3/22/2007Florida: City to Seize Homes Over a $5 Parking Ticket
Brooksville, Florida proposes to foreclose homes and seize cars over less than $20 in parking tickets.
The city council in Brooksville, Florida voted this week to advance a proposal granting city officials the authority to place liens and foreclose on the homes of motorists accused of failing to pay a single $5 parking ticket. Non-homeowners face having their vehicles seized if accused of not paying three parking offenses.
According to the proposed ordinance, a vehicle owner must pay a parking fine within 72 hours if a meter maid claims his automobile was improperly parked, incurring tickets worth between $5 and $250. Failure to pay this amount results in the assessment of a fifty-percent "late fee." After seven days, the city will place a lien on the car owner's home for the amount of the ticket plus late fees, attorney fees and an extra $15 fine. The fees quickly turn a $5 ticket into a debt worth several hundred dollars, growing at a one-percent per month interest rate. The ordinance does not require the city to provide notice to the homeowner at any point so that after ninety days elapse, the city will foreclose. If the motorist does not own a home, it will seize his vehicle after the failure to pay three parking tickets.
Any motorist who believes a parking ticket may have been improperly issued must first pay a $250 "appeal fee" within seven days to have the case heard by a contract employee of the city. This employee will determine whether the city should keep the appeal fee, plus the cost of the ticket and late fees, or find the motorist not guilty. Council members postponed a decision on whether to reduce this appeal fee until final adoption of the measure which is expected in the first week of April.
The full text of the ordinance is available in a 605k PDF file at the source link below.