Portland may relax street parking restrictions

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PORTLAND — A summer reprieve could be coming for people who violate street parking rules.

On Nov. 15, the City Council Sustainability & Transportation Committee, led by Councilor Spencer Thibodeau, will hold a public hearing on whether the city should not penalize violators of overnight and other city parking rules from June 1-Sept. 30.

“The goal is to bring some additional common sense to parking regulations,” Thibodeau said Oct. 18, the day after the changes were first presented to the committee by city staff.

Current rules ban parking from 12:01-7 a.m. and 10 a.m.-2 p.m. on opposite sides of city streets twice monthly. Which days of the week are affected depend on the zone.

The proposed changes would not include the Portland Downtown District on the city peninsula, known as Service Area 3. Weekly parking restrictions there are 11:30 p.m. Sunday through 7 a.m. Monday for odd-numbered sides of streets, and 11:30 p.m. Monday through 7 a.m. Tuesday for even sides.

An Oct. 5 memo from Mike Murray, the assistant to City Manager Jon Jennings, said street sweeping is “no longer the norm during … restricted parking.”

Public works staff primarily sweeps streets to clear leaves in the autumn and to remove sand and salt in the spring, Murray said. They cleans streets more frequently during the day from late spring through early fall.

The changes would be the first since regulations were tweaked in 2013 to prohibit parking two days per month instead one day per week.

City staff is also recommending eliminating the “odd/even” parking restrictions off the peninsula where on-street parking is limited to odd-numbered sides of streets on odd-numbered days, and even-numbered sides of streets on even-numbered days. Overnight parking would be unrestricted.

The odd/even rules are only enforced in Deering Center, near the University of Southern Maine and in an area of Libbytown, Murray said in the memo.

The city would continue to clean streets from June 1-Sept. 30, and Thibodeau said it has not been determined how violators would be warned about infractions. The fines are currently $15 for overnight parking, and $30 for daytime violations.

Murray estimated the changes would cost the city $172,500 in lost revenue from parking tickets, with $150,000 of that related to not enforcing overnight parking.

“Our goal is not to be a ticket authority or raise revenue based on parking tickets,” Thibodeau said. “I hope this demonstrates we are not ticketing for the money, we are ticketing because there is a violation.”

David Harry can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 110 or dharry@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @DavidHarry8.

Portland is considering amending overnight parking rules so violators would not be fined or towed from June 1-Sept. 30, except for streets in the downtown district.

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Portland City Hall reporter for The Forecaster. Baltimore native, lived in Maine since 1989. A journalist since 2005, covering much of Cumberland and York counties. I joined The Forecaster in 2012.