June 9, 2018 — With the start of tourist season, parking availability in Florence’s Historic Old Town area becomes a challenge for residents as well as visitors, who often find themselves vying for the same spots to leave their vehicle while working, playing or simply residing there. To address some of the issues resulting from car owners leaving their vehicles parked in Old Town for extended periods, the city updated its parking restrictions in 2011 to include more stringent enforcement in an effort to rotate parking spaces on a regular basis throughout the day.
Though these rules have been in effect for seven years, some recent activity on local social media this week made it clear that not everyone was aware of the restrictions, where those restrictions are enforced or what other parking options are available, particularly for those who live or work in the Old Town District.
“I truly understand the plight of employees who work there,” said Florence Code Enforcement Officer Dan Frazier. “If they get a $35 citation, that’s probably approaching half a day’s wages. I try to give verbal warnings as much as I can, but I have a job to do. I generally give a half-hour leeway to allow people extra time to move their car.”
In truth, the only area in Old Town with posted parking restrictions are on Bay Street, from Nopal to the area just west of the bridge; on Laurel Street, rom First to Bay Street; Maple Street, from First to Bay Street; and on Nopal Street, from First to Bay Street. Signs are posted in those areas, with time limits of no more than three hours.
And that’s all year long, not just in the summers.
Citation amounts begin with $15 for the first offense, followed by a $25 citation for the second offense, $35 for the third offense and $50 should the owner be cited a fourth time all in the same year.
In addition, any recreational vehicles, trailers or vehicles more than seven feet tall are not allowed to park anywhere in those restricted areas.
Frazier said it’s not his intention to “catch” people, nor does he approach his parking enforcement responsibility as a game.
“Timed parking is only 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., and I come through once a day — and not even every day,” he says. “And I don’t get out a tape measure to see which vehicles are seven feet high. But when it comes to motor homes and RVs, I feel an obligation to store owners to keep those vehicles from blocking their storefronts.”
None of this is to say there isn’t parking in Old Town for employees or residents if they know where to find it. For example, the city leases the parking area at the old Lotus Restaurant at the far west end of Bay Street, where as many as 60 spaces are available for parking at no cost and without a time limit. Parking is also available all day for free at the Port of Siuslaw parking lot. However, there is no overnight parking in either location.
“We realize it means employees or residents without their own parking may need to walk a block or two, but they can park there all day,” said Frazier.
For those with a handicapped parking placard, the law not only allows owners of those vehicles to park anywhere marked for the handicapped, but they are also not subject to time restrictions.
“But it has to be prominently displayed,” said Frazier. “Just having one isn’t enough. I need to be able to see it on the dashboard or in the back window.”
There are also some restrictions beyond the Old Town area that some drivers may not be aware of, such as not parking, stopping or leaving a vehicle running in a bicycle lane, which are defined as part of the highway, adjacent to the roadway, designated by official signs or markings for use by persons riding a bicycle.
Parking in violation of a bicycle lane is a Class D offense with a fine of $142. In addition, parking in the wrong direction on the street is also prohibited anywhere, with a fine of $110.
In the end, Frazier sees his parking restriction enforcement duties as something not everyone likes or appreciates, but that are necessary to keep the Old Town District and its businesses accessible to visitors and residents alike.
“We are a beautiful community and a great place to be, and I’m absolutely thrilled with the amount of business on Bay Street,” Frazier says. “Just be aware that it’s that time of year that I’m out there doing my job.”
For more information on parking restrictions or city codes, contact Frazier at 541-997-3515 or visit ci.florence.or.us.