manager David Murphy said, is to leave more parking options open to visitors by encouraging employees to park in lots that are not time limited, according to the release.

“I don’t think we’ve done enough yet to promote and educate how much available free, untimed parking we have,” Bowman said, adding that this continuing conversation about three-hour timed parking relates only to two lots: the north lot behind the Farmington Civic Theatre, 33332 Grand River Ave., and the south lot by Fresh Thyme, 23300 Farmington Road. 

She added that while she supports the ordinances in place already — which call for a ticket for anyone who violates the three-hour limit — she feels that people who disobey the ordinance will just pay for their ticket and continue on.

“I’m not ready, personally, to add additional ordinances, because I don’t think that will … change the behavior of those particular people,” she said. Bowman added that the Public Parking Committee identified that it is primarily employees of businesses who are not complying with the parking ordinance.

Public Parking Committee Chair Todd Huffman said via email that the parking ordinance amendment discussion began when businesses and parking enforcement officials started noticing cars “shuffling” within a lot. 

“This became more obvious when businesses would have an employee exit and move several cars in front of parking enforcement,” Huffman said, adding that there have not been complaints about the reparking ordinance at city meetings. 

He said that parking enforcement officials have used a number of methods for tracking reparking. This includes a video tracker and time-lapse photos that show that about 30 percent of the cars in a lot were potential offenders of reparking.

Farmington Public Safety Director Frank Demers said during a phone interview that there aren’t enough public spaces available for customers who visit downtown Farmington, particularly in the north lot downtown.

“What we have is tried to establish additional on-street and side-street (parking) that is untimed where employees can park,” he said.

Demers added that the Maxfield Training Center site, 33000 Thomas St., and its west lot have a number of free spaces available. Parking is also available at the Farmington Masonic Lodge, 23715 Farmington Road.

“There are some untimed lots available, and more private lots than public. We’re just trying to make the best use of our public spots available to people who want to shop and visit downtown, as opposed to employees who want the convenience of parking close to their place of employment,” he said.

Demers added in an email that the cost of the ticket for violating the ordinance is $25.

“A parking enforcement officer has the discretion to issue warnings in lieu of a citation,” he said via email. “The city plans to install additional signage to further explain the reparking ordinance.”

Demers said that if a person parks in a timed lot for three hours and leaves the lot, they cannot come back and park again that day.

“That would be a violation of the ordinance,” he said via email.

Huffman said that there are 875 public parking spaces downtown; 119 are untimed, and over 96 are on the street. He added that the restriping of Grand River Avenue and Thomas, State and Liberty streets has allowed for more room in the downtown. The remaining spaces are 660 public, timed parking spaces in the downtown.

“Since the study, we have increased the untimed spaces available by adding street parking on Thomas, State and Liberty street(s), as well as a lot behind Fresh Thyme,” he said, adding that other untimed lots mentioned in the study are beside TJ Maxx, at City Hall, at the Farmington Community Library Farmington Branch, and in the lot behind Page’s Food & Spirits, 23621 Farmington Road. 

“All untimed lots are within walking distance (a block or two at most) of any business in downtown Farmington,” Huffman said, adding that the Public Parking Committee is working with the Farmington Downtown Development Authority to improve signage and inform residents and nonresidents about the untimed lots and street parking.  

“We continue to work with the DDA to increase untimed parking,” he said.