The Do’s and Don’ts of Downtown Parking

Imagine waking up one morning and looking out the window to see a glaring yellow ticket on your car, realizing that you now will most likely have to pay a fine for your apparent mistake.Whether living on or off campus, each situation creates its own set of predicaments. Parking on Burlington’s streets can be competitive and restrictive, whereas parking on campus means making sure to park in the correct lot.Before learning any more lessons the hard way, here are some important things to know about parking in Burlington, and more importantly, what it will cost upon failing to adhere to the ascribed rules.Let’s start with a little-known fact posted subtly on Burlington’s city Web site. According to Burlington City Ordinance Sec. 20-62, 20-156, “Parking on lawns, yards, walkways, greenbelts and right-of-ways is prohibited.” What will that cost? John King, parking enforcement manager for the Burlington Police Department, gives detailed information about the costs of fines on the department’s Web site. “A vehicle which has been towed can be charged $50.00 for the tow and $12.50 for storage for the first day and $15.00 per day after,” King said. Bill Richards from Spillane’s Towing and Recovery estimated that the company tows about 7,000 cars a year in Burlington. When asked the most common offense that causes people to have their cars towed, Richards said, “People ignoring no-parking-from-here-to-the-corner street signs.” King also said that if a vehicle is at all angled over the sidewalk, or blocking it in any way, that’s a $45 fine. Don’t park on a lawn, ignore street signs or block the sidewalk. As for winter parking, King gave a detailed explanation: It snows a lot in Burlington, which is why many people love it here. However, at times it also makes street parking unavailable and impossible. Watch for flashing lights. They are not hallucinations; there is a parking ban and it is time to move. According to King, cars have until 10 p.m. that night to do so or they will be slapped with a $95 ticket. Now, for those who are not yet living off campus, let us look at the parking situation on the UVM campus. According to John Casey, of UVM Parking and Transportation, in 2007 the department issued 10,430 parking violations. Considering that the first offense is $30, that is more than $300,000 in issued fines. When asked what the money that came from these fines was used for, Casey said, “The fine revenue supports the parking operations, division functions of the department, everything from equipment, lot maintenance to wages, etc.”According to the statistics on the UVM Transportation and Parking Web site, 5,262 citations were issued for parking without a permit. “The ticket would be issued during times when a permit is required in faculty and staff lots,” said Casey. “This is from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Student Resident lots require a permit at all times to ensure that these lots are not overwhelmed with others who should not be parked in them.” Bernie Denehan, a junior who used to live on Redstone, learned this lesson the hard way when her friends parked her car in the Robinson lot on Redstone campus during restricted hours. “I got a $50 dollar ticket for parking with an invalid permit. It was really upsetting,” she said.When Casey was asked to give tips for parking on campus, he directed his response to the UVM Parking and Transportation Web site. He said that the most important thing one can do is to make sure that the sign at the entrance of the lot is the same color and designation as your permit.If the sign is purple and the permit sticker is red, don’t park there, plain and simple.Bottom line: when it comes to parking, be proactive and educated about laws and regulations and there will never be a problem.