NOBLESVILLE — If you're planning to head downtown to the courthouse in Noblesville, or you're just grabbing a bite to eat, or doing a little shopping, and you've parked in a two-hour parking spot — you truly only get two hours. Some people say that it is not long enough.
"If you're not out in two hours you get a ticket. If you're there for four hours and that's two tickets," Suzi Swaim who works at Syd's Bar and Grill in downtown Noblesville, said.
"I avoid driving completely downtown," Swaim said. "I uber to work. Because in one year I got ten tickets."
Swaim says the two-hour parking options around the square where she works are not realistic for her to use and do not allow customers to stay downtown very long.
"It kind of hurts businesses downtown because people don't know how long it's going to take to get waited on in a restaurant or enjoy our downtown businesses," she said. "It hurts us."
During the week, between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., drivers are allowed two free hours of parking, not two hours per spot.
New technology in the city's new parking enforcement vehicle reads license plates and aims to eliminate jumpers. Which means drivers who move their car to a free two-hour spot every two hours will still get ticketed.
"It's confusing to a lot of people," Swaim said.
The City of Noblesville says the purpose of the free two-hour parking is to allow customers easier access to businesses. By capping parking at two hours, it means those spaces have a high turnover.
"There is public parking. There are places to park. The mayor has done a nice job of trying to provide parking," Joe Murello, a Noblesville sriver, said. "They are further away. They are not on the square."
That is a challenge the city faces is getting people to understand there are public parking lots available that require a few minutes of walking. A new parking garage is also being built downtown.
Noblesville city officials are looking at the ordinance now, along with parking enforcement, to bring the city up to more modern practices and procedures.
The last time the downtown parking ordinance was updated was 30 years ago, which set the rules for the two-hour free parking, prohibited spot jumping and 25-cent meters downtown.
Noblesville Police Chief Kevin Jowitt provided the following statement for RTV6 explaining the ordinances and the new technology:
“We are enforcing ordinances that have existed for decades with new technology. The only change is in the method with which we are tracking impermissible parking. The ordinance establishing time restricted parking spaces has not been changed by the Noblesville Common Council since August 10, 1989. All using the License Plate Reader system does is leverage technology to perform enforcement tasks more effectively and efficiently.”
Below is a Q&A between RTV6 and the City of Noblesville, for more information.
Employees say it’s difficult for them to move their cars during their shift and for customers to be able to spend several hours downtown:
"The city provides ample long-term parking. Whether working or visiting, the city recommends that drivers park in lots, meters or on streets without restrictions if they plan to be downtown longer than 2 hours. These options may be a block or two away but we think business owners want the spaces closest to their store available for their customers, not taken up by their employees or workers from neighboring stores.
This principal is not unique to our downtown – it’s just different in that they do not have designated parking lots like a strip mall or a Meijer. Other retail places across the city – whether big box stores or smaller businesses – have the closest spots in their parking lot open for customers and make employees park farther away. Depending on the location, parking in a free street spot downtown and walking to your place of employment could be closer than where an employee at a large retail store has to park."
People are concerned the two-hour parking hurts local businesses:
"The purpose of the free two-hour space parking is to allow customers easier access to businesses. By capping it at two hours, it also means that those spaces have high turnover and the next customer has an easier time finding a space. If the two-hour restriction was not there, someone could park in a spot in front of a restaurant or business all day without moving.
In a recent downtown parking study, 73% of spaces in the free 2-hour parking zone saw turnover in one hour – and 92% of spaces had turnover in two hours. The city also only has 1 active storefront listing (or available vacancy) in downtown. Parking has been discussed for a long time in our city, but our downtown is vibrant and thriving. Part of the challenge we face is changing the mindset – there are plenty of options to park all-day or free, but it may require a few minutes of walking."
Can you get more than one ticket in a day?
"Yes. Once you receive a ticket that “starts the clock” over again. So another two hours after receiving your 1st ticket, you could receive a 2nd ticket."
How much are the parking tickets and how long do you have to pay them?
"If you receive a ticket today, it would be $10 (if parking over the time limit, $50 if illegally parking in a handicap space) if paid within 7 days of issuance. $20 for 8-14 days ($60); $40 for 15-21 days ($80); $60 for 22-28 days ($100); $80 for 29-35 days ($125); and $100 if unpaid after 36 days of issuance ($150). *(signifies handicap infraction prices)"
What is the purpose of the vehicle and what was used before this?
"This vehicle is equipped with new technology and a license plate reader (LPR) camera and software package that scans vehicle license plates. The Police Department has started patrolling and collecting data using the new vehicle, but it has not started enforcement with it. The old method of parking enforcement used an NPD scooter and chalking tires."