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FRIDAY, Dec. 6 — Local residents may soon have to pay a price to park their cars overnight on the streets of Lansing as officials mull over a permitting system and the Lansing City Council looks to pass a new ordinance.
The City Council’s Public Safety Committee met yesterday to discuss the passage of some new parking rules that would ramp up enforcement of an existing ban on citywide parking from 2-5 a.m. while offering residents a $125 permit that would allow them to legally leave their cars parked on streets near their homes all year long.
The draft ordinance, which has been in the works for well more than a year, is expected to finally pass through the City Council later this month and could take effect as early as March 2020, officials said. And the new permitting system has the potential to rake in some serious cash as more tickets are written and permits are sold.
The last time Lansing bothered to enforce its existing 2-5 a.m. parking ban was during a three-month stint of former Mayor Virg Bernero’s administration, said Council President Carol Wood. During that time, one night-shift police officer managed to write an average 1,000 parking tickets monthly, bringing in about $60,000.
Lansing Mayor Andy Schor previously acknowledged that overnight parking enforcement has been lax ever since that officer was pulled off the job before Bernero left office at the end of 2017. Sixty-five police officers in 2017 issued nearly 3,200 tickets for overnight parking violations. Last year? Only 37 officers had issued 743.
Schor said the cost of the permits should more than pay for non-police employees to do the ticketing.
“Enforcing the ordinance with police is not efficient, as ticketing cars is a much lower priority than other crime,” Schor said. “To best enforce the ordinance, we need parking enforcement staff at night. The permits would raise funds to support parking enforcement staff from 2 a.m. to 5 a.m.”
Only one annual parking pass is expected to be granted per residence under the pending rules. Officials are also mulling the idea of additional, temporary passes for out-of-town guests that would allow more cars to park overnight for up to 72 hours. Proof of residency and an “explanation of the need to park” would be required.
Schor said he would also entertain getting rid of the ban altogether, but he said the Council does not seem so inclined. Therefore, he said he was working with the Council to allow for permitting to roll out by next year.
Wood said parking enforcement duties have since been shuffled from the Lansing Police Department into the control — and deeper pockets — of the city’s Economic Development and Planning Department. An added parking officer would be assigned exclusively to overnight shifts; Wood expects the position to pay for itself.
“We came up with a suggestion to do a permit parking instead of just opening it up and allowing anyone to park between 2-5 a.m.,” Wood said. “Our goal from the committee was to make sure this was a need-based permit, meaning that you would have to demonstrate to the parking manager that there was a need for the extra space.”
The draft ordinance — which still needs to pass through committee — requires interested residents to apply for a permit. Sole discretion over that process would fall to Parking Manager Chad Gamble. Wood said those with commercial vehicles and junk-filled garages will not be given a pass to extend their driveways into the street.
Wood said she and her colleagues gathered feedback over the last year from various meetings hosted around the city. Residents can expect to see a discussion on the ordinance resurface at the next meeting of the Public Safety Committee Thursday. From there, it’s expected to reach the full City Council before the end of the year.