By Olivia Anderson | [email protected]
Alexandria is cracking down on heavy vehicles that park illegally on public streets by imposing a new ordinance that raises fines on offenders.
City Council voted on Saturday to increase fines on vehicles more than 12,000 pounds or 30 feet long that park for more than two hours on public streets adjacent to commercial business areas. Fines will now be $100 for the first violation, $250 for the second violation and $350 for the third violation. Any subsequent violation will result in an immobilization boot.
“Notwithstanding any other section of the City Code, referenced or otherwise, penalties of this section may escalate and ultimately may include immobilization or removal whether or not the previous penalty fines have been paid,” the new ordinance reads.
The approval follows months of resident complaints, after a March 2021 amendment to add a new infraction category failed to stop heavy vehicle parking.
During public comment resident Mindy Lyle expressed frustration about recent heavy vehicle parking in the West End, specifically on Pickett Street.
“This morning there were 29 trucks, including trailers not attached to a cab and cabs not attached to a trailer. There was not a single ticket,” Lyle said. “Before you say this is the weekend and the weather is awful, just know that one truck has been in the same spot for three weeks, four others for at least two weeks, a food truck for over a month and a trailer for at least a month. … Just think of the time it would take to get these trucks moved in the event of a fire.”
Councilor Sarah Bagley suggested during council discussion the possibility of putting up temporary signage while the city is waiting for permanent signage to arrive.
“Since we are so keen to aggressively deploy, potentially have [the updates] in our parking enforcement’s software as of Monday, [is] there an interim flyer, interim cardboard production? … I wouldn’t want the delay of the aggressive enforcement to be because there’s a six-week backlog on signage,” Bagley said.
Alex Block, a planner with the Department of Transportation and Environmental Services, said that the city posted temporary signage in high traffic areas when it first adopted the ordinance. Staff has proposed placing additional signs “to make sure that the trucks are well aware of the increased fines,” he said. There will also be announcements on social media.
According to City Manager James Parajon, the policy will go into effect as soon as possible.
“I think it’s very clear what the intent of the council is and we’ll act as fast as we can to aggressively pursue that illegal activity,” Parajon said.
“I don’t want to see this wait a month for us to implement. I know we have the ability to do it right away so whatever communications need to go out, let’s make sure we get those out quickly,” Councilor Alyia Gaskins said. “… I hope we’re doing this to the full extent of the ordinance. If we have the capacity to boot and tow, let’s make sure that we’re doing that.”
Vice Mayor Amy Jackson made a motion to approve the policy change, with a second from Councilor John Chapman. The motion passed unanimously, 7-0.