Maneuvering a vehicle along the main streets of downtown South Haven can be tricky, especially during the summer months.
In recent years, with more and more consumers purchasing long pickup trucks and SUVs, driving along Phoenix and Center streets has become more tedious.
“City staff receive many complaints about vehicles overrunning downtown parking lines, particularly on Center Street during the summer months,” Deputy City Manager Griffin Graham said. “To my knowledge, no tickets have been issued for this type of parking violation in the past, and there have been no accidents related to this.”
Nearly five years ago, the South Haven City Council updated the city’s parking ordinance to prevent long vehicles from parking in inclined downtown parking spots, due to a growing number of safety complaints from motorists and pedestrians trying to cross Phoenix and Center streets.
However, the ordinance has been difficult to enforce due to the short parking times for vehicles in front of downtown businesses. With social distancing restrictions lifted, the city now wants to start implementing the parking ordinance.
But before issuing tickets, the city first wants to inform motorists of the ordinance that limits the length of vehicles for corner parking spaces.
“We are working on installing educational signs,” Public Works Department Director Bill Hunter said.
The signs, which consist of red letters on a red frame and white background, will read: “No parking beyond the length of the stall. Violators will be towed. In addition to the possibility of a vehicle being towed, violators of angled parking lengths would also be subject to an initial fine of $20. If not paid within seven days, the fine will be increased to $40, and $60 if not paid within 60 days.
“The intent is to educate the public about the existing ordinance that requires vehicles to park in designated parking spaces,” Hunter said.
In addition to signage, the city also plans to paint additional strips at the ends of parking spaces to indicate vehicle length limits. If the vehicle extends beyond the hash mark, motorists will need to find a different location for their truck or SUV.
Signs and painted hash marks should be in place later this spring, Hunter said.
“Right now it’s too cold to paint,” he said. “We may be able to do it mid-May, depending on the weather.”
Motorists with long vehicles have other downtown parking options. The city has parallel parking spots on side streets downtown where longer vehicles can park, as well as several public parking lots accessible from Phoenix, Huron, and Quaker streets.