Red Lion man: Local parking rules a 'bureaucratic exercise'

Lindsey O'Laughlin
York Dispatch

A local man went before the Red Lion Borough Council on Monday to ask for a $35 parking ticket to be rescinded, opening a discussion about a problem that's not unique to Red Lion: too many cars and not enough street parking.

The resident, Clyde Willis, said he lives in an apartment on West Broadway in the borough, and he was miffed that he was given a parking ticket for leaving his car in the same spot for more than three days, even though he was out of town.

"I’ve seen people park their vehicles over weeks and no tickets. They’re just not on highly visible streets," he said. "It sort of feels like I’m being singled out at that point."

The borough has a street parking ordinance that prohibits people from leaving their vehicles in the same spot for more than 72 hours. Enforcement is based on complaints from other residents.

To avoid getting a ticket, residents sometimes move their cars by just one or two spaces. One council member suggested that if someone from the borough uses chalk to mark Willis' tires and check whether he'd moved the car, he could just move the car by one or two feet to show he wasn't parked in the same place.

Willis said the parking rules seemed like a revenue stream targeting residents, referring to the process as a "bureaucratic exercise."

The point of the 72-hour rule is that if people move their cars around or change where they park, it can help make room for others to park on the street, said council Vice President Cynthia Barley.

"It’s not a revenue generator," she said. "That $35 does not help us balance our budget."

Borough officials told Willis that he should call the office when he's going to be out of town to let them know he won't be able to move his car, and if there's a complaint against him during that time, he won't be ticketed.

Parking on West Broadway in Red Lion, Friday, March 12, 2021. Dawn J. Sagert photo

But Willis said that although he appreciated the courtesy, it didn't make sense to him to have residents jockeying their vehicles around to avoid getting a ticket, and that the borough should consider changing the ordinance or finding another long-term solution to the parking problem.

The borough council voted 5-2 to waive Willis' parking ticket.

Lack of parking has been a problem in the borough for the past 50 years, said council President Tony Musso.

In the 1970s and 1980s, there was no requirement for landlords to provide off-street parking when they converted single-family homes into apartments, Musso said.

Houses that used to have one family and one or two cars became houses with three or four apartments and six or seven cars, he said.

The rules are a lot more strict now, Musso said, and landlords who want to split a house into apartments are required to provide off-street parking, but that doesn't address the properties that are exempt because they were converted before the new rules took effect.

"It didn’t matter whether you had parking or not," Musso said of the older properties. "And now, it’s biting the residents in the ass."

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