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Royal Oak businesses complain new parking meters don't work, turn customers away

Royal Oak parking meters
Posted at 11:20 PM, Apr 27, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-27 23:20:26-04

ROYAL OAK, Mich. (WXYZ) — Maryn O’Brien grew up near downtown Royal Oak. Walking down Washington Avenue and Main Street were always enjoyable, but parking hasn't been.

“It’s always been a little bit of a mess,” O'Brien said.

In recent months however, O’Brien says it’s become almost unbearable with the installation of the new Sentry Parking Meters.

Essentially, how it works is a person backs into a parking space and the meter captures the license plate. There is two-minute free parking but afterward, there is a two-hour limit. When that time is up, you automatically get a ticket or the option to pay for the time you went over.

O’Brien says she hears customers complain about parking everyday.

So what are the complaints? For one, back-in parking.

“We’ve seen multiple fender benders just from the front of the shop during the day. I would hate to see what happens when we're closed and the bars are open,” O'Brien said.

There are a few signs around the area instructing drivers to back in, but not everybody got the message.

“The two-hour parking thing is kind of crazy,” a man parking told 7 Action News.

He says he came in from out of town to see one of his favorite bands preform. He planned on going to dinner before the show, meaning he would be downtown for at least six hours. But there is no option for him to pay for additional parking after the two minute limit.

“What am I supposed to do, sit here and wait for a ticket?” he asked.

The city mayor says parking garages are also an option in Royal Oak.

“If you don’t like reverse angle parking or you don’t like the meters, the good news is we have convenient parking in all our garages,” Royal Oak Mayor Mike Fournier said.

Fournier says his office has received complaints but overall, he believes the program is working. He adds that downtown has always had time limits on parking and backing in is proving to be safer.

Fournier admits there have been a number of technical issues, with the program temporarily shutting down in February. The mayor urges anyone who has received a ticket unjustly to report it to Royal Oak police.

“We’re doing everything to remedy their situation,” Fournier said.

There is an online petition circulating that has nearly 2,000 signatures. People plan on presenting it during the city commission meeting on May 9.

However, Fournier says the city is under contract to have the meters for five years and they are currently a few months into year one.