Friday, December 16, 2005

Parking restrictions rile some motorists

Express Staff Writer

For those people making merry in Ketchum this season, the Police Department is issuing a reminder: Do not leave your car parked on city streets overnight.

In addition to the reminder, police are offering up $35 tickets for overnight parking violations.

"We've always issued tickets on overnight parking," said community service officer Kim Rogers. "Our enforcement is continual."

Winter regulations are in effect from November to April, Rogers said.

Vehicles must not be parked in any city-owned parking lot or on city-owned streets between the hours of 2 a.m. and 7 a.m.

Additional restrictions apply in the city core, where two-hour limits are in place.

Streets need to be free from cars at night so city workers can move equipment, sand streets and consolidate piles of snow, Rogers said.

"Even when it's not snowing, the Streets Department has to have access to streets," she said.

The city used to tow and impound vehicles that were parked illegally overnight, she said. The city implemented two years ago a new policy of moving cars instead.

"(Impounding) was very expensive for citizens," Rogers said.

Relocating cars is less of a burden on the Streets Department and towing companies, and thus fewer expenses are passed along to taxpayers, she said.

Newcomers, and even longtime residents, may not be aware of all restrictions.

Parking regulation notifications are posted at the city's entrances. But signs are not posted on every street because of the eyesore they would create, Rogers said.

Signs—their placement and frequency—are one topic among many being studied by the city while it formulates a downtown master plan.

"When we do the downtown master plan, we're going to take a hard look at where street signs are and what we should put on the post," said Ketchum City Administrator Ron LeBlanc. "There has to be a balance between having every block saturated with signs and what would be aesthetically acceptable."

City officials have also discussed developing a lot, be it public or private, where people could park overnight, as well as creating a uniformity of parking signs to better cue drivers, Le Blanc said.

These items will be addressed as part of the ongoing public discussion and eventual implementation of the master plan.

In the meantime, the free Ketchum Area Rapid Transit buses are available to shuttle bar-goers and diners around town and to Sun Valley until midnight.

Options for south valley residents who don't want to drive home, and for Ketchumites who stay out past the witching hour, are limited to finding a parking space on private property, with permission, of course.

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