Haddonfield commissioners are considering scrapping overnight parking regulations in the borough.
The hours it takes to enforce a ban on overnight parking might not be worth the effort, officials said recently. Current regulations require cars to be off most borough streets from 2 to 5 a.m. Residents who don’t have off-street parking or have too many vehicles to fit into driveways must apply for a paid permit for up to two vehicles per household.
All residents can call a county-run phone system to request overnight-street parking for themselves or guests seven nights a month. Police Chief John Banning said last week that officers working overnight must call the phone system and write down each request after 2 a.m., a task that usually takes the better part of an hour.
Once the information is recorded, officers then have about two hours to patrol the 2.5-square miles of Haddonfield to determine who is legally parked on the street and issue tickets to whoever is not.
The borough has issued 144 parking permits this year. It would lose up to $17,000 in revenue from tickets and permits yearly if the regulations were repealed. Haddonfield only receives $6.50 out of the $18 parking fine. The remainder is distributed to state-mandated funds, such as for body-armor replacement and autism. It collected $8,400 from permit fees.
Commissioner Ed Borden, one of three borough commissioners, oversees the police department as the director of public safety. He presented the issues of overnight parking last week to begin a public discussion of whether to keep current rules in place or to scrap them.
“The issues around overnight parking are thee single largest area of friction between our police and citizens,” Borden said. “There’s a constant series of people who are unhappy about tickets or can’t get permits to park overnight. The amount of time devoted to enforcement and issues related to overnight parking is very substantial.”
Borden said more time could be devoted to patrolling the borough if officers weren’t tied up with overnight-parking enforcement.
Commissioner Tish Colombi, the mayor, said she was not in favor of scraping overnight-parking restrictions.
“I would suggest you drive through Audubon, or one of the towns that allows parking all the time, and just the look of it is very different than what we see on the street here,” she said.
Colombi also said not having cars on the street could help police spot vehicles of individuals who may be committing a crime. Chief John Banning said police were able to arrest someone like that about 10 years ago, but that many recent burglaries in Haddonfield were being committed during the day. He said commercial burglaries often happen at night.
Seven people, including a fourth-grader completing a school assignment and her mother, attended the commissioner’s meeting Thursday during this discussion. Most who spoke were in favor of getting rid of overnight-parking regulations.
“I live on Lee Avenue, which is probably one of the smallest streets in Haddonfield,” said Art Bermudez, a resident. “Most of the houses have one-car driveways. Those of us who have families have two cars. I’m concerned that because of a look, we are getting penalized for it.”
Michelle Claffey, a resident of Windsor Avenue, said she sees both sides of the issue.
“I like having my street clear of cars at night,” she said. “But I don’t feel like ticket enforcement is universal throughout town. I see neighbors who park on my street all the time and they don’t get tickets. I can see both sides of the issue.”
Debate on what to do about overnight parking will continue at the next commissioners meeting on April 24, officials said.