Violators owe city $57,000+

Outstanding tickets will earn drivers 'the boot'

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— You know who you are. You've been issued at least three parking tickets and they've all taken an express trip to the garbage.

Unfortunately, the city's police department knows who you are, too. And, starting soon, the city may be taking action to make sure those people on the Scofflaw list a list of the people who have failed to pay three parking tickets or more over the past five years pay up.

The city is owed $10,795 from people on the Scofflaw list, which makes up about 18.8 percent of the total parking fines still owed (a whopping $57,340). The highest individual fine for the 43 people currently on the list is $1,200 on an owner who has collected fines on two separate automobiles.

The $57,000, which City Manager Paul Hughes says ought to be collected so the city can use it to pay itself back for costs associated with issues like police protection and roads, dates back to the introduction of the police department's computer system in Aug. 1995.

"These are people who didn't just forget that they had gotten a ticket," Hughes said. "These are people who have ignored mailed notices and have been told that they are on the Scofflaw list and have been warned about the consequences that are in the code. So, I think they're just waiting for us to do what we said we'd do and we're going to."

Until now, the city has hoped delivering letters, in some cases by hand, would compel the offenders to pay their fines. Some of those letters threatened them with the possible impoundment of their cars, said Code Enforcement Officer Roger Chittenden.

After one more warning on the City Page of the Steamboat Today next Monday, however, it's going to be no more Mr. Nice Guy.

"Now if we find those vehicles we're going to start booting them," Chittenden said.

The city has ordered two "boots" that it can place on the wheels of cars that match the license numbers and descriptions on the Scofflaw list. The boot locks onto the wheel of a car and immobilizes it so that the driver cannot get away without getting the device removed. In order to get the boots taken off, the owners will have to pay their fines. The cars must be in a public parking space or lot to be targeted police officers won't be going to people's homes to take their cars, Chittenden said.

The department will also be impounding some cars the old-fashioned way, without using what Hughes called "Denver boots."

Many of the cars ticketed repeatedly were cited for parking too long in one of the numerous two hour spots in the city. Chittenden, who patrols the downtown area, said the number of tickets he issues has not risen much in the past few months.

He said he usually issues between 8 and 15 tickets a day, he said. Chittenden said he thinks the public has become keen to the dangers of parking illegally, because he is diligent about issuing tickets every day in the downtown area.

Shane Jacobs, the city's other code enforcement officer, patrols the mountain area.

The two officers rely on public works officials to issue tickets throughout the night.

Most minor parking violations, such as parking too close to a fire hydrant or a driveway carry $10 fines, though the fine jumps to $25 if there is a posted sign.

Fines double if they are not paid within 14 days and continue to double if they are continually ignored, Jacobs said.

The doubling stops once the fine reaches $160, though there may be additional administrative costs, Jacobs said.

The highest fine people can receive is a $200 ticket issued the second time they are caught in a handicapped spot.

If a car is towed, owners on the Scofflaw list will have to pay the fines in order to get their cars back.


To reach Avi Salzman call 871-4203 or e-mail asalzman@steamboatpilot.com

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