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The University Star

The Student News Site of Texas State University

The University Star

The Student News Site of Texas State University

The University Star

City parking fines increase in SMTX

Shreyani Puligal

Effective April 19, San Marcos parking fines have more than doubled for the first time since 2003.

According to City Marshal’s Parking Coordinator Samantha Deyo, parking fines increased due to city-wide problems, such as non-compliance with downtown parking rules.

Deyo said effective April 19, level one violations increased from $20 to $50, level two violations increased from $30 to $100 and level three violations increased from $50 to $250. Level four violations comply with the state standard, so the fine fee remains $500, according to Deyo.

Deyo said the Parking Advisory Board studied parking fines from nearby cities compared to San Marcos, and San Marcos’ parking violation rates were the lowest of surrounding cities such as New Braunfels, Fredericksburg and Austin.

“There’s generally over-utilization of downtown street parking that’s in excess of posted time limits,” Deyo said.

According to the resolution the Parking Advisory Board presented to the city council on June 6, 2023, the board “expects the increase in realized consequences for violating the city’s parking regulations to result in increased compliance and orderly management of the city’s limited public parking resources.”

According to the San Marcos City Code of Ordinances, level one violations include parking overtime, parking within 20 feet of a crosswalk, parking on the wrong side of the street or parking a non-electrical vehicle in an electric vehicle space without any charging.

Level two violations include double parking, parking across striped stall lines, parking in intersections, parking in a lane in traffic or backing into a designated pull-in spot.

Level three violations include parking in a fire zone, within 15 feet of a fire hydrant or in a bicycle lane.

Level four violations concern disabled parking and fall under state jurisdiction.

Deyo said residents with three or more unpaid parking citations could receive a notice on their windshield to contact the municipal court or pay their fines. Their car could be booted if the fine is not paid or the resident does not contact the court within 10 days.

“If you get a citation, don’t ignore it, get with the court and they can find a way to help out most of the time,” Deyo said.

According to Deyo, the city also implemented changes to help residents pay their fines. Level one fines will be reduced by 50% if it’s the first fine in twelve months and paid within 14 days. Late fees will be applied after 30 days compared to the previous 15-day timeframe.

At its June 6, 2023 meeting, San Marcos City Council discussed increasing parking fines after a recommendation from the Parking Advisory Board the previous year. Mayor Jane Hughson supported the idea, citing the inflation of the cost of living since the last increase in parking fines in 2003.

“These are self-inflicted wounds. You can avoid this raise by not getting a parking ticket,” Hughson said at the meeting. “This isn’t a tax that people have to pay.”

San Marcos City Council approved the increase in a 7-1 vote with Councilmember Alyssa Garza voting against it at the Jan. 30, 2024 meeting.

Nicolette Ecoff, an English junior and San Marcos resident said adding more easy-to-access parking would make a greater difference in complying with violations compared to raising parking fines.

“A lot of people let [parking fines] build up and never [pay] them back,” Ecoff said. “The only thing that will make a difference is adding better parking.”

In a statement sent via email to The University Star, Associate Director of Parking Services at Texas State Stephen Prentice wrote the university’s parking fees will not increase due to the increase in the city and the Transportation Services Department was not aware of a rate change.

“Texas State has no plans to change permit or ticket fees because of any action the city may take,” Prentice wrote.

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