Public or private? City looks to help drivers avoid parking tickets

PORTLAND, Ore. - A KATU On Your Side investigation has led to new signs and a proposed city ordinance aimed at keeping Portland drivers from getting big tickets for accidentally parking illegally.

The changes include big signs already placed on streets near Moody and Hall in Southwest Portland that mark private metered parking on what most anyone would think is a public street.

All this started with a very frustrated Barbara McNasser in March after she'd gotten a ticket for parking on the street marked by a tiny sign she never saw.

Then City Commissioner Nick Fish got one of the tickets. He went online to research the issue, and the first thing he saw was KATU's investigation into those private parking tickets.

"Private parking on what appears to be public right-of-way, I think we have to be extra vigilant," Fish said. "That's what KATU pointed out in its investigative piece. That's why we really looked at this closely."

Some signs have already been upgraded with larger print and nighttime lighting to meet the proposed private street parking standard.

McNasser said Monday that the new signs are a big improvement and hopes they get City Council approval.

"Well, at least people will not be confused," she said. "I mean, in other words, when it's obvious and you've got a choice, are you gonna pay or are you not? ... "Everything should be posted because most people want to do the right thing."

Drivers still have to pay for the private parking spaces 24/7. The city thought of making them come into line with all of the rest of the city's parking meters but that would allow the operators to tow cars instead. Fish didn't want that.