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Your next trip downtown could result in a parking ticket if you’re not mindful of how long you’re parked.

“We have had a two-hour parking restriction in downtown for many years,” said Paris City Manager John Godwin. “Like in downtowns across the country, this is a technique used to prevent drivers from camping all day in a spot and thereby making it difficult for customers to get to stores, restaurants, offices, etc.”

Godwin said Paris police officers will periodically chalk tires and write parking tickets to remind folks the law is on the books and encourage them to comply voluntarily. The law in Paris went into effect Oct. 10, 2016.

“They wrote several last week, partially in response to general complaints about drivers taking up spots in front of local businesses,” Godwin said. “Parking availability is extremely important for a successful, growing downtown, so we will continue to enforce the law when needed.”

Daryl Felsberg, owner of Olive Paris, said ticketing people could discourage folks from coming downtown.

“I do think ticketing people for parking past the two-hour limit could possibly set us back from all of the progress we have made in downtown Paris over the past five to seven years,” he said. “We certainly don’t want to punish people when they do come downtown.”

Barry Shelton, assistant city manager of McKinney, Texas, who has a thriving downtown area said the city did a study in 2004-2005, which resulted in a two-hour parking limit as well.

“We wrote down license plates of cars every hour, on the hour, to try and figure out how long people were parking downtown,” he said. “With that, we then went to the public for input. We did public outreach, ran videos and came up with a proposal for a two-hour limit.”

Paris Police Chief Bob Hundley said the enforcement days in Paris’ downtown are not near as often as they need to be.

“There are downtown retail businesses who rely on parking for their customers and we do field complaints about employees from downtown businesses using most of the parking,” Hundley said.

Shelton said merchants in McKinney began complaining, as well.

“The city hired parking officers as a result,” he said. “This was cheaper than using police officers.”

He said as the tickets started to come in, he saw complaints on the other side of the issue as well. He said the city then went to a three-hour limit on parking.

“This seemed to help with the tickets,” he said. “Now, though, the merchants are pushing for parking meters rather than writing any tickets at all. Most people in an urban area expect parking meters. I don’t think I could say the same for a rural downtown.”  

Felsberg had the same idea about parking meters, saying they would be better than parking tickets.

Godwin said Paris doesn’t have any plans for parking meters in the near future.

“I do think when all of the downtown road construction is completed things will settle down and there will be more parking for all,” Felsberg said. “We do hear frequently that downtown is dead. My question is, if it is so dead, then why do we now have parking issues?”

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