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Parking meter offenders to see prices rise

By Lisa Brody

For those who chronically overstay their welcome at Birmingham's parking meters, the fines are going up following recommendations from the city's advisory parking committee and the city's police department.

At their meeting on Monday, July 25, Birmingham city commissioners approved the increase in fines, from $10 to $20 for the first six tickets in a calendar year, and $30 if not paid within 10 days; up to $60 for seven offenses or more in a calendar year, up from $30, and $70 if not paid within 10 days; and $175 for handicap violations, up from $100, with the late fee at $200.

Commissioners bickered over the recommendations from the city, with commissioner Clinton Baller pulling the item from the agenda's consent agenda. He noted there was a divergence of opinion between the advisory parking committee (APC), which had been tasked with looking at parking fines and comparing them with other cities, and the Birmingham Shopping District (BSD), which provided input. The BSD represents the city's retailers, businesses and restaurants.

“Why did we even take it to the BSD? They're not even a department of the city,” Baller said.

Police Chief Scott Grewe disagreed. “The BSD does have a representative on the APC,” he said, noting they wanted to weigh in.

“It was not sent to the BSD, they discussed this on their own,” said city manager Jana Ecker.

The advisory parking committee had noted Birmingham has the lowest fine for expired meters when compared to other communities,, and recommended an increase in expired meter violation to $20, and $100 after five violations in a calendar year, and to increase the parking violations to $175 for handicap. The BSD recommended the commission increase fines from $10 to $20 for the first seven violations, then increase to $50 per violation after seven.

Grewe and Ecker said staff recommended increasing the fines for expired meter to either $25 or $30, and repeat offenders to either $50 or $60. Grewe noted the increase had been on hold since 2020, when COVID hit, and all parking was free for a period of time.

“I would say why do we have habitual offenders? Why don't people want to go to the structures? Is it safety? Is it lighting? Do we want people to have their experience coming into Birmingham be negative,” countered mayor pro tem Elaine McLain.

“Personally, I would move the proposed resolution and see if it affects behavior, if it moves people to the structure,” said mayor Therese Longe. “We could ask for reports in six months.”

“We haven't made a change in a long time. A drastic change would not be well-received. This seems reasonable,” said commissioner Katie Schafer.

Commissioners approved the rate increase, 5-2, with Baller and McLain voting against.


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