OXFORD – As Oxford implements paid parking this summer for storefront spaces, the hours of enforcement and the fine structure will likely change.
Downtown Parking Commission members voted Friday to recommend enforcement from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., a $1-per-hour fee and fines that start at $10, top out at $50 and require booting on the fifth offense in a 12-month period.
The board, which has expressed collective weariness with the controversy inherent in studying the issue for the past four years, will likely support the recommendations.
“If y’all decide, they will back you,” Mayor Pat Patterson assured commissioners.
Under the current free parking system, enforcement of the three-hour limit for storefront parking is from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
“The majority of cleanup and policing costs seem to be after 6 p.m.,” said Patterson. “I think more of our problems occur at night.”
Commissioners agreed that charging for early mornings, when parking is abundant, made less sense than charging at night, when restaurants and bars have nearly every space filled. Some commissioners were concerned that downtown employees would be tempted to park on-street at 8:30 or 9 and fail to move to free, off-street parking when both they and the Square get busy in mid-morning. Ultimately, commissioners voted for simplicity.
“It’s nice and simple: $1 an hour, 10 to 10,” said Commissioner Mike Mitchell.
Oxford’s parking management quest began some four years ago with recognition that downtown employees were occupying on-street spaces, discouraging downtown customers. A consensus among city officials for paid parking grew after fines proved to be a small fraction of Standard Parking’s projections.