Do we need a downtown parking hall of shame?

Sheena Basness, Community Service Officer, Northfield Police DepartmentSheena Basness, Community Service Officer with the Northfield Police Department, was chalking tires downtown in front of Hogan Bros on Tuesday morning.  I’ve been waiting a long time to get this photo, as I commented here last year in the discussion on the blog post Downtown parking: what’s really needed? in which I’d asked:

Do downtown business owners and their employees too often park in these spots or is that a myth?

How rigorously do the police enforce downtown parking ordinances?

The City Council has rejected for now the Streetscape Task Force’s recommendation to:

… spend an estimated $760,000 to purchase a parcel on Washington Street near the library, raze a home on the site and add parking.

So what can be done to improve parking availability downtown? Officer Basness said she chalks tires several times a week in the two-hour parking zone downtown. She indicated that there are several (many?) downtown store/building owners and office workers who are chronic offenders, that citations are $10 if paid promptly, and that an accumulation of 5 tickets results in a stiffer fine.

I couldn’t find anything (can anyone else find it?) specific about downtown parking in the Municipal Code section ARTICLE IV. – STOPPING, STANDING AND PARKING but Sec. 78-104. – Violation and penalties says:

Any person who violates sections 78-93(a), 78-94, 78-96, 78-97, 78-99, 78-101, 78-102, 78-103, 78-105, and 78-106 shall be guilty of a petty misdemeanor punishable by a fine in the amount established by resolution. Each two-hour period in a two-hour parking zone that a violation of this section exists shall be a separate offense. After the first tagged violation, each 15-minute period in a no parking yellow zone, bus stop or taxi zone or a double parking zone shall be a separate offense. All vehicles in violation are subject to being towed away at the owner’s expense.

I like the idea of parking hall of shame website/blog like the Jersey City Parking Hall of Shame Inductees.


  1. Griff Wigley said:

    To avoid any confusion, I’ve blocked out the license plate of the car in the photo, as it was not being tagged, only chalked.

    May 27, 2011
  2. Myrna Mibus said:

    I’ve always been frustrated with the two hour parking limit. People coming in to Northfield to shop and eat can hardly eat lunch without exceeding the two hour limit. Add some shopping to lunch and a person might have to move their car two or three times. Hardly contributes to a walkable downtown or people shopping locally. Though my complaint is not what you are bringing up, Griff, that business owners and employees may be parking where they should not be.

    May 27, 2011
  3. Jerry Bilek said:

    the washington st parking lot between 4th and 5th has all day parking. anyone who will be downtown for more than 2 hours should use that lot. there are also lots near the library, post office, and water street. I’m not sure what the time restrictions are in those lots.

    May 28, 2011
  4. A.Ripka said:

    to be fair, i think there are more office workers than shop owners parking downtown – particularly on Division. most stores only have one person working at a time (one car?) and i know most of us are very well aware of the two hour limit, especially owners. besides, we do not want to lose business because someone couldn’t park near our store. at least, this is the mindset of most shop owners i talk to.
    there are two office buildings near my store – the nutting block and several offices across the street. the lot across from the library is full all day, which i suspect most of the office workers utilize; it is pretty much cleared out when i get off work @ 6. i believe The Measuring Cup, Fine Threads, Tagg2, Arts Guild and Digs all have at least one parking spot each in the back (still do?). The stores near me try to park in the lot across library if it isn’t full, otherwise a block up near the church is another no-limit spot typically used. there have been many times that i’ve wondered who is actually parking along Division – especially when we all are having uneventful sales, and yet all the parking spots are filled. where are the people that belong to all those cars?

    i agree with Myrna about the two-hour limit, too. maybe three hours? just doesn’t seem enough to grab some food and shop around. then again, it’s similar to meters up in the cities. glad customers don’t have to worry about running out to fill those!

    on a last side note, my fiance HATES parking in Northfield. he always gets upset that he can never find a parking spot unless it’s 3 blocks away, completely off of Division Street. granted, he has a knack for making a mountain out of an ant hill, but still…it’s not the first time i’ve heard someone complain.

    May 31, 2011
  5. I’ll confess; when Reboot was still NLC, and was located at 302 Division I frequently parked near the front of the store. My excuse (valid or not) was that several times a day I was leaving for house calls, and would frequently need to unload computer equipment. I routinely heard complaints from our customers about not being able to find parking spots. Now that Reboot is at our Bridge Square location, the parking issue has improved for my customers, as the spaces in Bridge Square seem to open up more frequently (well, until the start of a nearby construction project).

    On busy days, parking in downtown Northfield is easily as frustrating as parking in the Uptown region of Minneapolis. What I’d love to see is the addition of a handful of 20 minute parking spaces per block, for people who just need time to drop something off, stop in and grab a sandwich or cup of coffee, etc.

    May 31, 2011
  6. Shelley Brady said:

    This reminds me of a story a good friend of mine told me. She and her husband have a business downtown and always obey the parking rules never parking on Division and other spots designated for two hour parking while in the office. She came downtown one afternoon and parked on Division Street, ate lunch, shopped at 3 different stores and spent over $300.00 in downtown Northfield. Came back to her car, running about 20 minutes late of her 2 hours and found a ticket. She accomplished a lot in 2 hours, spent a good amount of money and had to pay a parking ticket. Really? How is that encouraging shopping downtown Northfield?

    May 31, 2011
  7. I love the idea of a parking hall of shame, though I’m not sure it feels very “Northfield.”

    More seriously, from what source does the sense of a “parking problem” in Northfield originate? Has it been documented in any rigorous way? I ask partly because I distrust anecdotes and partly (self-contradictorily) I’ve never had to park more than a block or two from the place I need to go, unless it’s during DJJD, the Winter Walk or a similar event (during which all parking rules are off anyhow). I compare the luxurious ease of parking downtown to places with real parking problems: downtown Minneapolis, say, or anywhere within a mile of the lake in Chicago. By comparison we have plenty of spots near to the places we need to go.

    June 6, 2011
  8. Margaret Colangelo said:

    I work downtown and make a point of parking somewhere OFF Division Street.
    My big parking peeve is when folks park OVER the white lines, thereby taking up 2 spaces. I can see the white lines, why can’t they?

    June 8, 2011
  9. Griff Wigley said:

    Suzy Rook column in the Nfld News: Leave room for Northfield’s paying customers

    The girl behind the coffee shop counter wasn’t at all shy about telling me and the gentleman I was meeting with that he shouldn’t be worried about leaving his car parked on Division Street for more than two hours. After all, she said, she parked there for her entire shift every work day and had never so much as seen a parking ticket.

    May 30, 2012

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