McMinnville city council cracks down on negative parking garage behaviors

The mcMinnville city council has voted to move ahead and crack down on negative behavior in the city’s parking garage. On a unanimous vote last night, councilors have given the police department a tool to take action. Two audience members thanked the city for finally doing something about negative behaviors inside the parking garage.

For months, county employees and others who use the garage have voice concerned about the homeless setting up camp in the parking garage. councilors have heard stories about rude comments, people living in cars, human waste, needles and other behaviors that have made some say they don’t feel safe using the parking garage.

In 30 days the new ordinance will go into effect. In 30 days, persons may only use the parking garage to park their cars. No camping, loitering, smoking, loud music or boistrous behavior or any activitity that interferes with the normal function of others will be allowed. Perosns must leave personal belongings inside their vehicles. Persons violating the ordinance can be banned from the parking garage for up to 180 days and arrested for trespassing if they return.

The council paused on another recommendation from the downtown safety committee about banning smoking downtown and in the city parks. Three people including business and property owner Steve Lawrence complained smokers are being penalized for negative behaviors of a few, and that smokers are being picked on. He joined with councilors Adam Garvin and Sal Peralta in saying they council should delay final adopting until the next council meeting to allow more downtown businesses to realize the ban is coming. Even though council has been talking about this for several months, Lawrence said he just found out about it from a police officer just recently. Lawrence says some businesses may lose customer if there is an outright ban of smoking in downtown McMinnville. So council is waiting another two weeks, but seems ready to enact that ban unless there is a groundswell of opposition from downtown businesses or users.

city council also passed on emergency, the ability of the city to tow vehicles, at the city expense if they are blocking city paving projects or other city infrastructure work. The city has come close to having to delay significant infrastructure projects because someone’s car is parked in the way and the owner can’t be notified. Contracators are supposed to post no parking signs within seven days of a project, but city staff say invariably someone’s car is in the way and it can delay an expensive project. The city would rather pay 200 dollars for a tow than pay thousands extra to put a contractor on hold.

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