ST. PETERSBURG — It's getting more expensive to make a mistake on city streets.
The City Council is set to approve a $5 increase for illegal parking in two public hearings scheduled for Thursday and Nov. 21.
If approved, most illegal parking fines would increase from $25 to $30. These tickets don't include overtime parking, where meters expire or cars stay too long in two-hour street spaces. The city has already increased meter rates from 75 cents to $1. Beginning Saturday, city officials will begin fining motorists $158 if they are captured on camera running through red lights.
"Illegal parking" is a grab bag of violations, including:
• No parking in alley
• No parking this side of block
• Fire hydrant
• No parking any time
• No parking 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
• No parking between signs
• Parking on sidewalk
• Parking on crosswalk
• Blocking driveway
• Taking up two spaces
• Too far from curb
• Two vehicles in one space
• Leaving keys in ignition (even if engine is off)
• Commercial vehicles only
• Residential parking only
• No parking loading zone
In all, the city writes about 10,000 of these tickets every year. The fines are projected to bring in an extra $50,000 a year. The increased meter rates are expected to bring in about $313,000 more, and the red-light cameras are expected to haul in about $900,000.
But it's not all about the money, said Evan Mory, the city's parking manager.
"Most infractions are for safety violations, which endanger pedestrian and motorist safety," Mory told council members during a workshop Thursday. "Increased fines will increase compliance with regulations, which will make downtown and neighborhood streets safer."
Illegal parking rates haven't been increased since 1998. The new rates keep St. Petersburg in line with most other cities, which charge between $30 and $40 for the same infractions, Mory said. Plus, they add teeth to new fines motorists will get if they park on sidewalks, which council members recently decided to make a violation that could result in a fine.
Council members didn't object to the increase, suggesting that the rates will gain easy passage in November.
"When you look at what our fines are, for different violations, we're staying within the range of other municipalities," council Chairman Jim Kennedy said.