The City of Portland is temporarily suspending enforcement of its on-street parking regulations in light of the coronavirus outbreak.

Parking Division staff have been told to stop issuing parking tickets for time zone violations and expired meters, according to a news release issued Thursday by city spokeswoman Jessica Grondin.

However, drivers who park illegally or create an unsafe situation will still be ticketed, the release said. Vehicles that are blocking a road, fire hydrant, driveway or sidewalk; parked in a handicapped space or no parking zone, or that are double parked will be ticketed.

“We’re all working under a new normal right now,” City Manager Jon Jennings said in a statement. “Our message to the public at the time was parking enforcement is a low priority. We said things in this way because at the time we did not want to encourage an excess of people to come downtown given we were hoping people would abide by social distancing in order to lessen the spread of COVID-19.”

Jennings said he felt this was an appropriate time to be more explicit about the city’s stance on parking enforcement, particularly since Gov. Janet Mills issued an executive order to close restaurants and bars to dine-in customers and to only allow carry out or take out service.

Jennings said the city is reminding the public to avoid taking parking spaces in front of businesses, especially those that cater to take-out and delivery orders.

The Parking Division is currently working at half capacity.

“They are being redeployed to other more essential city operations due to staffing shortages,” Jennings said. “Those who remain in parking are handling customer service issues, watching out for safety issues and performing other maintenance related tasks.”

Parking enforcement in Portland’s downtown has always been controversial. The city issues more than 120,000 citations a year, and in 2017 implemented a new digital parking enforcement system to boost revenues.

Last year, the Portland City Council voted to increase fees at metered parking spots by 25 cents – from $1.50 to $1.75 an hour. The higher parking fee was projected to generate about $500,000 in new revenue per year.

Grondin said the city already temporarily suspended its overnight parking restrictions on cars left on streets during street maintenance operations such as catch basin cleaning and sweeping.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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