Atterholt Wants Town to Stop Playing ‘Gotcha’

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Did you know that if you get a parking ticket on Fort Myers Beach ten minutes or less after your meter expires, you can call a telephone number and have the ticket ripped up? Of course you didn’t, it’s a completely rhetorical question, and the town has never shared that with anyone. Until now.

If you’ve been following our Facebook page you know the story of Matt Struble. Matt is a frequent visitor to Fort Myers Beach. During one of the slowest times of the year, in a half-empty Town of Fort Myers Beach owned parking lot, Matt went over his time by three minutes and received a $77.00 parking ticket. We shared Matt’s story with copies of his ticket and parking app history on our Facebook page. It generated an immediate response from Vice Mayor Jim Atterholt who was under the impression that there was a 10-minute grace period before B.A.S.E. employees slapped tickets on people.

Back on April 6th, acting Town Manager Keith Wilkins told the Town Council there was a 10-minute grace period already built into the system. That’s why Atterholt was bewildered about Struble’s ticket. Wilkins received his 10-minute grace period information from the B.A.S.E supervisor. However, while Wilkins believed the 10 minutes addressed Atterholt’s concern that it was after a meter expired, the B.A.S.E. supervisor’s grace period explanation was the ten minutes leading up to expiration. The app does give users a 10-minute warning when time is about to expire.

Whether it’s ten minutes before or ten minutes after Atterholt does not want the town going after people so quickly. “I didn’t want our residents and visitors to feel like the Town was playing “gotcha” if they got a ticket shortly after their time ran out on the meter.” Atterholt apologized to Struble and vowed to resolve the issue as soon as possible.

On Wednesday of this week, B.A.S.E. Supervisor Todd Sears wrote an e-mail to Struble claiming the app system the town uses has no way of knowing if time expires after 1 minute or 5 hours. He says when parking sessions expire they automatically delete out of the officers hand held system. Sears said officers are not out there issuing tickets for monetary reasons.

Sears goes on to tell Stuble that he has access to the back office of the system and he can view all parking transactions. “I do receive telephone calls from people that explain that they were only a few minutes late. After reviewing the parking session I will void the ticket if it reveals that they were within 10 minutes late.”

Sears says the only way he can rip up your ticket is if you call immediately after seeing the ticket. If they call later, he says he’s unable to tell if anyone was parked longer than they reported.

Even though Struble did not call Sears “immediately,” he actually didn’t call him at all, Sears told Struble he was voiding his citation as “it does reveal that you were 3 minutes late.”

There’s a history of your usage in the parking app. If you go over by a few minutes and get nailed for a ticket, be sure to save the history so you can show the town if you do call and nobody is there to answer. Here’s the phone number you should keep handy if this happens to you. It’s the number Sears gave Struble in the e-mail: 239-463-5888.

On Thursday, the town of Fort Myers Beach Magistrate upheld a parking ticket violation for Michael Duvall, who B.A.S.E. officer Mike Surick alleged took too long to unload his products while making a delivery to Bella Mozzarella in Times Square. It was clear the B.A.S.E. officer, who gave two different stories for why he wrote the ticket, was even being challenged by Duvall. The Magistrate upheld the $77 ticket and $175 administrative fee.

Atterholt plans to bring the issue up at the Town Council meeting Monday.

 

19 COMMENTS

  1. $5.00 per hour is excessive and a 2 hour time limit is ridiculous. Is that 2 hr time limit in specific places or everywhere. I love Ft. Myers Beach and lived there for many years. The beach was a 100 yard walk from my front door on Anchorage St. I had a resident parking pass that allowed beach access parking nearer Times Square and under the bridge. I now live 30-40 minutes from FMB and 1 1/2 hrs to Siesta Key Beach. Both are fun day trips but Siesta Key Beach is less expensive with much better water and facilities. People will continue to go to FMB, miss their metered time for a few minutes, not know about the 10 minute grace period or the phone number to call and will pay the ticket, maybe never to return. Could this be a ploy by the town to reduce traffic on the island???

  2. so people wonder why residents and visitors are so disgusted with the Town and the stupid unnecessary ways they deal with people. I am so tired of all this crap you either want people to come and support our town or not… Its bad enough the way they treat most of the residents…Recently I was told by the Town permitting department regarding permit problems, the results and actions were at the discretion of the Town Administrator Steve Poposki.. my attorney was very concerned about this being possible discrimination and so am I … they have not heard the end of this. stay tuned.

  3. You have to be kidding this is more expensive than NYC..175 administration fee.no way I’ll ever park on a meter in ft Myers Beach again.

  4. This is a ridiculous amount for a fine and an administrations fee!!! It is right up there with the permit fees!
    How do they, where do they get these numbers??

  5. If you want to appeal to visitors and want them to keep coming back to spend their hard earned money on FMB don’t leave a bad taste in their mouth with an outrageous over priced parking ticket!
    There are many places along the coast of Florida people can vacation that didn’t get hit by a hurricane recently!

    • It was increased to $77 last year from $35. Folks parking for the whole day found it cheaper to pay the $35 fine than hourly parking.

      In any event, town-operated parking spots are not the only option. There are also free lots and private lots.

  6. Unless Florida is different than NYS, tickets ARE a source of income for villages, towns, cities, and states! I would definitely check this out!

  7. Thank you for the number. Keeping it for visitors, last thing vacationers want is a bad memory! Good people with common sense can prevail.

  8. We thought the town rules couldn’t get any worse and now here we are. Atterholt is the only town council that is qualified and not on a power trip.

  9. Of course tickets are written for money. It’s a source of Revenue. I think it’s kind of a petty source, but it’s a source that almost every city uses.

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