Jax Daily Record serves as Mouthpiece of Downtown Parking Lot OwnersApril 9, 2007 5 comments Print Article
The Jacksonville Daily Record is taking the position of legal advisor and advocate for downtown blight and the destruction of historic structures.
They recently published an article (http://www.jaxdailyrecord.com/showstory.php?Story_id=47132) in response to MetroJacksonville.com raising questions (http://www.metrojacksonville.com/content/view/368/) with regard to the legality of the practices employed by downtown's private surface parking lot owners.
In the course of their article, the Daily Record unknowingly damaged their case by printing a city ordinance dealing with unauthorized persons on parking a lot."
According to Sec. 614.142.1 of the Jacksonville Municipal Code, It shall be unlawful and an offense for any person to willfully enter or remain on any property which is used primarily as a parking lot for motor vehicles unless such person is authorized, licensed or invited; provided such property is prominently marked by a posted notice, which is easily seen from a distance of 50 feet, restricting use of or access to the parking lot.
The code allows "a fine of not more than $25 or by imprisonment of not more than 10 days or by community service of not less than 50 hours; and for a second or subsequent offense, by a fine of not more than $500 or by imprisonment of not less than 15 days nor more than 90 days or by community service of not less than 500 hours."
This means that the city is solely authorized to ticket cars parked on private lots at the request of the lot owner. This statute does not confer the private lot owners the authority to issue their own $25 tickets.
Sec. 636.102 of the municipal code states that ticketing is the exclusive right of the Jacksonville Sheriffs Office, the Disabled Services Division and the Jacksonville International Airport. Private parking lots owners are not sanctioned to issue tickets. Even if private lot owners made their way onto that list, the revenue generated from the tickets would need to be directed to the tax collectors office, not their own private bank accounts.
We are not suggesting that private lots are immoral for attempting to make money, nor do we condone parking cars on private lots for free. What we are suggesting is that private lot owners obey the law. More specifically, the regulations dealing with signage, proper upkeep of property, and avoiding the use of tactics that are deliberately misleading to the consumer.
Issuing look-a-like tickets on land that is specifically cited by the Jacksonville Municipal Code to be under the ticketing jurisdiction of the city, is illegal. Issuing look alike tickets in a deliberate attempt to deceive the public may also have legal problems.
It is interesting that the Jacksonville Daily Record made an attempt at re-instilling fear in downtown parkers. After threatening fines and imprisonment, they then asserted that private property owners can do as they please, with complete disregard for the law, in order to make money through misleading and deceptive practices..
Most surface parking lots have nothing more than a small pay station tucked away in a corner, away from any entrance or exit.
Several lots actually do have a sign posted stating that cars will be ticketed, booted, and towed. Unfortunately, in order to be enforced, Jacksonville municipal code states the sign must be readable from a distance of 50 feet. The bottom line of this sign has text that is barely one inch tall.
Here is that same sign from a motorists perspective.
This sign states that cars will be towed. Although most people do not appreciate their car being towed, it is within a lot owners right to have a vehicle removed from their property. Central Parking regularly tickets cars on their lots, but this sign mysteriously does not mention anything about it.
These city blocks have been flattened to make way for surface parking lots. Several buildings were taken down in this area just within the past two years.
Although there are several entrances to this parking lot, there is only one sign posted. Can you spot it?
With the help of a telephoto lens, this sign becomes visible, but not readable.
Is this a parking lot? In fact, it is. The sign is clearly displayed on the left side of the photo. Nevermind that the backside is facing this entrance.
This parking lot, like many others, is actually the foundation of a demolished building. Attempting to generate revenue from completely unimproved and unmaintained property is standard operating procedure of surface parking lot owners.
Highly profitable surface parking lots promote the destruction of historic buildings and contribute to blight that so many people are working so hard to combat. This is a very serious problem that has faced many American cities over the past several decades. Downtown surface parking lot owners should not be allowed to skirt the law in order increase profitability.