DeKalb increases parking fines


Fines for illegally parked cars in the downtown area will soon be increasing from $3 to $25.

By Ali Combs

The city has recently increased the fine for parking past the time limit in downtown DeKalb.

Mayor Kris Povlsen said the fine was increased to accommodate merchants who had concerns that other merchants and employees were parking in front of their stores for extended periods of time.

“A lot of times, if customers come by and don’t see very convenient parking, they say there’s no parking,” Povlsen said. “The increase is really a deterrent to chronic abusers.”

Ariel Ries, owner of SMLTWN Skate Shop, 229 E. Lincoln Highway, raised concerns about the fine increase at the Feb. 11 City Council meeting.

“They raised the parking fines from $3 to $25 for the limited parking,” Ries said. “And I just thought it was an unfair increase.”

Povlsen said the fine was increased because the $3 fine didn’t seem to be deterring people from all-day parking, and the low cost didn’t cover the cost of processing and overhead associated with the tickets.

Becky Rogers, owner and managing director of Debutante’s School of Cosmetology and Nail Technology, 145 N. Third Street, said Debutante’s students and staff park in the 12-hour lots located around downtown DeKalb. She said she has seen issues where there was not enough convenient parking for clients.

Some of the concern about the fine increase is that parking limits have not been strictly enforced during the last two years.

“I can say from experience that it’s been over two years since I’ve seen cars ticketed in downtown,” said Kenny Weinstock, owner of Out on a Whim Tattoos and the Blue Moon Balloon Company, 127 E. Lincoln Highway. “If there’s a car parked in the no parking times between 2 and 6 a.m., those cars are ticketed. But I really appreciate that the time limits haven’t been strictly enforced. It gives customers time to walk around and explore downtown.”

Chief of Police Gene Lowery said parking regulations are mostly enforced on a basis of necessity.

“There used to be a community service officer that would ticket cars downtown,” Lowery said. “With the economic downturn, his position was vacated due to attrition…. Recently, it has been enforced primarily based on complaints.”

Lowery said a small task force is being put together to review and improve the parking ordinance and to ensure that it provides parking for individuals visiting downtown and prevents shop owners and employees from occupying the most convenient parking spaces.

Povlsen said the City Council is making arrangements to meet with merchants to see what they want for downtown parking.

“I don’t see it as more than a one-time meeting to find out what they prefer,” Povlsen said. “We do not want the parking to be detrimental to shoppers. I’d like to see something where if shoppers are ticketed, they could bring in a receipt as proof that they were shopping in downtown, and the ticket would be nullified.”

In the meantime, individuals staying in downtown for longer than the limited parking allows have the option of parking in the 12-hour parking lots located throughout the area.