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City approves parking fine increases


Parking too long in a favorite Sonora slot now costs more.

Sonora City Council members last night raised parking ticket fines for the first time since 1996.

Tickets for the most common violations — overtime parking and parking outside of marked spaces — jumped.

Starting today, the fine for overtime parking is up $10, to $20. The fine for parking out of a marked space is now $15. It was $8.

Fines for other violations also more than doubled in some cases (see accompanying chart).

Sonora officials have been discussing the increases for a week, after learning that the state will take a bigger chunk out of every city's parking revenue.

As of Jan. 1, the state demanded $1.50 more from each parking fine collected, on top of the $5 it already takes.

City Administrator Greg Applegate called the surcharge "an unfunded state mandate" and urged the council to take action last night, because the state is demanding the extra money immediately. The money will fund state court construction.

Last night's vote was not unanimous. Council members Ron Stearn and David Sheppard voted against the increases, saying they believed doubling the fine for overtime parking was too much.

"My feeling is you're shooting yourself in the foot," Stearn said, adding that he believes the $20 fine will keep people from coming downtown to do their shopping. Stearn worked at a downtown hardware store for 47 years and spent 20 years on the merchants association.

Stearn was willing to agree to a $5 hike, from $10 to $15, for overtime parking.

Sheppard agreed with Stearn, but wanted overtime parking to remain at $10. He also said he received two calls from constituents about the fine for cars parked out of marked spaces and suggested the fine for that violation remain the same.

Bass told fellow council members the Finance Committee — which proposed the increases — hoped to balance deterrence with covering the state's demands.

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