Residents worried Royal Oak has a parking enforcement problem

Royal Oak residents want the city to do something about its high parking violation rate.

A study of parking enforcement in the city found that 43% of all visitors that used on-street or meter parking downtown were ticketed. That number of tickets comes with a pretty penny for the city budget - but some are worried it's giving Royal Oak a bad name.

"The rumor is: don't come to Royal Oak," said one who spoke at city council Monday night. "The parking is terrible and businesses are feeling it. Residents are feeling it because nobody is coming."

The study, which was commissioned by a parking consultants company for the city was released earlier in January. 

It found that a majority of those ticketed for parking had either violated the five-minute grace period offered to anyone parking on-street or were parked for an hour longer than the allowed time. 

A parking consultant who spoke at the Monday evening meeting said both residents and those traveling to the city need to be aware of the rules around parking.

"I think we need to communicate to people that if you pay for a certain amount of time, you need to procure that before you leave that space," they said.

Royal Oak issues 32,500 tickets a month on average. At about $20 a ticket, that comes out to about $3.5 million in parking fines annually. 

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That money might help the city budget, but many worry people are less interested in going downtown because of issues with parking. 

One solution was to extend the grace period from five to 15 minutes. The city could also extend the maximum amount of time it would allow a car to be parked at a spot to three hours - though the study didn't recommend that option. 

"Although violators of the on-street time limit are parking for nearly three hours, this should continue to be discouraged through the violations and fines imposed," the study said.