Dear Montclair Parking Authority...
Michael Woods writes about his problem with parking in Montclair.
I've been attempting over the last year to have the Montclair Parking Authority address the problem of "time limit parking streets" within the township.
I will be addressing the MPA advisory board about this issue at 8:30 a.m. on Wednesday, May 16 during its meeting at the municipal building.
As I'm sure you are aware, the MPA has been struggling with financial debt since its creation. As a result, the MPA enforcement officers have been aggressively issuing summonses on streets where time limit parking exists. I live on Gates Avenue between Union Street and Hawthorne Place, which is a residential neighborhood. We have two-hour parking restrictions on that section of Gates Avenue.
Sadly, because it is a residential neighborhood, the people being issued tickets are residents of Gates Avenue. I am one of those who has received tickets, although they have been dismissed in court.
For the last year, I addressed this with the mayor, the township council, the MPA, and 4th Ward Councilor Renee Baskerville—with little success.
I don't feel they should have two-hour parking on my street as it's a residential neighborhood, but that's not the problem. There is a need for time limit parking for areas around train stations and businesses to prevent people from parking and clogging the streets all day.
But the problem is that the ordinance is not clear and must be changed. They have the word "all" in the ordinance for about half of the streets in the town. But it doesn't say what this word means. So it must to clarified. But the signs must be clarified as well, which will be costly for the town to do.
Here is an example of the ordinance:
327-20 Time Limit Parking
Gates Avenue 2 hrs.; 8:00am to 6:00pm/Monday through Friday/ALL; Entire block between Union Avenue and Hawthorne Place.
As you can see from the above, some streets have that word ALL. Nowhere in the ordinance does it say what it means, nor do any of the signs have the word all. According to the MPA, that word is to mean a two-hour parking limit all day.
So you can park on that street for two hours, and then you must be off that street for the rest of the day. This is to prevent people from parking for two hours then taking their car and moving it to the other side of the same road.
But I received my OPRA request information advising that the definition of "all" does not exist in the ordinance. Somewhere during the course of several years, this word "all" was added to many streets. In order for this to be enforced, they must explain what the word "all" means, as it is left open to interpretation. All the signs must be changed.
The second problem is the way it's enforced. The enforcement officers are using observation to determine if a vehicle has been parked for too long. In the past they marked tires with chalk, then issued a ticket. Observation by a parking enforcement officer will not hold up in court.
The township is well aware of the problem with the ordinance, signs, and enforcement problem but still continues to have the officers enforce the parking restrictions.
The municipal judge is aware of the problem, which is why anyone who pleads not guilty and goes to court will have their ticket dismissed.
The town is banking on most people just paying the ticket. With 25 years of working in law enforcement, I have never seen a township continue to issue summonses they know can't be legally enforced.