KSL Investigates: Confusing Parking Signs Lead To Tickets
MANTUA, Utah — Just a few days after Christmas, multiple complaints popped into the KSL Investigates tip line with the same story: pricey tickets for parking in the same spot they have parked for years.
All were from anglers who enjoy ice fishing at Mantua Reservoir, just off Highway 89 between Brigham City and Logan.
The problem: new parking signs that had many confused.
‘No Parking’ Confusion
“Arrow does not point in the direction my son parked his truck,” said one woman, whose son got a ticket. “It is misleading to any angler that goes out there to enjoy a day of fishing.”
“This year Mantua has been ticketing anglers who are parking outside of the ‘no parking’ sign,” wrote another complainant.
Curtis Seward called the KSL Investigators after he got a ticket on Christmas Eve. He said he’s been parking on the side of the dike road for decades with no problem.
“Come out here, get ready to go fishing, and lo and behold, they’ve made it all illegal,” he said.
For decades, No Parking signs have been posted on the dike road at the spot where an access road connects. That is so farmers can navigate the road with their farm equipment.
Seward said the signs have always been clear that you can’t park at this junction, but parking on either side of that junction has been fine.
At least, that was the case until the new conflicting signs went up.
Two weeks after Seward’s ticket, KSL Investigators visited the reservoir and watched Bob Coleman come back to find the same ticket on his windshield: $100 for Failure to Obey A Regulatory Sign.
“I don’t understand what this sign says,” said Coleman. “Apparently a bunch of other people don’t either.”
The sign to which Coleman refers is a new double arrow No Parking sign, which was erected about 15 feet away from a single arrow No Parking sign that points the other way.
Court records show Coleman is right about others not understanding this new sign. Eleven people were cited for parking on the dike road on Christmas Eve alone.
Seward has a theory about why.
“Here they are giving out tickets just so they can make revenue,” he said.
Mantua is no stranger to accusations of using tickets for revenue. The city topped the list of giving out the most speeding tickets per capita in 2018.
But the city is adamant that they are not writing tickets to make money.
Mantua’s police chief, Justin Brown, told KSL Investigators by email that ultimately those parked on the side of the road were breaking the law.
“Citations were issued to vehicles blocking the free flow of traffic,” wrote Brown.
The town finance clerk claimed in an email that, “Mantua loses money on parking tickets, so it would be foolish for us to write parking tickets as a way of boosting our revenue.”
She points out the State of Utah takes a 40% surcharge from any paid ticket, and the town must pay an attorney to file the infractions.
Looking at Mantua’s 2019-2020 budget, the town has estimated $180,000 in revenue from fines and forfeitures, which includes parking tickets. That’s a 24% increase from the previous year’s budget.
In 2015, at the height of Mantua’s traffic enforcement, police wrote $432,727.48 in tickets. Those included everything from speeding, to DUIs, to parking. That number dropped significantly when construction hampered traffic on the freeway near town.
But parking tickets alone went up 51% in Mantua between 2018 and 2019.
Who’s Responsible for the Confusing Signs?
Mantua told us Brigham City owns Mantua Reservoir and the dike road around it. Their administration is therefore responsible for the No Parking signs.
When we showed Rick Bosworth, director of human resources for Brigham City, the confusing signs, he told us this was an error following some construction work on the road in the past year.
“[The signs] need to be flipped around,” said Bosworth. “When those signs were put back in, they’re pointing away and they need to be pointing towards [each other.]”
Bosworth agreed the signs were confusing, and after our calls, had them fixed.
Parking along the side of the dike road is legal once more at Mantua Reservoir, so long as you don’t park in the specified no parking area near the junction.
Bosworth said Brigham City has worked closely with Mantua to evaluate parking needs at the reservoir, as the spot grows in popularity with recreators. This past year, they added an additional parking lot to alleviate parking congestion.
Court records show that while Coleman & Seward’s tickets were both written for Failure to Obey a Regulatory Sign, they were filed with the court as Prohibited Parking/Obstruction.
One man who received a ticket emailed KSL Investigators to tell us he wasn’t notified of this change until he showed up to court to fight the ticket. The new charge comes with a smaller fine of $75.
Brown said his department wrote the tickets at the request of Brigham City employees – who were not acting in an official capacity.
“Said employees accompanied Mantua Police Department Personnel around the Reservoir to point out the violators. Mantua Police Department cooperated and issued citations to the offending vehicles as requested.”
Bosworth confirmed this happened and said, “it is Brigham City’s intent to continue to work with the town of Mantua on any issues that arise on Brigham City properties.”
From now on, Mantua said it will carefully consider what types of enforcement, if any, they’ll provide Brigham City surrounding the Mantua Reservoir.
But good news for Seward: he won’t have to fight his parking ticket.
In a statement, the Mantua police wrote, “in a gesture of goodwill, the Mantua Police Department will dismiss the involved parking citations issued between December 24th and January 1st.”
Coleman received his ticket on January 3. Court records show his ticket has not been dismissed.
Have you experienced something you think just isn’t right? The KSL Investigators want to help. Submit your tip at firstname.lastname@example.org or 385-707-6153 so we can get working for you.