People with slips of paper in hand filled the chairs in the Brainerd City Hall conference room about an hour before the council meeting even started.
Parking ticket appeals dominated the Personnel and Finance Committee meeting, creating a short delay in getting the city council session started at 7:30 p.m. And the subject came up again during the council session.
Two issues stand out. And each comes with a $25 ticket on a vehicle's windshield. On one side are people who park for more than two hours in a single spot downtown. Others said they were penalized for being creatures of habit and parking in the same spot in front of their own homes.
A city ordinance states a vehicle cannot remain parked on a city street unmoved for 48 hours. The Brainerd Police Department takes down license plate numbers at different times of day to indicate who should get tickets.
Peter Bergman, owner of Air Hobbies in downtown Brainerd, was one of several downtown business owners concerned with the parking issues effect on business. At the Personnel and Finance Committee meeting earlier in the night Nila Patrick, owner of VIP Floral Gift and Wedding and the Ivy Room restaurant in downtown Brainerd, had similar concerns.
Bergman said the effect seems to be to penalize people from coming downtown more than once in a day. The city's parking ordinance limits drivers from parking a vehicle in one spot for two hours and then coming back later in the day and parking closer than three blocks from that first location. The original goal with the ordinance was to create greater turnover in parking spots.
Bergman said the result is someone who has breakfast in the morning and comes back later for a haircut, with the businesses located near each other, is penalized.
"It's not right," Bergman said. "If the intent is to destroy downtown it's working."
While the idea of a parking ramp is great, Bergman said there are current resources, such as increased diagonal parking, that would help now. Council President Jim Dehen said it was not an issue that was going to be discussed at Monday's meeting. Bergman spoke during the open forum. Dehen said the issue should go back to the Parking Commission.
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