Salt Lake making changes after parking meters found not in compliance with city codes

Posted at 10:44 PM, Jul 15, 2014
and last updated 2014-07-16 16:44:21-04

SALT LAKE CITY -- At the height of rush hour in downtown Salt Lake City, it can be hard to find parking, and for some, it's even harder to pay once you do.

“My cards are rejected a lot lately, and they just don’t work a lot of the time,” Ryan Fedor said, who works downtown.

In 2011-12, the city replaced its old parking meters with new kiosks, which allowed drivers to pay with coins, a credit card or even their phone.

Now many argue they’re not as user-friendly as they appear.

“They get too hot and they don’t work,” Peter Marshall said, owner of Utah Book and Magazine on Main St.

It’s those kinds of complaints from the public that Salt Lake City could be paying for in the future, according to attorney Bruce Baird.

“Big bureaucracies make mistakes,” Baird said. “This mistake is going to wind up costing the city millions and millions of dollars.”

Last month, Baird filed a lawsuit against the city, arguing their parking codes don’t apply to the new kiosks they put in a couple years ago.

Now, he’s adding plaintiffs in an amended complaint and seeking to have it certified as a class action suit, in order to recoup fees for not only parking tickets, but all money paid.

“It could be $5-6 million a year because there’s no legal basis for the city to be collecting the base revenue from the meters either,” Baird said. “So, the amended complaint will seek to get the base revenue, as well.”

His argument is based on current city code, which only reflects the old parking meters that were on the streets before the kiosks.

In 2012, the city’s Community and Economic Development Office sent a notice to the council, recommending they update and amend their parking ordinances but for some reason, it wasn't done.

“We’re still investigating why that didn't occur, and so, I think what our objective is now is to move forward and get it taken care of,” Salt Lake City council chair Charlie Luke said.

Tuesday night the council voted to update the city’s parking codes during its formal meeting.

“We just want to take care of it as quickly as possible, which is why it’s on the agenda for tonight,” Luke said.

However, while that solves one problem, Baird said he believes it’s only the beginning of many more for the city and its parking.

“Obviously, the city is fixing the ordinance tonight, a day late and about $10 million short,” Baird said.