No liens to curb parking violators
By BARBARA BEHRENDT
Published April 4, 2007
BROOKSVILLE - The City Council unanimously shot down a controversial plan on Monday to force traffic rule violators to pay for their parking tickets by placing a lien on their property.
Instead, council members told city staff to bring back other options for dealing with the growing parking problem downtown.
While he said the idea of attaching a lien to a person's property was worth discussing, Vice Mayor Frankie Burnett urged the council to look at the wider issue. He said the council should start looking into building a parking garage.
City attorney David LaCroix explained that many cities use the threat of a lien as part of their enforcement plan. "We have no way now to enforce a city parking violation," he said.
But LaCroix also acknowledged that an ordinance allowing the taking of someone's property over traffic violations had generated a flurry of opposition. He said he has heard himself characterized as a Nazi and a communist.
"I was called a redneck," added Mayor David Pugh.
Pugh said he has seen other cities use a device called a boot to immobilize the vehicles of violators. Violators would have to pay a fine to free their vehicles.
That could help solve the problem with repeat offenders, he said.
Part of the problem, Pugh added, is that county employees have been violating the city's parking rules and the city has not been fully enforcing them for the last couple of years.
He suggested the city may want to consider moving its employee parking to the lot beside the main lot, leaving closer parking spaces for people doing business at City Hall.
That is an idea the county should also consider, council member Joe Bernardini suggested.
He said the time may also have come for the city to meet with constitutional officers "to ask them not to let employees park right out in front of the courthouse."
Council member Lara Bradburn said she still opposes running up fees for citations and appeals to citations. They create a "chilling effect on the average citizen," she said.
She favored the boot idea and said her research showed that the city could buy the necessary equipment. "People would learn their lesson," she said.
Pugh said the city can't make any decisions on parking until the county makes its own decisions about future facilities and parking.
Barbara Behrendt can be reached at email@example.com or 352 754-6117.
In other business
The Brooksville City Council on Monday night took the following actions:
- Council members approved a "Civility Resolution" reminding them to display orderly behavior and not be angry, rude or impatient in their discussions. Council member Richard Lewis said he supported civility but opposed the resolution because it was not brought forward in the usual way. Council member Lara Bradburn called the move a "gentle reminder."
- Area residents yearning to know what goes on at Brooksville City Council meetings can soon tune into them on TV. City Council voted to broadcast the regular sessions for airing on Hernando County Government Broadcasting, Bright House Cable Ch. 19. The broadcasting will initially cost the city $5,520 annually. The first taping will be on April 16 with showings scattered over the two weeks between meetings.
- The City Council rejected a request by the Hernando County Emergency Management Office to use the city fire department's ladder truck for annual Hurricane Expo planned for June at Weeki Wachee Springs. Council members rejected the idea voicing concern about having the critical piece of fire equipment out of the city when it might be needed.