The Times West Virginian

July 25, 2013

Warnings should have been issued before tickets for parking wrong way

Times West Virginian

— There are certain things that can make most citizens upset or a step further — downright mad

That’s when people are punished without being given a warning that such things are against the law.

Such an incident occurred here back on the morning of July 5, when residents of Bellview Avenue awakened to find their cars had been ticketed while they were asleep. Ticketed for doing something they had been doing for many years.

In the case of Mary Mullenax, who was the first person to call the Times West Virginian to complain, she had been doing it all her life, and she said her father had done it as far back as the family could remember.

And what had these people done? Merely parked in front of their homes. The trouble was they had been “parking the wrong way.” Their cars had been faced against traffic. The “left-to-curb” tickets had been issued to owners of vehicles that were parked along the street facing opposite the direction of traffic.

These people had been stuck with a $90 parking ticket — a fine they did not feel they deserved. We feel the same way.

In the case of Mary Mullenax, her brother and sister-in-law had visited for the Fourth of July holiday — something they had probably done many times over the years. And since they had come in separate cars, they had to pay $180 — $90 for each car.

Then earlier this week we learned the motorists on Owens Avenue had experienced the same fate. Their cars were ticketed for parking against traffic.

“I’ve lived here for 42 years and read the newspapers every day and have never seen any announcement about parking tickets being given for parking against traffic,” Edith Shinaberry complained. “There is no parking on the other side of the street unless the people living there can pull their cars up to their yards.”

Fairmont City Manager Jay Rogers said that such a ruling was state law, that parking in such a manner has been illegal since 1968, and he was not going to apologize for the members of the city police department merely doing their job.

He shouldn’t have to. We’re not asking that this be done.

The “parking-against-traffic” ruling makes sense. It doesn’t have to be explained.

But we think that even the police officers who were instructed to issue these tickets would agree that this matter was not handled in the most positive manner.

When the city decides to enforce a law that has never been enforced since it was put into effect in 1968, the public should be made aware.

After all, motorists had six weeks to get ready for the new seat belt law and a year for the one against using a cell phone without a hands-free device while driving. Motorists have had plenty of time to prepare for these new laws. City drivers should have had the same courtesy with the “old” parking regulations that are now being enforced.

We would like to see the completely fair thing done. Give the people ticketed their money back and begin strict enforcement of the law on Aug. 1.