Halloween parking fines climb again in Salem | News

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SALEM — Parking fines just got much more costly for Halloween tourists, because market rates for parking won’t stop climbing.

The Salem City Council took its first of two votes Thursday night to establish fines of $75 across the board for several types of parking violations during October specifically. The list includes parking within 10 feet of a fire hydrant or 4 feet of a driveway or private road, leaving a car on a crosswalk or sidewalk, or parking on a street restricted by the city’s October resident parking program.

The residential parking program, which bars out-of-towners from parking on most residential streets near or in downtown during October, currently has a $50 fine for violations. That was changed in 2019 — the last Halloween before the COVID-19 pandemic curbed festivities in 2020. Fines for violating the zone-based residential sticker program, normally $15 throughout the year, are separately set at $40 on October weekends specifically but are also due to become a $75 violation for the entire month.

A $50 hit for a parking fine may seem steep. But come 2021, it was clear the parking market had caught up to the city on that, according to Ward 1 Councilor Bob McCarthy.

“Unfortunately, I could dig into my phone and find a picture of a sign for a parking lot in October that went to $60,” said McCarthy, who represents the Derby Street neighborhood on the periphery of downtown. “All they have to do is go online and pull the Code of Ordinances, and find out the ticket for parking in front of someone’s house that’s a resident zone is only $40.”

“In their mind, they just saved $20,” McCarthy continued. “I wish we could put a caveat to this, that it’s $75 — or whatever the highest fee charged for a parking lot is.”

Councilor-at-Large Conrad Prosniewski, with four decades of Halloween under his belt as a retired police officer, said many coming to Salem in past years were clever when choosing to break the rules.

“It was very common for people from out of town and out of state to ask us (police), ‘How much is a parking ticket?’” Prosniewski said. “Quickly doing the math in their head, they figure a ticket is a lot easier than parking elsewhere.”

Over time, as fines increased, police realized “we don’t get those questions so often anymore,” Prosniewski said.

But now parking violations are a different animal, according to McCarthy. He pointed to the recent experience of police Chief Lucas Miller, who experienced his first Halloween in Salem last year.

“He was literally witnessing a car get towed, and the car wasn’t gone more than five minutes, and someone else pulled into the spot with plates from another state,” McCarthy said. “It just has to be dis-incentivized.”

  • Category Base violation October

    Within 10 feet of a fire hydrant $50 $75

    On a crosswalk $25 $75

    On a sidewalk $25 $75

    Within 4 feet of a driveway or private road $15 $75

    In a bus stop $15 $75

    Residential sticker program $15 $75

    Residential October parking ban — $75

    • = Received first passage April 14, 2022. Requires second and final passage to take effect.

    Contact Dustin Luca at 978-338-2523 or DLuca@salemnews.com. Follow him at facebook.com/dustinluca or on Twitter @DustinLucaSN.

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