Chalking of tires to continue says city

  • Chalking of tires to continue says city
    Chalking of tires to continue says city

Downtown parkers be warned. Despite a recent judicial ruling, tire-chalking will continue in Dahlonega, according to city officials.
“We will use all tools at our disposal to keep the very limited number, nearly 400, of public parking spaces optimized,” said Mayor Sam Norton.
The Nugget recently approached city officials after a Sixth Circuit federal appeals court deemed the practice unconstitutional, ruling that it violates the Fourth Amendment which protects against “unreasonable searches and seizures.”
That decision created some confusion about the City of Dahlonega’s use of the practice.
But Norton was clear that the chalkings will continue in Dahlonega.
“The ruling is in the Sixth Circuit Court, but we are in the 11th Circuit Court and their findings are not binding in our district,” he said.
The case was brought against the city of Saginaw, Mich. by Alison Taylor, a Michigan woman who had received 15 parking citations in a few year period.
Taylor alleged in her lawsuit that the parking enforcement officer in Saginaw was a “prolific” chalker, according to court documents. Taylor argued that the practice of chalking her tires and then circling back to see if she had moved her car was unconstitutional.
A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit unanimously agreed with Taylor, stating that the practice was a form of trespass and required a warrant.
However, the ruling affects only those states within the Sixth Circuit, including Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee.
Dahlonega city attorney Doug Parks said he feels that the ruling is, “a bit of a stretch.” Parks went on to say that the ruling could receive a negative response from law enforcement.
“It seems a stretch to compare a parking civil offense with a felony or misdemeanor offense such as tracking vehicles used by alleged drug dealers,” said Parks.
With Dahlonega’s parking situation being one of the city’s biggest issues, Norton said the city will use every form of parking enforcement it can to help alleviate the problem.
 “Paid parking, three-hour parking, 15 minute parking and no parking areas are the categories to keep our parking situation as functional as possible,” he said. “It is important to consider that there are about 70 businesses in the downtown area with an estimated 200 employees as well as tourists, visitors, students, shoppers and citizens that must share these limited public spaces.”  
Norton credited the private sector for helping to alleviate some of the parking problems facing the city with the advent of the Downtown Historic Shuttle, but says the city will continue its use of the tire chalking process to face daily challenges brought about by the limited parking downtown.
“We continue to manage the issue,” he said. “Most citizens, I think, would agree traffic in general is an issue in the city and parking is an indicator of our growth and effective marketing. Some say that is a good problem to have, but it is still a challenge we deal with day-to-day.”
Although the Sixth Circuit ruling has no affect on the state of Georgia, some experts believe the finding could affect the constitutionality of other technologies utilized by law enforcement down the line, such as automatic license plate readers (ALPRs) among others.
“It depends on how you use those types of technology,” Parks said. “There are ways to use those properly and ways to use them less properly. I think what we’ll see is some revisiting of how to properly use those devices. There needs to be some regulations that swing the pendulum back to proper use.”