Illegal Parking Fines Increased In Saugatuck To Deal With Scofflaws
Saugatuck officials say they want to keep the city as visitor-friendly as possible, but they also want to deter illegal parking and create a level playing field when it comes to parking in downtown spaces which can get very tight during the summer season.
After discussing it in a workshop session and previously postponing it for even further dscussion, the Saugatuck City Council Monday, with a 5-to-2 vote, approved increasing the parking violation fines in town.
“Our police don’t actively look for cars that are illegally parked,” Saugatuck City Manager Kirk Harrier told council.
He added that in most cases, parking violations comes to the city’s and Saugatuck-Douglas Police Department’s attention because a local business complains about another business (i.e., an employee’s prohibited parking obstructs or limits the parking options for an employee or owner of a different business).
After Monday’s resolution, generally, fines of $3, $5, $10 and $15 were increased to $25. Fines for blocking fire hydrants or fire lanes increased to $50 while illegal parking in handicapped spaces increased to $100, previously $50.
There is also a fine for failure to purchase or display a valid Oval Beach sticker; that fine was reduced from $50 to $25 following previous council discussion where some members said they felt the original amount was exorbitant. A $50 administrative fee will also now be charged in addition to any towing or impound fees charged by the towing company.
“These fines were determined to be consistent with other municipalities in the area (South Haven, Holland, and Park Township),” said Harrier.
“I am not finding that this is overextending the reach of the city,” said Saugatuck City Council Member Barry Johnson, who voted for the measure.
Others agreed. “These (fines) are ridiculously low. I am okay with it (the resolution),” said Saugatuck City Council Member Jane Verplank.
Saugatuck Mayor Pro-Tem Ken Trester, however, was not in favor of it, saying the Saugatuck area has a reputation for being more of a stickler when it comes to traffic citations than say South Haven or Holland.
“I hate to add this (fine increase) to our reputation,” said Trester.
He, and Saugatuck Mayor Chris Peterson. were the dissenting voices, while Saugatuck City Council Members Verplank, Johnson, Jeff Spangler, Mark Bekken, and Bill Hess all voted for the measure.
The change was partially initiated by Interim Chief Steve Kent who suggested that the fines before Monday night were not an effective deterrent to illegal parking.