Complaints about cars that chronically double park and fail to feed parking meters have city officials promising to look at the depth of the problem and take action across Easton's Downtown.
Double parking by private vehicles while running in and out of a store is illegal, but since the infraction happens quickly, it's rarity when the drivers of those vehicles are caught and ticketed, officials noted.
Ordinances don't prohibit double parking for delivery vehicles, Easton Police Chief Carl Scalzo said at Tuesday's City Council Conference.
Craft gallery Connexions manager Anthony Marraccini said illegal parking is a particular problem near the corner of Second and Northampton streets, across from Connexions. He added that he believes people getting away with it leads to other neighborhood problems, including pan handling, public urination, vandalism, prostitution and drug dealing.
“It's more of a quality of life issue,” Marraccini said. “These quality of life issues devolve until people think they can do whatever they want ... Panhandling and litter devolves into prostitution issues.”
The type of businesses his neighbors run has a lot to do with the problem, he added.
“I have three convenience stores across the street from me,” Marraccini said. “The one store is open 12 hours a day.”
He said targeted ticketing would discourage other illegal activities he sees the three shops' customers engage in.
“The base is the parking issue. You can harass them without really harassing them,” he said.
City officials seemed most concerned about potential safety issues illegal parking in the area might pose, with police promising to make detailed observations over a few days to get a better idea of the exact issue. They also promised to look at other areas in the Downtown that have received similar complaints.
“I think maybe if we can figure out what their peak periods are, maybe we can provide additional oversight,” city administrator Glenn Steckman said. “It happens all over the place.”
City officials also promised to send out letters to area merchants in advance of any such program, encouraging them to spread the word to their customers to park legally.
“We'll tell them we don't want to see your customers get tickets and get them to help,” Steckman said. “The shop owners have some responsibility too.”
Scalzo said despite the plan, it will probably take some time to solve the problem permanently, due to the transient nature of shop customers.
“I think this is going to have to be a prolonged approach,” Scalzo said. “There's probably a lot we can and should do, but it's going to take time.”
Despite the extra enforcement, solving the problem seems a higher priority than punish customers, as they also contemplated changes that would make it harder to park illegally by accident.
Better signage and pavement markings, along with the installation of 15-minute meters to ensure ready parking for spots that see constant in-and-out traffic were also discussed as likely solutions.
To address Marraccini's other complaints, Scalzo encouraged him to consistently report any illegal activity he sees.
“I would say never be afraid to use the non-emergency number to report that,” he told Marraccini. “Don't ever think you're being a pain because we need to know when there's a problem.”