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Council considering parking violation, fee changes

Utilizing chalk to mark tires is back on the menu for parking enforcement in Marietta by mid-March.

But getting arrested for unpaid parking tickets will no longer be a potential consequence.

The changes are part of nine parking and traffic ordinance amendments introduced this month through Marietta City Council.

Ordinances 11-19 introduced the changes on Feb. 6, alongside some shifts to civil fines.

Those documents will each see a second reading for the legislative changes on Feb. 20 with Police and Fire Chairman Bill Gossett then hosting a formal public hearing to field questions on Feb. 24, allowing for public comment and potential requests for amendment before the final readings and votes on March 5.

All nine ordinances are designated emergency legislation–which allows each to take effect immediately after its passage by council and the signature of Mayor Josh Schlicher.

This means if all nine ordinances pass, they could be enforced by the Marietta Police Department’s newly authorized Parking Violations Bureau as early as March 6.

Chalk on tires could begin, Schlicher confirmed Friday, as early as the second week of March.

“This is for the benefit of our businesses and customers, to keep traffic moving throughout our downtown and get junk cars off our city streets,” said Schlicher.

The chalk practice had been deemed an unconstitutional search by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the sixth district in April 2019.

But that same court, just days later, clarified its position. The court amended its ruling, stating that chalking tires, while deemed a search under the Fourth Amendment, qualifies under both the community caretaking’ exception and the motor-vehicle exception as lawful.

In Xenia, for which Marietta’s law department modeled the proposed changes with input from Marietta City Police and City Council, reasonable notice to motorists that their vehicles are subject to chalking is achieved through signs posted throughout the city.

“As long as we’re giving notice of it (as a city) then a driver consents by parking on a city-owned street or in one of our lots to the enforcement,” said City Law Director Paul Bertram.

Design of those public notices, Schlicher said, is underway with an anticipated posting along city streets during the second week of March.

“You’re being put on notice that you’re going to be chalked,” summarized Bertram. “You’re being given your due-process notice.”

The legislation also increases the fine for parking in time-specific spots and in a rented spot to $20 per violation from $10.

“Since the fine schedule is going up, people need to pay better attention to both the two-hour and 20-minute spots,” Gossett emphasized. “For comparison, Parkersburg only offers one hour of free parking and then they may ticket you for every additional hour that you’re there.”

Schlicher said ticketing of parking violations will remain at one issue per day.

“We’re not doing this to increase revenue,” Gossett continued. “But we want it to be painful enough to correct poor parking behavior.”

Gossett noted that a complaint he often hears from other business owners downtown (he owns Cobbler John’s on Second Street) is against individuals residing in downtown apartments or working in offices in the district monopolizing two-hour parking spaces for the entire business day.

“Paying a fine every time you’re caught doing that will add up a little faster now,” he said.

Schlicher also noted that rental spaces remain available in city parking lots and noted two part-time parking enforcement officers will be dispatched beginning the second week in March to enforce the new ordinances.

Janelle Patterson can be reached at jpatterson@mariettatimes.com.

If you go:

• What: Public meeting on changes to nine parking and traffic ordinances within city limits.

• When: Feb. 24, 6:30 to 8 p.m.

• Where: Armory, room 10, 241 Front St.

• Who: Open to the public.

Source: Marietta City Council.

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