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Durham Prepares to Give Unpaid Parking Tickets The 'Boot'

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DURHAM — Unpaid parking tickets are piling up inDurham, and it is a problem that is costing all taxpayers.

Cities and towns all over the Triangle use parking tickets as a source of revenue, and Durham is no exception. The problem in the Bull City is that many parking violators are simply ignoring the tickets.

Ronnie Blevins went to Durham to get a business license. He parked in a 20 minute zone, and after 26 minutes he got a ticket.

"Basically, you go in and you try to conduct your business that you're supposed to conduct, and then they have this time limit and then you get stuck," Blevins said.

Blevins is one of 23,000 people who have been stuck by Durham's Community Services Unit. The special patrol started last July, armed with orders to aggressively enforce parking laws.

Almost 70 percent of the tickets the patrol issues go unpaid, which is about 16,000 of them. At $10 a ticket, the city is losing at least $160,000.

"We're looking at ways to put a little teeth into the program and one of those is getting the boot system back in place," says Chuck Pettiford, the Community Services manager.

The city has not used the boot, the device that immobilizes violators' cars, since someone filed a lawsuit over it. Now, most drivers are just on their honor to pay up.

"Frankly this is not brain surgery," says Bill Kalkoff, executive director ofDowntown Durham Incorporated. He supports the parking enforcement effort. However, he thinks making parking easier will help Durham, Durham businesses, and the parking patrol.

"Have all parking spaces in downtown be one hour in length," Kalkoff said. "Most downtown business, about 80 percent, is conducted in an hour."

While the city gets upset when parking ticket revenue goes uncollected, business owners get upset if their customers get ticketed too quickly. It is going to be tough battle to reach a happy medium.

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Mark Roberts, Reporter
Adrienne Traxinger, Photographer
Jason Darwin, Web Editor

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