The Carmel City Council approved an ordinance amendment at its July 6 meeting that prohibits loitering in public parking garages and lots.
The new law is in response to large groups of young people congregating on top of city parking garages, particularly the 700-space Veteran’s Way garage near Carmel City Center.
During the public comment portion of the meeting, two Carmel residents expressed safety concerns about allowing the gatherings to continue. Diana Prickett, who lives near the garage, said she has seen people walking along the ledge and pretending to fall off of it.
“I’m scared to death as a parent that something’s going to happen, and I don’t want to watch it,” she said.
The amendment prohibits remaining in a parking garage or a vehicle parked in one for more than 15 minutes, an amount of time “reasonably necessary to either park and exit a motor vehicle or to enter a motor vehicle and exit the parking garage,” the ordinance states. A first-time violation can lead to a $50 fine, with subsequent violations in a calendar year incurring a $150 fine.
City attorney Douglas Haney, who drafted the ordinance, said enforcement will be at the discretion of Carmel police.
“Several police officers have told me the kids who are congregating up there say, ‘There’s no sign. There’s nothing you can do,” Haney said. “This gives a tool to the officers to do something.”
The council suspended the rules and approved the amendment on its first reading.
“We’re at a crisis point where somebody is going to get hurt,” said councilor Bruce Kimball, who asked the council to take quick action on the matter.
At the request of the council, Haney will research if and how the amendment could be applied to privately-owned parking garages in Carmel. Depending on his findings, the council could amend the ordinance again to include all parking garages in the city.