Tracy Police Department neighborhood resource officer Miguel Contreras said the department was approached about two months ago about the lack of enforcement of the 2-hour parking law.
The enforcement had lapsed in recent years. Parking in front of the Tracy Press, for example, has not been enforced strictly for several years.
Contreras did not know when official enforcement faded, but he said police have always enforced rules regarding handicap spaces and fire zones.
Warning notices began circulating through downtown on Monday, Oct. 1, alerting businesses and patrons that a stricter enforcement will begin soon, according to Contreras.
Some businesses depend on short-stay traffic, he said, and there was a concern that some cars parked all day in the same spot were taking up spaces for potential customers.
After walking through downtown, talking to merchants and meeting with business owners, the police department decided to enforce the time limit more strictly, Contreras said.
“We want to increase the traffic flow,” Contreras said.
The enforcement will go into effect in November, Contreras said, adding that it will be a time-consuming operation.
Volunteers in Police Service will mark tires and return to check how long vehicles have been parked downtown, and traffic interns will be responsible for issuing citations.
According to the Tracy police records department, a ticket for violating the two-hour limit will cost $37.
The zone to be enforced includes Central Avenue between 11th and Sixth streets, 10th Street between A and E streets and the two-hour zones on Seventh, Eighth and Ninth streets just off Central Avenue.
Main Street Music owner Ken Cefalo looked out the window of his 53 W. 10th St. shop on Wednesday and said he could usually spot at least one or two cars that are routinely left along 10th Street most of the day without moving.
“What sometimes is discouraging is to see cars parked all day long on the street,” Cefalo said.
Cefalo said he first noticed a problem about eight years ago, when there were more businesses and more people downtown. But he has recently seen the issue resurface.
“I would like parking spaces made readily available to the retail customers who go in and out all day long,” he said. “My employees are not allowed to park on the street — they park in the lot behind.”
Mike Trotter at Town & Country Café, 27 W. 10th St., said there are always parking problems, but he thinks enforcing the two-hour rule will help.
“My customers say it is real hard to find a place in downtown to park,” he said. “Between all the businesses and their employees, it can be real hard to find spaces — even the lots fill up early.”
Tracy City Center Association President Dino Margaros, the general manager of the Tracy Inn, said he saw the need for short-term parking in front of businesses.
“People who spend the money should be parking on the street,” Margaros said. “Basically, the street parking is not meant for all-day parking — it just hasn’t been strictly enforced.”
Margaros noted that a study of downtown parking a few years ago said there was enough parking available in the downtown area.
Margaros pointed out that there are eight free parking lots spread through downtown, including two at the Tracy Transit Center.
He said he wasn’t sure about the total number of spaces available in the lots, “but it had to be in the hundreds.”
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