People protest parking ban in Niles - WFMJ.com News weather sports for Youngstown-Warren Ohio

People protest parking ban in Niles

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NILES, Ohio -

In Niles 61 people who parked their cars on the street were given tickets to pay a fine, due to an overnight parking ban some didn't know exists. Many municipalities in the valley have parking bans which have different parameters, but they tell WFMJ news they have signs that explain what is illegal. In Niles that is not the case.

Caitlyn Cowger attended Niles prom on Friday, May 10th.  Her dad Chad Cowger said, "She stayed with friends and parked the car she borrowed so they would not be on the road when others might be impaired. She parked the vehicle facing in the right direction at the curb, not near a fire hydrant, or stop sign as she had been taught. She was surprised when she went to her vehicle to go home the next day and found a citation for illegal parking overnight."

A city ordinance in Niles states that it is illegal to park cars on the street from 2 a.m. to 6 a.m.  Chad Cowger said, "I think it's unlawful. There are no signs through this whole area, you look down this road, down that way, this way here there are no signs that state they are not allowed to park here." 

Niles municipal ordinances and parking ban require multiple steps to find on the city's webpage. But Niles Mayor told WFMJ the ordinance and permit application can easily be found on the Niles police department webpage. Steve Mientkiewicz said, "Technology is the way the world works and we are trying to keep our people informed and educated on the laws of the city of Niles through the city website and some other initiatives we are putting in place.  City council passed the law in 2014 and it has been enforced since then. This is nothing new."  

But no one in the city could point out a location of one sign in the city which states it is illegal to park between two in the morning until six in the morning without a permit. The Niles Fire Chief told WFMJ news it is important to keep streets clear since a fire truck is over 8 feet wide and ambulances are about that wide, so in an emergency when seconds count first responders must be able to respond with help as fast as possible.

Caitlyn's dad Chad Cowger said, " I understand that, but if it is illegal it should be posted. Who goes to another city and looks at their ordinance before they park at another person's residence overnight. I don't." Other critics say an online law harms the poor and elderly who can not afford computers. 
The mayor says adding signs is a possibility.  Steve Mientkiewicz's relative also received a ticket for parking on the road overnight on the same date that 60 others received tickets. The mayor told us that this shows the law is being enforced evenly across the city and no one is being targeted. Others say it shows too many people even the mayor's relative don't know about the online law, nor the process to get a permit from police.   

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