Little known parking ordinance could get you a $25 ticket even if you haven't exceeded time limits

DENVER - Parking in a two-hour zone should be self-explanatory, but when Wilson Leonard found a ticket on his vehicle, he learned about an ordinance that most drivers in Denver probably don't know about.

"I was parked around noon and then I went to a yoga class, and then came back an hour-and-a-half later, got to my car, parked it again near the same spot. I got a parking ticket for being in the same spot over those three hours, even though I was there, I left and then I came back," said Leonard.

Leonard was parked on Pennsylvania Street near Arkansas Avenue, just two blocks away from Sushi Den. The city of Denver right-of-way enforcement marked his vehicle at noon on Tuesday. Leonard said he left to go to yoga and then parked in just about the same spot when he returned just prior to 3 p.m., when his vehicle was seen again.

"You cannot park in the same spot, within 100 feet of that spot, in a 24-hour period," said Denver right-of-way enforcement agent Gary Glasser.

"Whether you're in that spot for one minute or two hours, once you leave, you're really not supposed to come back?" asked 7NEWS reporter Marshall Zelinger.

"If you're time marked, yes. If it's a two-hour zone, definitely," said Glasser. "These are the same complicated questions that we ask ourselves when we're enforcing, 'Where's this car at? How far did it move? Did it really move enough?'"

When you look at a parking sign, whether it's one-hour parking or two-hour parking, there is no notation that you're only allowed in the same spot once for that time limit in a 24-hour period.

"Am I missing a sign that says something like that?" asked Zelinger.

"No," said Glasser.

"Two hours in a 24-hour period is not on the sign, how am I supposed to know that?" asked Zelinger.

"Again, one of those things, if you park in any city in any state, you are assuming responsibility to knowing the rules and regulations of that city," said Glasser. "If that vehicle is there, regardless of [if] you went to whatever business and came back -- if it's there at that address, within 100 feet of that address, it's a violation."

Moving your vehicle to the opposite side of the street won't necessarily keep you from getting ticketed.

"If you park here and your two hours is up and I want to park on that side of the street, which is also two-hour parking. Why is that not OK?" asked Zelinger.

"Because it's not 100 feet," said Glasser.

7NEWS rode-along with Glasser as he monitored two-hour street parking. He even warned a driver about the 100-foot rule instead of ticketing him.

"I would like him to move at least a couple of houses down," said Glasser. "At this point, it's a discretion that I would say he made a good attempt to move the vehicle toward the end of the block."

"Do you think people know that they're only allowed one time in 24 hours?" asked Zelinger.

"Probably not," said Glasser.

"Where do we learn that?" asked Zelinger.

"That's a good question.," said Glasser.

It took some searching, but 7NEWS found the ordinances on the city's website. Though, reading them doesn't necessarily clear up confusion.

54-482 (a) "At any place within the city where authorized signs are posted pursuant to the provisions of this chapter giving notice of parking limitations, regulations, restrictions or prohibitions, it shall be unlawful for any person to park a vehicle in any manner in violation of, or contrary to, the provisions contained on such signs except when necessary to avoid conflict with other traffic, or in compliance with the directions of a police officer, or traffic-control signal, sign or device, or except momentarily for the purpose of loading or unloading passengers when such parking does not obstruct, impede or endanger any traffic; except as otherwise provided in this article."

54-420 "Where any section of this article, or any sign posted pursuant to the provisions of this chapter, prohibits parking in excess of any stated period of time in any given parking space or other designated area, a vehicle shall be considered in violation of that restriction if it has not been moved at least one hundred (100) feet from that parking space or designated area during the stated period of time or if the vehicle is moved to within one hundred (100) feet of that parking space or designated area within twenty-four (24) hours."

This also applies to meters. You're not allowed to stay at a meter after the maximum time limit is up, but you're also supposed to move your vehicle to another parking spot more than 100 feet away.

"Whatever the limit is on the meter, then you have to move 100 feet, in a 24-hour period," said Glasser.

54-514 (b) "It shall be unlawful for any person to use a parking metered space or multi-space section in excess of the time limit indicated by the sign accompanying the parking meter."

Enforcement agents consider 100 feet to be about five car lengths or just more than two homes.

"What (the agent) suggested is that I park in front of my house, then I go run errands, then I park at the other end of the block, and then I go do errands and then I come back to my house again and I guess I do this all day long in kind of a shifting-like fashion so that I don't get tickets every day," said Leonard.

"You had no idea that you're only allowed two hours in a day, even if you leave and come back?" asked Zelinger.

"No, no. I had no idea until today," said Leonard. "It's kind of a strange ordinance, but I assume it is what it is."

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