Every citizen should stand up and cheer when a high court broadens the Constitutional rights of the people and narrows the powers of the government in order to respect that right.  The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals recently bucked a trend in the court that has seen Fourth Amendment rights (commonly known as protection of the people from unreasonable search and seizure by government) steadily eroded. 

The ruling also has local significance as the practice of police chalking tires in order to enforce parking time restrictions has been tacitly affirmed by Ludington's local government as late as this last July in a conversation between Councilor Carol Pomorski and LPD Chief Mark Barnett at the 38 minute mark of a council meeting

July 9th, 2018 Ludington City Council meeting from Mason County District Library on Vimeo.

Pomorski: How are you going to make sure on two hour parking? How are you going to enforce that?
Barnett: Well, basically the two hour parking is what we have now. What we hope to do is go and have officers go and chalk tires and come back a couple of hours later and vehicles that have not been moved, to issue citations for those.
Pomorski: Will we have time for that then?
Barnett: We will make time to make sure parking is enforced.

Fifteen months earlier than this, Saginaw resident Alison Taylor filed a federal lawsuit against the City of Saginaw after parking enforcement agents acting on behalf of the city mercilessly gifted her with numerous parking citations using the same tactic of chalking her tires.  She alleged that such chalking violated her Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable search.  

The district court found in the City's favor, finding that, while chalking may have constituted a search under the Fourth Amendment, the search was reasonable, finding that it fell under a 'community caretaking function' of the local police.  It was appealed and the federal appeals court chalked the practice up as a regulatory exercise instead, and reversed the lower court's decision.

In finding that a Fourth Amendment violation had occurred, the court sought answers for two primary questions: first, whether the alleged government conduct constituted a search within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment; and second, whether the search was reasonable.

In the recent Supreme Court decision United States v. Jones, 565 U.S. 400 (2012), it was found that when governmental invasions are accompanied by physical intrusions, a search occurs when the government: (1) trespasses upon a constitutionally protected area, (2) to obtain information. 

Because the City made intentional physical contact with Taylor’s vehicle it was a common law trespass fulfilling the first part of the test.  Furthermore, it was undisputed that the City used the chalk marks for the purpose of identifying vehicles that have been parked in the same location for a certain period of time, fulfilling the second part.  Therefore a 'search' had occurred, a finding made through another approach by the original court.

In finding the search unreasonable the court concluded that the City of Saginaw did not bear its burden of showing how the 'warrantless search' was warranted.  Ms. Taylor's car was parked legally and was not creating any articulated public hazard in being there for more than the arbitrary time set by the City.  The court reasoned that because the purpose of chalking was to raise revenue and not to mitigate public hazard, that it did not justify a warrantless search under the community caretaker rationale. 

With the current mix of the Supreme Court, this finding is likely to stand if it does get further appealed by the City, and should lead to the end of this practice throughout America.  Will City's adapt their strategy to continue to raise money through parking fines using more expensive (yet less intrusive) means through cameras and meters?   Of course.

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 Officials think they are Heroes for everything they do. Yet, these types of "Police Tactics" are destroying the fabric of Our Country, at Will. That clearly is Not a Definition of a Hero. Major accountability needs to recognized, and enforced. Retrain those that can follow the Laws and their Oath. Dump the others. The "People" are nothing but victims in this country. Just pawns in a profiteering ponzi scam with their FREEDOMS weighing in the balance of One Official's unlawful actions. Their attitudes are deplorable, appalling, and dangerous. They are down right toxic to The American Way! Escalation artists, entrapment artists,excessive enforcers, and pure money grabbers. It's not acceptable.

Chalking tires goes back before parking meters were installed. The main reason a time limit was put on parking was that people "hogged" parking spaces and gave others no chance to use that space. This was a real problem in retail areas such as a city's downtown area. I personally do not like parking meters but something is needed to keep people from using a parking spot for a period longer than what they need it for. It's a catch 22. Open parking spots by limiting time so others may use it, but at the same time you're chasing away someone already shopping. As parking spaces become scarcer some fair method has to be found. For those cities that use this only as a revenue source and not to free up parking spaces, the court ruling makes sense and helps the public. However this ruling is going to cost the taxpayer because chalking is cheap compared to installing and maintaining parking meters and besides, in my opinion, this woman who hogged those parking spaces was being inconsiderate.

actually the practice of the LPD marking tires goes back into the 70's when the patrons of bars were the one getting marked..... The police would then pull over any car they saw with a mark on the tire knowing that that person driving had been patronizing a local "watering hole"... two colors were used yellow as pictured and white.....

The Ludington DDA has wisely created stickers (made by their favorite go-to business, Safety Decals) made for those people who live in the downtown area so they are not ticketed by the local police for overnight parking or other infractions that may come up.  Needless to say, city hall probably got an earful from those living in second story rental rehab units who have been ticketed for parking next to their home.  

Metered parking in the downtown area may just come up again due to the crippling loss of public parking spaces in the Bowling alley block and the Elk's parking lot, and the growing population planned to be living downtown.  But I doubt it will go anywhere precisely because it will have a negative impact on downtown businesses.

This is an interesting article regarding chalking tires in the San Fransisco area.

"I was reading the comments from last week’s post, and thought I would respond to one of them: I'd love to hear about parking in two-hour zones. Are meter maids marking tires still? I never see them do that these days. I often rush to get back to the car after two hours and never even see my tire marked. - Nader

Great Question Nader.  Chalking of tires is still done in order to keep track of when cars are exceeding the posted time limit. Last year 41,932 vehicles were cited for overstaying their welcome. The DPT officer will chalk a block’s worth of cars, come back in two hours, and all of the cars with chalk on their tires will be given a ticket.
It’s great that you are diligent and check on your car every two hours.  A good tip in a two-hour zone (and at a meter) is to set your alarm on your phone to remind you of when your time is up. It takes literally 10 seconds, and will inevitably save you $50 or more.
Some people will come out and wipe the chalk off of their tire.  This is actually illegal and will get you a $100 citation on top of your one-hour citation.
But, just because you don’t see any chalk, it doesn’t mean that you are safe.  DPT officers have a trick and now use an electronic tracking device that scans your license plate and block number, leaving no evidence of chalk.  Here’s how it works: You park in a two hour zone, set your alarm, come back in one hour and 59 minutes, check your tires, see no chalk, think everything is cool, think that you get another two-hours for free, you go back to work, come back in less than two hours, and find a ticket on your windshield.  What happened? When the DPT comes back around, they rescan your license plate, and if you’ve been there for more than the limit, your sunny day just became cloudy with a hundred percent chance of rain.
Another common mistake is to move your car up the block, or even to the other side of the street.  That should be good enough, right?  Wrong. The rule is that you have to move it to a completely different block.  When DPT scans your license plate, they log it into a specific block of the street. So, when they come back, even though you’ve moved your vehicle, it still shows that you've been on the same block for over the time limit.  The rule of thumb is that as long as you cross a cross-street, you are in a new block and are good to go.
I know of one officer who is very crafty and told me that she has taken this cat-and-mouse game to a higher level. She marks your tire with chalk and also scans your license plate. So when you move your tires one or two feet to make the chalk line disappear, you think you are safe.  But, the chalk was just a decoy and when she comes back around, she has also scanned your license plate, and will give you a ticket.  Cat 1, Mouse 0."
For more in depth info on how to be the cat in this cat and mouse game with the DPT click here.

   As I see it the person overstaying their parking time limit is probably an employee working at one of the business's on the block.  Employee's should use the public parking lot and also park in the back so customers can access the business's more easily. Of coarse that isn't going to happen.

Chalk another one up for the Fourth Amendment from the Michigan Supreme Court:  Police can't search a car's passenger's personal effects without that passenger's consent-- or a warrant:

The Michigan Supreme Court has tightened the legal standard for searching people during a traffic stop.
The court ruled in favor of a car passenger who said his rights were violated when police in Jackson County searched his backpack without his consent.
The backpack held marijuana and methamphetamine. But in a unanimous decision Monday, the Supreme Court says the search was unconstitutional. Chief Justice Bridget McCormack says Larry Mead had a “legitimate expectation” of privacy.
Mead was a passenger in a car stopped by a sheriff’s deputy. The deputy looked in Mead’s backpack after the driver said the car could be searched.
McCormack compared it to someone using a ride-sharing service. She says police can’t search a passenger based on consent from a driver. Mead served nearly three years in prison.

Goodbye chalk. Hello parking meters.

Thanks for those videos shinblind. Doesn't the public understand how much those damned things cost? They still have to be serviced and maintained. Malls do just fine without parking meters.

Or chalking pavement near tires, as parking officials continue to seek extra money in Bay City.  If Ludington's city leaders determine that there are parking spot shortages, which they may after losing the Bowling Alley block and Elk's parking lots while seeing many more people potentially living downtown, parking meters could become very real again.  They'll tell us it's going to go to the DDA so they can continue their 'progress' and expand their events downtown.

If the City wants to create a new ghost town then installing parking meters will do the trick.


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