Parking illegally on Tooele City streets is now more expensive after the City Council approved changes to the city’s parking code during its meeting Wednesday night.
The fine for parking violations in the city, which was previously $25, is now $50 with an escalator to $100 if the fine is not paid within 15 calendar days.
Tooele City Attorney Roger Baker said the City Council requested the city’s administration last fall to review its legal authority to tow vehicles in violation of parking laws, with special concern about cars parked on streets during snow storms that interfered with snow plow safety.
“When a plow has to weave around cars parked on the street, there’s a much greater likelihood for collisions with those cars,” Baker said.
The city’s parking code hadn’t been updated in 29 years, so the changes also include clarification on definitions among the other changes, according to Baker. It also more clearly identifies the instances in which a car can be towed away.
Under the updated code, Tooele City police officers are authorized to remove, or cause to be removed, any vehicle that obstructs normal traffic, including pedestrian and bicycle traffic; obstructs authorized emergency vehicles or service vehicles like snow plows while performing official duties; creates a risk of danger or damage to property; and is abandoned or appears to be abandoned.
“If that vehicle is obstructing the safe flow of traffic, or is deemed as a threat to the public health and safety — those are the occasions in which it is lawful to have a vehicle towed,” Baker said.
State code and Salt Lake City’s parking ordinance were reviewed prior to making changes to Tooele City’s parking code, according to Baker. The proposed code was also presented to Tooele City Police Chief Ron Kirby for his review.
Baker’s proposed parking code amendment would have had a $100 fine upfront, which could be reduced to $50 if paid within 15 days. Councilman Scott Wardle proposed a reverse of the process, so the fine amount would increase if not paid within the same number of days.
Councilman Brad Pratt was supportive of the change, so the fee increases if addressed quickly, as opposed to decreasing if paid in the same window.
“I think if you go with the fine up front and then know that there’s an escalator built into that in a certain period of time, that it will incentivize people to come and take care of the fine and address it,” Pratt said.
Councilman Dave McCall said it worked out the same either way, but having the $100 upfront might grab violators attention and get them to pay the fine more quickly and move the offending vehicle.
“Ultimately to me that’s what we’re trying to do, is to get their attention to get that vehicle off the street,” McCall said.
Tooele City Mayor Debbie Winn said the fine increase was necessary because the current amount was ineffective.
“We just know that $25 doesn’t work,” Winn said. “When you park your travel trailer and get two and three tickets, it’s easier to pay the $25 then it is to go and pay for it to be stored.”
During the City Council’s 7 p.m. business meeting, the changes to the code, along with the fine escalator, was approved unanimously on a motion by Wardle, seconded by Pratt.