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Cars are parked in a two-hour zone along East 17th Street on Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2019, in downtown Cheyenne. Parking enforcement has increased since the Cheyenne Police Department took over parking duties in January 2018. Michael Cummo/Wyoming Tribune Eagle

CHEYENNE – Some changes are coming to Cheyenne’s parking ordinances, and the hope is they will create a manageable parking program that can “address chronic abuses and loopholes within the system.”

The amendments to the parking ordinance have been in the works for two years.

“I believe this has been my most important project,” Cheyenne Police Department Parking Administration Manager Ted Miazga said Wednesday at the City Council’s Public Services Committee meeting.

If the full council approves the amendments to the ordinance, food trucks and downtown residents will have more options for regular parking, construction workers can receive parking permits while working downtown, and parking tickets would become a civil offense instead of criminal.

The changes to the ordinance came from collaboration with groups like the Mayor’s Council for People with Disabilities, the Cheyenne Downtown Development Authority and Visit Cheyenne.

According to Miazga, the change from a criminal to a civil offense is the “most important.”

Instead of disputing tickets in municipal court, residents would deal with a parking administration manager. That person would take over responsibilities that are currently handled by the city clerk’s office and the municipal court.

With civil offenses, any unpaid bills can also be sent to collections, which currently is not the case.

“As of 11:45 this morning, there is currently 1,591 unpaid parking tickets that are in the system,” Miazga said.

The change would give police more power to collect fines. To encourage more people to pay their tickets, a $10 discount will also be given to those who pay within two days of receiving the citation.

While most parking tickets will become civil offenses, the criminal charge will remain for those who park in wheelchair accessible parking spots without a permit. Changes to accessible parking ordinances are currently in the works, and will be addressed in a different amendment, but Patti Riesland, Mayor’s Council for People with Disabilities chairwoman, said they are considering increasing the cost of those tickets.

With an increase in the popularity of food trucks, the amendments also address parking for mobile businesses.

Right now, food trucks have no way around the two-hour parking limit downtown. The amendment allows those who own food trucks to apply for a permit that will let them exceed the two-hour limit, and such permits will be issued at $60 per month. In addition, residents who live downtown will be able to apply for a permit to exceed the two-hour parking limit, which will also cost $60 per month. Currently, they can either park in a city garage or eat the cost of a ticket.

“Downtown residents, they just don’t have a choice,” Miazga said.

Another issue the amendment will address has to do with construction. When large-scale, long projects occur downtown, it affects the number of parking spots, which is a concern that has been voiced by a number of downtown business owners. By adding a new permit for construction workers that exempts them from the two-hour limit, Miazga said they will be able to regulate how many permits are given and in what location.

The ordinance is likely to be postponed at Monday’s City Council meeting per the recommendation of the Public Services Committee. Councilman Dicky Shanor brought forward a motion to postpone due to a few details in the ordinance. The administrative fees listed in the ordinance have no limit, and certain language would allow the police department to revoke a permit “for any reason.”

He said these problems can be addressed before the ordinance is passed.

“I’m confident we’ll work toward a solution,” Shanor said.

Margaret Austin is the Wyoming Tribune Eagle’s local government reporter. She can be reached at maustin@wyomingnews.com or 307-633-3152. Follow her on Twitter at @MargaretMAustin.

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