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Rock Hill council approves stiffer downtown parking penalties

Rock Hill leaders plan to crack down on drivers who continually violate the two-hour parking limit downtown or don’t pay their parking fines.

The City Council voted unanimously Tuesday night for several changes to parking laws, targeting repeat offenders through increased fines and stricter enforcement.

The council had considered the proposal last month, but council members Kevin Sutton and John Black deferred it, asking for even stricter enforcement and for more business owners’ input.

Downtown development manager David Lawrence said he met with five business owners and talked once more to the downtown parking commission.

On Tuesday night, the council OK’d warnings for motorists on their first three parking violations.

“There was strong support for that,” Lawrence said of those he contacted downtown.

For the fourth violation, the proposed fine is a $20. Fines will increase by $10 for violations five through eight, a change from the original proposal, which called for a $10 fine on the fourth violation and no fine increase until the ninth violation.

A person’s car will be towed on their 20th violation, or if they reach $400 in fines.

“You hit that dollar amount or number much more quickly under this proposed system,” Lawrence said.

Fines are cut in half if a person pays them within 30 days. Enforcement of the fines has been moved to the city’s municipal court.

Downtown parking is handled by the city’s Economic Development Department. Lawrence has said he hopes these changes will give visitors and customers a chance for better parking and create more turnover of spaces.

Also included in plans for downtown parking is a $2,300 handheld device purchased last year.

By entering a car’s license plate number, a parking officer would be able to determine immediately whether the driver has violated downtown parking rules and, if so, the number of violations. The device would then print a ticket with the appropriate fine.

The changes are expected to go into effect July 1 of this year.