Lesser known Denver ordinance results in ticket for driver who moved her car across the street

DENVER - An obscure Denver parking ordinance continues to cost drivers $25.

Parking in a timed-area, such as a two-hour parking zone, requires drivers to move their cars more than 100 feet if they want to stay in the same area for another two hours. Parking on the opposite side of the street can still result in a ticket, if the car hasn't been moved more than 100 feet.

"The signs tell you that you can park there between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. for a two-hour time period and there is absolutely no text on the sign that says you have to move it a certain distance," said ticketed driver Lauren Molina. "If the ordinance is in place for whatever reason, then it needs to be placed on the sign, if they're going to ticket it."

Molina is familiar with the two-hour parking dance. She works near Rose Medical Center and the Veterans Affairs Clinic, where non-metered parking is at a premium. She said she has previously been ticketed for parking beyond the allowed time limit, but never ticketed for moving her car, until last month.

"I got a ticket for not moving my car 100 feet -- more than 100 feet -- even though it was on the opposite side of the street," said Molina.

In November, 7NEWS exposed viewers to this little known ordinance. At that time, we profiled a driver who parked at 9 a.m., went to yoga, came back and parked in the same spot at 1 p.m., but was ticketed for parking beyond the two-hour limit. Once two hours have passed, city ordinance requires drivers to move their car more than 100 feet, which is about five car-lengths or two-and-a-half homes.

The enforcement officer who ticketed that driver never knew he had left for a yoga class, the officer only knew that he saw the vehicle at 9 a.m. and then again after 1 p.m.

"Where are you ever supposed to learn about this ordinance?" asked 7NEWS reporter Marshall Zelinger.

"Luckily all those ordinances are on our website," said Denver Public Works spokeswoman Emily Williams. "We do have some changes coming in Denver Public Works to help bring to light some of these lesser known ordinances."

Williams said the department is still figuring out how to better provide parking education to get the word out about this ordinance.

"Why isn't this ordinance on a sign?" asked Zelinger.

"I think it's because there are so many signs out there. There's a fine line between having just the right amount of signs that people are paying attention to and having too many when people start ignoring all of those signs," said Williams.

"Is it fair to ticket someone for something that you didn't learn about in driver's education and there are no signs about?" asked Zelinger.

"Unfortunately, there are many ordinances, whether they're parking ordinances or traffic ordinances, that you might not learn about in driver's ed," said Williams. "Unfortunately, right now, our only tool for education when you break this ordinance is a citation, but hopefully that will be changing soon."

"I don't like the intent of the ordinance. I think, frankly, it's poorly written," said Denver City Councilman Charlie Brown. "The fact that they move across the street, they shouldn't get a ticket for that."

Brown said he wants to modify the ordinance, which he found confusing.

"The 100-foot limit should not include across the street and I think that's what needs to be changed," said Brown. "I read the ordinance and it took three or four readings to try to understand it. Even someone in Public Works admitted that the ordinance was confusing. They want to change it as well as I do."

With photographs in hand, Molina went in front of a magistrate to contest her parking ticket last month. She still had to pay.

"Because I had tried to move my car in good faith, he was going to go ahead and discount me $5," said Molina. "If they are not going to place it on the sign, then the ordinance needs to be removed."

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