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Parking fees could be enforced next month

Starting May 1 Nevada City will reimplement its parking pass program and once again begin enforcing parking meter fees.

The city temporarily suspended collecting parking meter fees last June to try to minimize the effect of COVID-19 restrictions on businesses.

However in July the council voted to enforce the policy again, determining the revenue the parking meter fees brought to the city was greater than the potential incentive the suspension provides for patrons.



Despite passing a resolution reversing the suspension, the policy was never enforced after the state moved to its color coded tier system that determines counties’ COVID-19 restrictions.

“From that point on the resolution was not enforced with the understanding that the police department would instead focus its enforcement on COVID violations,” interim City Manager Joan Phillipe told the City Council at its Wednesday meeting. “As you’ve made clear that hasn’t been a consistent practice either.”



At the time, then Nevada City Police Chief Chad Ellis said enforcement would require rehiring a parking enforcement officer that was laid off at the onset of the pandemic.

Ellis in November said enforcement would return that month after two weeks of warnings as the laid off parking enforcement position would be returning.

Between fiscal year 2013-14 and 2017-18, the city averaged about $222,000 in annual revenue from parking meter enforcement and citations. Before the pandemic, the city anticipated collecting more than $400,000 in fiscal year 2019-20 from parking meter enforcement.

After the pandemic hit, the city anticipated collecting $90,000 in revenue for the 2020-21 fiscal year from parking meter enforcement.

CANNABIS

At the meeting the council also voted to give cannabis business owners who failed to renew their licenses a one-time reprieve, essentially making their permits good for an additional year.

Last April the city gave cannabis businesses a six-month permit extension in recognition of the difficulties navigating the pandemic as a new industry. Another six-month extension was granted in January.

However, the affected businesses were not subject to those extensions because their permits expired before the COVID-19 restrictions went into effect.

The move would affect five businesses and, according to city staff, would not codify the change for future use.

Nevada County Cannabis Alliance Executive Director Diana Gamzon described the renewal issues as “an honest mistake when many operators were not yet operational.”

The permit waiver was first agreed on in March, but had to come back to council as a ordinance before taking effect.

“I have my own suspicions about why people might be confused about paperwork in this industry,” Councilman Gary Petersen said at the March meeting.

“This is a business, it needs to be run like business and we need to make sure that we’re holding them accountable. This is very important to me. We’ve got to get this right. I’m willing to let it go one time, but no reduction of fees anymore and get your act together.”

To contact Staff Writer John Orona, email jorona@theunion.com or call 530-477-4229.


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