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‘It’s a bad idea,’ drivers insist as new law introduced that limits free parking

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SHOPPERS and residents alike were disappointed after city lawmakers announced they’re revoking free parking downtown.

A developing shopping area is reviving paid parking, even after it failed the first time.

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A growing tourist area is implementing paid parking along the main strip for downtown shoppers, upsetting localsCredit: WJHG
The city had previously attempted to implement paid parking but withdrew it to encourage shoppers

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The city had previously attempted to implement paid parking but withdrew it to encourage shoppersCredit: WJHG

Panama City, Florida is known for the plentiful shopping options for residents and tourists in the downtown area.

Shoppers could spend hours going from shop to shop, as they didn’t have to fret over parking meters or paying for a spot in a garage.

However, as of May 1, that changed as city lawmakers announced plans to implement paid parking for downtown shoppers.

Board members said the parking charges would start on Harrison Avenue at $1 per hour, but leave most of the area free to park in.

Read More about Paid Parking

Jenna Haligas, a board member on the Panama City Commission, said businesses began to complain about several cars parking in front of their storefronts for more than two hours.

Because of the low turnaround for parking spots, many claimed it hurt sales.

“It all started with business complaints,” Haligas told NBC affiliate WJHG-TV.

“What we want to do is manage that parking and make sure people aren’t sitting there for more than two hours or more than 24 hours.”

To ease the tension, city commissioners also told the outlet that shoppers can choose to park in several free lots that will dot the area.

The only paid parking will be along Harrison Avenue.

‘It’s an error,’ rages driver who paid $50 to park legally but was towed & fined $200 – getting answers was ‘impossible’

Revenue from paid parking would go back to the city to help fund future development projects as the downtown area grows.

Commissioners said nothing is set in stone as they try to figure out a solid plan to improve business.

More than 600 comments were added to the Facebook post from the outlet, with many drivers expressing their distaste for the change.

“It’s a bad idea,” one driver wrote, indicating that free parking helped encourage shoppers.

“It’s unfortunate that our city is so poor there needs to be other sources of revenue and stop nickel and diming shoppers.”

Another commenter wrote that paid parking would detour people from visiting, and cause further harm to businesses.

How to fight a parking ticket

You can avoid being ticketed by following all posted laws and ordinances, but sometimes mistakes are made

Like any form of citation, parking tickets are preventable by reading and obeying posted signage. However, when visiting a new city, or state, or in a hurry, things can be missed and mistakes are made.

Suddenly there’s a ticket you weren’t prepared to pay for. If the ticket is a surprise to you, there are a few things you can do to help your case when appealing a parking ticket.

  • Carefully read the ticket. Look for errors like incorrect street names, license plate numbers, vehicle make and model, time and date, etc. Errors would then make the ticket invalid.
  • Take photos. Of the vehicle in the parking space, lack of signage, or other vehicles that weren’t cited for performing the same parking job. If the ticket involves parking too close to something like a fire hydrant, a photo showing a reasonable distance would help your case. Make sure metadata with the time and date are accessible. Signs that are obstructed by trees, or are on bent posts, or aren’t “obvious” are great things to photograph, too.
  • Make sure the statute that was violated is listed on the ticket. If not listed, the ticket is not valid.
  • Promptly follow the appeal instructions on the ticket. All legitimate tickets will have directions for appeal. Waiting until the very last moment weakens your argument and can result in late fees.
  • When in court, avoid these phrases as they reduce your credibility and weaken your argument:
    • “I didn’t know the law.”
    • “I was on my way to move my car.”
    • “I can’t afford this ticket.”
    • “I’ve been doing this for years.”
    • “I checked with the parking officer, who said it was OK.”
  • Contact a lawyer. If you’re running into roadblocks and feel stuck, it may be best to reach out to a traffic lawyer in your area. Many have free case consultations.

Source: Reader’s Digest

“We love to go downtown, and parking is sometimes tough as is,” they wrote.

“Charging to park in an area that is just now starting to be revitalized will run off customers.”

Someone else reminded other readers of the city’s previous attempt at implementing paid parking along the main strip, only to revoke it to encourage shopping.

“I remember when the parking meters were taken out to promote downtown business with free parking,” their comment read.

“Now we’re back to parking meters to control the ‘vagrant’ parking.”

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