Soft start promised for Chattanooga's new parking enforcement

Soft start promised for Chattanooga's new parking enforcement

October 22nd, 2012 by Cliff Hightower in News

Parking ambassador Gregory Alexander demonstrates new equipment that will be used to write tickets.

Photo by Angela Lewis /Times Free Press.


Fines under the new parking enforcement plan will remain the same. Citations will cost:

$11 If paid within 10 days

$42 between 11 and 30 days

$50 plus costs of processing: After 30 days

Source: Chattanooga

POLL: Have you received a parking ticket downtown in the last 30 days?

A new kind of parking enforcer will be out starting today, sweeping Chattanooga's downtown streets every hour.

Enforcers will be noticeable with their khaki pants and green polo shirts marked with a patch that says "Chattanooga Parking Authority."

Brent Matthews, director of parking for the Chattanooga Area Regional Transit Authority, said six to eight parking enforcers should be on the streets during the busiest parts of the day.

Officials have promised stricter enforcement as a result of the change of responsibility from Chattanooga police to CARTA, which has contracted with a private company, Republic Parking, to do the actual policing.

Tougher enforcement might not be a bad thing, said T.J. Greever, assistant general manager at Lupi's on Broad Street. He said that might increase turnover on the streets, allowing more customers to come into his business.

He said he doesn't see the new parking arrangements affecting his business, just those who park.

"I'll guarantee if you don't pay your meter, you'll get a ticket," Greever said. "Republic doesn't horse around."

But the crackdown isn't coming right away, Matthews said. Warning tickets will be issued over the next few weeks.

The idea is to try to get meter feeders off the streets and into lots so more visitors can use the spots, he said.

The parking authority also has set up a program to help those who work in the downtown hospitality industry. Anyone who works in that field can get a monthly parking pass for $15 to $20, depending upon location, he said.

And a hospitality van will operate from 10 p.m. to 4 a.m. to shuttle workers to their cars, he said.

The parking enforcers will not be in vehicles, but on foot, walking their assigned districts.

CARTA says they will serve dual roles - one as an ambassador handing out brochures, maps and information to tourists, the other as enforcer, handing out parking tickets to anyone whose meter has expired.

Enforcers will carry handheld computers to record license tags. On their belts will be small printers to print out citations.

The new parking program came after the City Council passed an ordinance this year giving enforcement authority to CARTA.

CARTA then established the Chattanooga Parking Authority, and Republic Parking won a bid to provide manpower for the program. CARTA will pay the parking management service $20,000 annually, plus operational costs for running the program.

The ambassadors have been in training for the last three weeks.

Caitlin Anderson and Emily Tudor, both employees at Sticky Fingers downtown, say they park close by.

"You have no place to park unless you park on the street or pay for one of the expensive Republic lots," Anderson said.

She admits she feeds the meter almost the entire time she works. After hearing about the monthly parking and free shuttle plan, she said she would be interested.

"That wouldn't be that bad then," she said.

Tudor said she parks her car at meters and has received her share of tickets. She also knows that the new parking arrangements will probably be harsher.

She said she has to arrange for other parking plans.

"I'll definitely have to change now," she said.

And don't forget: Motorists who accumulate three unpaid parking tickets could return to find that their car has been immobilized with a boot.

Contact staff writer Cliff Hightower at or 423-757-6480. Follow him at or