Why won’t Econo Lodge pay my parking ticket?


Even though Linda Troop pays for parking while she’s a guest at an Econo Lodge, she receives a parking ticket from the city of Aurora, Colo. Who has to pay?

Question: I recently checked in to an Econo Lodge in Aurora, Colo. I paid for a one-night stay for a Stay, Park and Fly package. All parking spots were taken, so I went in and told a hotel employee that there were no more spaces to park in, and asked if I could leave my car at the curb on the side of the hotel. I was told “yes.”

When I arrived back at the hotel two weeks later, I noticed a parking ticket on my car windshield from the city of Aurora. I went into the lobby to inquire about the ticket. After all, I had paid for parking. The front-desk attendant looked baffled. She referred me to a manager, who offered to pay my ticket. Then he took my ticket.

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A month later, I received a “Parking Ticket Final Notice To Pay” letter from the city. An additional $25 late fee had been added, so I now owed $150, and I had only a few days to pay it before the city handed it over to an attorney for collections.

Since receiving this ticket in the mail, I have tried to call Econo Lodge on numerous occasions to talk to the manager, and was always told that he was not there and that no one knew when he would be at work. I also left messages on his voice mail account that were never returned. I looked for an email address and found none.

I also called Choice Hotels International, which owns Econo Lodge, and was told that it would submit my “unfortunate incident” to the hotel. I was told by Choice Hotels there was nothing it could do and that the individual hotel would have to take care of it.

I live in Colorado Springs, which is an hour and 15 minutes away from Aurora, so just popping in to talk to the manager was not possible. I had no choice but to pay the ticket, which is when I found out I was parked in a fire lane that was not clearly marked. After paying the ticket, I stopped in to talk to the manager, and again I was told he was not in. Can you help me? — Linda Troop, Colorado Springs, Colo.

Answer: This is one of the strangest cases I’ve seen in a while. I reviewed the correspondence between you, Econo Lodge and the city of Aurora, and as far as I can tell, you didn’t park in an actual parking spot.

You asked a hotel employee where you could park, and were referred to a curb designated as a fire lane. Only, it wasn’t clearly marked as a fire lane, according to you. So when you received a ticket, both you and the employee were surprised and, again, based on your account, so was the manager on duty.

To be clear, it’s your responsibility to park your car in a legal spot. But you also relied on the word of a hotel employee, who should have known (and if he didn’t, he had no business referring you to the parking spot you used). If the manager had told you, “Tough luck,” this would be the end of the story. Technically, he’d be right, and you would need to pay up.

But that’s not what happened. The manager took your ticket and — again, according to your account — promised to pay it. And as I like to say, a promise is a promise.

Fixing this ticket might have been a little easier if you’d sent the notice from the city of Aurora directly to Choice Hotels by email, instead of trying to resolve this by phone. Remember, calls don’t leave a paper trail, so there’s no way for you to prove that a conversation happened. I’d like to think a brief, polite email to Choice would have cleared this up, but I’m not sure.

It appears as though the manager who promised to pay your ticket was “unavailable” to discuss your claim. I don’t see any indication that the silent treatment would have ended, and that left you with a ticket to pay.

I contacted Choice Hotels on your behalf. It cut you a check for $150, the full amount of the ticket plus the late fee.

Should Econo have paid the parking fee?

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199 thoughts on “Why won’t Econo Lodge pay my parking ticket?

  1. Eh, if you’re old enough to drive, I think you’re old enough to decide if a parking space is good. At a minimum, I would have moved the car to the parking lot in the morning when a few spaces had cleared. I doubt I would trust the word of a late night employee at an econo inn.

  2. It reminds me of the question, “If he told you to go jump in the lake, would you do it”?

    Anyone who has a driver’s license needs to know where to park. Driving is not a right.

  3. I think Chris just helped someone scam a motel out of a parking ticket. If she REALLy had a case about the fire lane being unmarked, she should have made her case in court.
    Why would you believe anyone who isn’t in law enforcement or government administration about where you can park on a public street (the curb). Do you ask your waitress/server about medical problems? No, Why would you even believe a desk employee would have any authority to grant you permission to park anywhere that wasn’t on the property.

    1. Note the subtlety of her language. Not that it was unmarked, but rather it wasn’t clearly marked. I read that to mean that it was marked, she just didn’t notice.

      At the end of the day, she is responsible for reading signs and knowing where to mark.

      The $150 is a goodwill gesture.

      1. Legalities and the driver’s responsibility aside, the hotel manager did relieve the renter of the responsibility by telling her they would pay the ticket. Not doing that resulted in the addition of a fine. Based upon the hotel’s failure to fulfill their promise, I voted that the hotel rightfully should have paid. That they did, is a feather in their cap.

      1. Tony pointed out a sign in the picture I uploaded elsewhere. I captured a new one from the street view that clearly shows a fire hydrant and two No Parking signs, one on each side of the street.

        ADDED: and the street is VERY narrow

        1. you mean other than the signs every 12 feet that say ‘No Parking?”

          Why, how could I tell I could not park there. . . . .

          Of course, how much was the cost of parking? If it was more than $125 then she parked for free essentially. If they don’t tow, and all you get is a ticket . . . and the cost of parking is more than $125 at the airport for 2 weeks?

          I’m parking there and taking the Econolodge van to the airport.

          1. Having lived in Colorado Springs and flown out of Denver, as this LW did, I can personally attest to this approach. Being close to the airport the night before is a very wise move.

            The advantage of this program (Stay and Fly) is the low rate for parking vs. the garages at DIA ($16 plus per day). In our case, since the outlying parking lots at DIA (e.g., Pikes Peak) were a) gated/fenced, b) only $5 per day, and C) accessed by shuttles every 15 minutes 24 x 7, we chose that option.

          2. Yes, actually, it is. The address is: 8500 Peña Blvd, Denver, CO 80249. DIA is, in fact, in the city and county of Denver.

            Denver annexed 53 square miles in 1988 with the approval of voters in Adams County.

          3. DIA is more than 20 miles outside of downtown Denver. Its further to DIA then it is to Highlands Ranch. It is also outside the 470 loop which most people consider outside Denver.
            Denver is huge and it won’t be long before its the DEN-COS-PUB metropolis.

          4. I always stay overnight at a Park/Fly hotel, the cost of the room is essentially zero and I have no stress catching my flight the next day. Plus a lovely quiet evening with room service to start my trip on a positive note.

        2. I don’t believe she parked in the street. I believe she parked in the lot, just next to a curb and not a designated spot. Since she got a ticket for parking in a fire lane this makes sense.

      1. Well that usually is the whole point of these park/sleep packages. I do this all the time. I live 1 hour away from the nearest airport. So too far for a taxi/shuttle. Parking at the airport itself is $40/day. Parking 3 miles from the airport + a free nights hotel stay is $120 bucks. So I can take that 7AM flight without having to leave my house at 3AM,

        It likely was the responsibility of the Hotel to find her a legal spot, as that is the reason she was sleeping there in the first place.

    2. No, this one is clearly the hotel’s fault. They pointed LW to what she had to assume was a designated overflow parking area. Every hotel should have such an area, in case their own parking fills up, and it’s not the guest’s responsibility to decide whether that area satisfies local laws. And how is a traveler going to “make his case in court” when he lives possibly in another country?

      1. Wow I missed the part where they walked out and pointed to an area of the road clearly labeled with no parking signs and told her to park there. She may have misunderstood the clerk’s directions or the clerk wasn’t specific enough but you don’t park in a labeled no parking zone.

        1. According to the text, LW asked to the clerk if she could park at the curb and he told her yes.
          It was her idea to park at the curb,.. She could have explained wrongly to the clerk where she was going to park.

      2. If you examine the top view picture that Tony posted, it shows no such designated area. It’s likely that it was indeed the street that the LW asked about (“curb at the side of the hotel”).

      3. This was in Aura, and she lives in Colorado Springs, according to the letter. She could have easily gone to traffic court.

        We only have her word that she even asked.

  4. Once again personal responsibility is completely absent. She says the fire lane was not clearly marked, indicating that it was marked and, for some reason, the LW decided that did not apply to her. And because a hotel employee, according to the LW, said it was okay to park on the side of the hotel, she chose that place to park and ignored the fact it was “not clearly marked” as a fire lane. How long was the street on the side of the hotel? Was all of it a fire lane or did she think one area of it was mysteriously available just for her? She is responsible and she should have paid.

    1. I expect most jurisdictions also have a time limit as to how long one can park on the street even in an approved parking area. From what I understand, in many cases it is 72 hours. You simply can’t park on the street for weeks.

      1. I know that to be true as we got a ticket when we did not move my spouse’s car for 4 days once in Shreveport LA. We used my car and left his in front of our apartment. An expensive learning experience.

  5. America; Land of the Free….from personal responsibility.

    Who cares if the hotel didn’t respond, it’s clearly her fault.

  6. What curb could it possibly be? Look at google street map. It could only be a city street as the hotel property is way inside the public roadway.
    There are a lot of parking spaces within the hotel property. The LW’s version of the story does not make sense after you see a map of the property. She clearly parked wrong.

      1. Really? Did you even look at the map, Chris?
        I would have asked her to point where she parked on the map first.
        If it was on the city street, I would have told her to take a hike.
        ADDED: If she blocked a fire lane, then I would have even scolded her 🙂

        1. I’m not sure if that would have worked. This was really about a promise made by a hotel representative — one that wasn’t honored. Had they told her to take a hike after getting the ticket, I wouldn’t have come near this case.

          1. As I’ve said, when the hotel did not have a space they should have refunded her money on the spot and told her to go park at the airport. Problem solved (problem avoided, actually).

          2. Sorry, it sounds more like she parked in the closest spot she could find and then went inside and said, “is it okay if I park on the curb?” Unless she took the hotel employee outside and showed him where she parked and then he said okay, I say no way. On top of that, she paid for one night and stayed two weeks. She is in the wrong even if she had parked in the approved lot. Sounds like sneaky way to get around paying for parking at the airport unless that is a standard way of doing business at airport hotel parking lots.

          3. Park/stay/fly is a program where the hotel knows you are going on a multi-day trip and they are letting you park your car there for a fee. I think each hotel has a limit on the number of days you can park there, but when I made myreservation in June I was clear that I would be parked there for two weeks, and they said that was fine. I paid $10 extra.

          4. I don’t know if that’s a “life hack”, “smart travel hack”, or just a “hack”?

            I think I’m just jealous I didn’t think of it first.

          1. Nice sleuthing. So let me see if I’m understanding this correctly.

            I should have gone to Google Street View and pulled up photos from … well, we don’t know when they were taken … and showed these to the Troop.

            I should have scolded her for parking in a “no parking” zone and told her she must have been making up the story about the manager promising a refund.

            Then I should have told her to accept responsibility for her own actions and invited her to take a hike. (After all, it’s Colorado. Plenty of good hiking.)

          2. No, Chris, I have not said any of that. I simply looked and posted what I found.

            However, in response to your “let me see …”

            In spite of what the manager said, the signs are clearly visible so it is reasonable to expect the LW to see them and ask.

            And the hotel has been there for about 12 years (according to them). IMO, it is highly likely that the signs (and certainly the hydrant) were there from the beginning. The street is too narrow for parking.

            What you should have done I can’t say. I assume you’re joking about most of it. You acted in good faith, believing what the LW told you, and with Econolodge not giving their side of the story.

            Finally, I have parked in that area multiple times to catch the RTD shuttle. Plenty of parking at the shuttle location. The LW could have inquired about a refund and parked there.

          3. Sorry — I should have posted my reply further up the thread instead of as a response to you. I think Tony was suggesting a few of these steps, so they were more for him. See, you’re not the only one with technology issues today.

          4. Understood, and thanks. I do hope the LW reads this article, as she can gain some insight for future travel.

          5. This is all well and good, but the Manager TOOK the ticket and said he would pay it. There lies the issue. Had he told her tough luck, then I agree with you all with the sleuthing. But he took the ticket from her, so as far as I am concerned Chris did nothing wrong taking the case. And he has made himself “unavailable” through all of this which to me proves guilt on his part. He never should have taken the ticket from her.

          6. I never said that Chris did anything wrong. In fact, I stated “You acted in good faith, believing what the LW told you, and with Econolodge not giving their side of the story”.

            But, in this case, as with all post mortems that we do here, it’s good to check and see if the LW missed anything and point that out. It helps Chris and the LW (if he/she reads this article) to point out any steps that were missed and/or best practices to prevent this issue from recurring.

          7. Is there real proof of this? Did she even record the name of the manager. Or, did she throw the ticket in his face out of disgust? “Here @@$h0le you pay for it!”, then left. This kind of behavior is more consistent with people who park in front of fire hydrants or block fire lanes. They think they are special (just because the paid for parking).

          8. If you use Bing Maps and take a look at the Northern side of the hotel and driveway entry you will see a different picture.
            There is another hydrant inside the hotel driveway near the pedestrian walk way (lane) and the curbs near the hotel entrance are painted RED.

            I would not be surprised that someone called the Fire Department about her illegally parked her and the PD came to ticket her. I would have done it (call the police) if I saw her car illegally parked. Since the car has been there for 2 weeks, I wouldn’t be surprised if hotel security knew what was going on and told the manager about it. I do not believe her story. For me it is BS.

          9. I’m with you it’s a scam, and she won. She probably rationalized that the ticket would still be less than paying for parking at the airport, so she’s ahead even under the worst case scenario.

          10. New discovery. There are more pictures!
            The hotel entrance is actually in the North side of the property.
            There is another driveway there with a hydrant way inside the property (or road).
            Also the gutter near the hotel entrance is painted RED (sure sign of fire lane in my book). There are signs posted on the side of the entrance but I cannot read them.

          11. Yeah, she just conned Chris into getting the motel to pay her ticket. She knew she couldn’t park there, asked or didn’t ask the clerk and figured even in the end if she had to pay the ticket it would have been cheaper than parking at the airport. Then she came up with this story and rolled the dice, seems she won.

          12. That’s why evil wins, good insists on playing fair. Why get a doctor to write a medical excuse letter when you can make your own. Why ask a clerk to confirm parking, or ask a manager to pay the ticket. You can just claim they said whatever you need them to say.

          13. The cost of proving liars and cheats here are quite high.
            Saliva and keystrokes are cheap and almost free.
            Going against the popular belief is hard because you have an uphill battle to prove your point.
            This one did not even pass my smell test the first time I read it.

          14. That’s the second reason evil wins, good has burdens of proof, evil (like presidents) just exercises executive power, (or in the case of presidents “prosecutorial discretion”).

            What manager agrees to pay a ticket without even talking to the employee who authorized the supposed parking in the first case. As I wrote before, she must have been wearing an awfully short skirt, to have distracted the manager that much.

            Haha, what do you mean “almost” free?

          15. But we still don’t know where she parked and what the markings (pavement/signs) were. In the absence of these, it’s impossible to know with certainty that she is at fault.

          16. The cops issued her a summons. If she does not contest it, under the law she is at fault. What is there to doubt?
            You mean the cops issued her an incorrect ticket?
            Doubt it. Why would they enter the hotel lot just to do this?

          17. That she was parked in a fire lane is not in question. She has stated so. Also not in question is the ticket from law enforcement.

            What remains unknown: was the fire lane clearly marked at the spot where she parked, was she indeed told to park by the curb, and did the manager offer the pay for the ticket? Since we do not know, and never will, none of us can state with certainty that this is a scam or even the LW’s fault.

            That’s all I’m saying …

          18. I think you’re getting a lot of unfair pressure here. This is not based on a hotel clerk telling someone a bad place to park resulting in the LW getting cited. This is a commitment to pay a ticket which didn’t have to be made but hasn’t been kept.

          19. Agreed. Nonetheless, the LW had a number of red flags that should have given her pause and reason to ask questions: narrow street, no parking signs, and a fire hydrant.

          20. We don’t really know if there was a commitment to pay the ticket. Just because the LW says there isn doesn’t make it so.

          21. Chris, I don’t believe you did anything wrong. Since she got a ticket for parking in a fire lane, the only logical place she could’ve parked was inside the hotel parking lot where the side view of the white van and silver and black SUVs are (or to the rear of the hotel where a similar situation exists). Those aren’t designated spaces. If she’d parked in the street as others claim she would’ve gotten a ticket for illegal parking or obstructing a roadway.

          22. We don’t know when the pic was taken, if it was recent then the paint may very well be in response to the ticket she got. All the other views show no red paint, so it hasn’t been there forever. All of which is really absolutely irrelevant since she was told she coukd park there and the manager agreed to pay for the ticket.

            For a guy who posts on a consumer advocate site you certainly do go out of you way to argue against the consumer.

          23. In her explanation she says that she parked at the curb and asked an employee if it was ok. In your response you say that she was told to park there by an employee. Your narrative is not what happened, it was her choice to park there, not the motel’s choice to have her park there.

        1. If you look at the picture closely, you see a row of cars parked next to the building ( you can see the trunk of one very clearly) and a side view of a white van, and a black and silver SUV. The van and SUVs are in the hotel parking lot, but next to a curb and not designated as spots. Since she got a ticket for parking in a fire lane, and not one for illegal parking or blocking a roadway, it’s logical to assume she parked like the van and SUVs. Not sure how well that was marked as a fire lane – there are no fire lane markings on the overhead view but there may have been small signs , but the picture clearly shows she wasn’t the only one to do so.

    1. I believe she parked inside the hotel property, but near a curb and not in a designated space. If you look at the top down view on Google you see a row of parking, a lane, and a curb. Since she was ticketed for parking in a fire lane this is the logical conclusion. One of the images Google took me to when I checked it showed a lot of cars parked along the curbs to the front and rear of the hotel, so it seems she may not be the only one who parked there.

      1. Hence the reason why park at the curb is consistent. You can see it from the second picture I posted.
        But part at the curb does not mean block the fire hydrant (the one in the first picture).

        1. True, but that is a separate citation. She wasnt ticketed for blocking a fire hydrant. She was ticketed for blocking a fire lane. They’re two different violations.

          1. Check the Aurora Colorado Municipal Code

            (b) Paragraph 7-6-13(a)(10) (concerning parking in a fire lane), Paragraph 7-6-13(b)(2) (concerning parking within five feet of a fire hydrant) …

            So she objected to “clearly marked fire lane”. OK so why not go to court and argue in front of the Judge and not here in Elliott.

          2. The code clearly shows its two separate violations for parking in a fire lane and parking near a hydrant. A fire lane is designed to allow access for fire vehicles, no more and no less. It may have a hydrant, it may not. There is certianly no requiremnt for it to have one. If she parked near a hydrant she would’ve gotten a ticket for that, not parking in a fire lane. I don’t doubt for a minute she was parked in a fire lane. The question is, was it marked properly? Given the number of cars that are shown parked there, it may not have been, or the signage may have been obstructed by vegetation, etc. It’s the property’s responsibility to ensure their signage is in compliance with the law. Given the cars shown there, the night clerk permission, and the managers reaction, there is a disconnect somewhere. Hopefully the property has rectified this or plans to do so soon.

          3. All important issues she could have and should have brought up at trial. None of that is the hotels fault or responsibility they don’t have the authority to authorize anyone to violate city ordinances. She’s a Colorado driver in Colorado, those rules are part of the driving examination process.

  7. The last time we did a Stay, Park and Fly we took pictures of the car as it would be there for a week. Only takes 2 minutes but provides evidence of it’s condition prior to and after the trip.

    Since the LW’s car was parked on the street, she could have (and perhaps should have) taken pictures of the curb area as well.

    A small investment for a lot of protection …

    1. I always take pictures of my own car too, but mostly so I can see if someone else damaged it when I get back. Or when in the airport lot instead of the hotel, so I can remember where I parked.

    2. Does the hotel guarantee your car won’t be damaged? Unless that’s written down somewhere, taking photos is pointless. The hotel is going to tell you to go pound salt if you come back to a dented car.

        1. That’s the common law. It only applies if a jurisdiction has not codified the innkeeper’s rights and responsibility. I suspect most jurisdictions have done so.

  8. Was there a section of the curb that was not a fire lane? I’m guessing there was. Looking at the pictures Tony posted below, I’m going to guess that the one section of curb she parked at was where the fire hydrant was. This is usually NOT marked as a fire lane, but it’s illegal to park at or near a hydrant no matter what color the curb is or isn’t or if there is a sign or not.

  9. Haven’t we seen this case already? This looks like a story from about a year ago with the LW parking on the street and the hotel manager promising to pay the ticket.

        1. You mean there’s some form of document that presents global, regional, and local events and information in a well organized format, and is then printed on some form of fibrous sheet? I’d patent that real quick, before the word gets out.

  10. While I voted yes … There’s no way I’m paying Econlodge to park on a city street. If there’s no space in the morning when I get ready to leave, they’re refunding me the parking fee.

    1. This is probably the reason they paid up after CE wrote them.
      If they want to continue offering that service, then they have to guarantee a parking spot.

    2. Then you’d be screwed, the parking fee is often only $10-$20 which for a two week stay is the cheapest parking you’re going to find compared to anywhere near the airport.

  11. The manager error was telling he will pay the ticket. The subsequent Houdini act just shows he made a mistake and won’t honor his word.

    But… LW is also wrong. She parked in a prohibited spot. It’s driver obligation to check the surroundings to make sure it is OK. And come on, let the car in the street for two weeks? There weren’t any available spot at the parking lot at morning?
    Even it it wasn’t prohibited, the curb is supposed to be less safer than a park lot.

  12. Didn’t this run somewhere else previously? I could swear I’ve seen it before. Sticks in my mind because I used to know someone by almost the same name (different spelling of the surname).

  13. What I didn’t see made clear is was the space she parked still on the hotel’s property? If she left the car for 2 weeks, wouldn’t you have to leave the key’s with the hotel so they can move the car into it’s long time parking?

    It sounds more like operational error on the part of the hotel. Why sell more spots then you actually have without a plan in place to deal with it? Is it a hotel or is it a parking lot? Why is poor operational standards on the part of the hotel a reason to pile on to a guest a guest & parker who was left to deal with it herself? And lastly… what were the other options? When the lot is full, is there a designated overflow space? Is it farther and she wasn’t feeling like walking? Does an overflow space not exist?

    All of those factors would absolutely play into the final decision.

        1. Guess they are all different. I just posted my experiences with them. I personally would feel uncomfortable leaving my keys with a stranger. Why would they have to move your car once you are parked in a designated spot?

          1. You aren’t given a designated spot when you check in. This is the busiest Park n Fly hotel at SFO. They do an amazing amount of business, and depending on your length of stay, where you initially park by your room, they may or may not move the car. We have used this hotel for scores of stays and have not issue with leaving our key. We don’t leave anything of value inside, just like I don’t when I get my car washed. Years ago a friend’s car was broken into at this hotel and the hotel covered the damage.

          2. At the hotel we use, what are they going to with my car? Since it is their policy to keep the key, pretty easy to figure things out. We don’t leave anything with our address on it in the car and use our company address for everything, so not worried. We take our coffee maker to the hotel and leave it in the car in the morning plus our dirty clothes. I always have the second with me attached to a carry one bag on the inside, just in case. That bag is small and goes with me during the day.

    1. When the spots are all taken, this particular hotel asks people to park along their curb, however this is the curb within the property along the side of the hotel. Perhaps the OP mis-understood and parked along the street curb, rather than the curb inside the parking lot along the side of the hotel.

          1. I’m curious how you know for certain that “this particular hotel asks people to park along their curb”

          2. Thank you. It also seems possible that she parked along the hotel’s curb then, but in a fire lane that was not clearly marked, resulting in the ticket.

          3. That could be the case too. I though it said she parked on the street, but I re-read and it didn’t. I don’t think the city would have written a ticket though if she was on the hotels property, but maybe they still did.

          4. I wondered too, so I found a case on FlyerTalk where the police did. On further reflection, that makes sense, because parking in ANY fire lane would be ticketable.

          5. That’s good to know. I was at a hotel once where someone parked in a handicapped spot and I told the hotel and they told me to call the police, and the police told me its a private space and up to the hotel to patrol. But I suspect it was just lazy police, or the fire lane is more important than a handicapped spot.

          6. My 40-year-old HOA discovered a couple years ago that our clearly marked fire lanes — painted yellow as per local regs, with signs at the beginning and end of the streets — weren’t actually enforceable legally because the signs did not have a fire department sticker on the back and because there weren’t signs at some distance interval I don’t recall. It’s all been rectified, of course, but my point is that it’s possible that a lane might not be enforceable if it’s not following every mandated condition.

      1. One would think that this was common sense. The hotel’s premise is private property. Outside that ain’t.
        If Elliott simply asked the LW to tell him where she parked then the rest of the story is moot because they seem to be unbelievable (at least to me). Where is the proof the hotel manager agreed to pay for the ticket? Is that another stretch of the truth like in poorly unmarked fire lane.

  14. I voted no. If someone tells me to break the law, I am still not going to break the law. I remember my mom telling me as a kid when I wanted to do something because my friends were all doing it, “If all your friends jumped off the Brooklyn Bridge would you want to do it too?”

    And we don’t know if the hotel employee said specifically to park in the fire lane, In fact I doubt they said to park in the fire lane. There are a lot of curbs around the hotel that they do let people park in, most of them are not a fire lane, and most of them are not marked as spots, but they specifically allow people to park there. I know this first hand as I have been there, and parked there.

    There is no excuse for the hotel’s poor communications, and I am glad they made things right in the end, but I still think the OP is responsible for their choice.

    1. I remember serving on jury duty once. We could park in several areas with our juror parking pass past the posted limit. However, these spaces could be unavailable. The sheriffs deputy serving as our bailiff said that in that case we could just park anywhere reasonable (no disabled spaces, street sweeping, red curbs, or hydrants) and she would get the tickets fixed. One morning I parked at a meter all day without paying and just handed her the ticket in the morning. That was oddly liberating to have a parking ticket fixed.

      1. It’s amazing what people with badges can do for you. I feel very fortunate to have several friends with TMP, who have “assisted” on a couple occasions.

          1. No, those are SoCal’ers or SF’ers. In NorCal anything goes. BIG difference in dress with both men and women. We have a game on the weekends that is like Tag for visitors. They stand out like sore thumbs as they dress to the nines to come to ‘wine country’.

          2. Wouldn’t know, never been outside of SoCal except when going through LAX. We dress smart in SD though, like grownups, theres a reason we call LA the sandbox, it’s where all the kids play.

            Stop calling it wine country, it’s a farm that grows grapes. Most of the wineries are basically corporate processors, who simply spin an estate winery off as a “brand”.

          3. Got family in SAN and one kid lived in PB for awhile. Flip flops are still the State shoe down there 🙂 We call SoCal LALA land. SAN isn’t part of it, of course.

  15. I’m betting the manager thought she was parked legally when she got the ticket so was willing to help. As soon as it was clear the LW had parked in a no parking zone, there’s no reason for the hotel to accept liability for it, promise or no. The only sucky thing the hotel did was dodge telling her the truth about changing their minds.

    And the LW is darned lucky the car was still there when she got back. It should have been towed if it was illegally parked for two weeks!

    Let’s assume that the Google Map street view is outdated, and a bad winter and pushy snowplow scraped the paint from the curb and knocked down the signs. Poorly marked fire lanes are an issue for the LW to take up with the city, NOT the hotel, and that’s where her complaint should have been aimed. But it’s easier to pressure a hotel into cutting a check in the name of “good will” than it is to get a government official to acknowledge the city is in the wrong. She’d have to drive 75 minutes out of her way to go take some pictures of the parking spot and take the issue up with the courts? Lots of people commute that distance every day for work, so I’m not crying for her inconvenience. It’s not like the car was parked in the next state over. She needed to step up and take responsibility for her own mistake, whether she got someone else to promise to pay for it or not.

    Your powers were used for evil this week, Chris.

  16. A larger issue is why did the manager not respond? Ducking the problem, obviously. But always unavailable when calling the motel? Such cowards do not deserve to have a manager title or salary.

    1. Anyone want to bet money on Econo using the common employee tactic of “call first available coworker a manager to get the annoyed customer out of the lobby”?

      A real manager should definitely have called her back, even if only to tell her to take a hike… right over to the traffic court to address the correct people.

  17. By the way, Chris, the poll question for today is where I think some people are getting skewed from the point I think you’re focusing on.

    “Should Econo have paid the parking fee?” The choices you offer are about the employee telling her she could park there, not whether a manager told her he’d pay for the ticket. I get the impression that it’s your opinion that if the manager said he’d take care of the ticket, then the LW was absolved of any obligation on her part to be a responsible driver. The manager’s promise wouldn’t have even been an issue if the LW hadn’t parked illegally in the first place. In this train wreck, the LW was the one most at fault.

  18. She really should have moved the car in the morning, it would have taken 5 mins. Not paying attention and far from clued in hotel staff created a lot of problems.

  19. And if the clerk had said to park in the fountain?… Sounds a lot like the folks who drive into a river because their navigation device told them to. At some point you, as a driver, have to decide that you are simply not comfortable with the instructions you’ve been given.

  20. If, as the story says, she popped in to talk to the manager after she paid the ticket, why did she not also look to see if the spot where she parked was truly not clearly marked? If it was not clearly marked, I’d’ve taken a picture and sent it to the police department and asked for my $150 back. How did the hotel employee know which curb she was parked? And, why was she parked there for two weeks when she said she paid for a one night stay. Too much of this story does not make sense.

  21. It sounds to me, fire lanes aside, that the hotel should not be selling parking spaces it doesn’t have. If the hotel did not have the space she paid for, it should have refunded her money on the spot and she then could have parked at the airport.

    1. I used park/stay/fly on my last trip. The long term parking at my airport is expensive, and the rate on the hotel was such that I could stay the night before my 6am flight, pay the extra $10 for the parking, and still be ahead on costs. If the LW had intended to stay the night there, if the hotel refunded the entire rate and asked her to find another hotel, that would stink because maybe she couldn’t find a new hotel last minute; if the hotel only refunded the incremental amount for the parking and asked the LW to park at the shuttle lot, that would also stink because maybe the whole reason she did park/stay/fly in the first place is because it was cheaper in the end, and now she not only had to pay for the shuttle parking but also the night at the hotel, where if she knew she was going to have to park in the shuttle lot anyway, why waste the money on a hotel room.

      I do agree on points readers raised in this thread, that one, the hotel shouldn’t offer more spaces to park/stay/fly then they can have available for long-term parking, and two, for goodness sakes lady, get up ten minutes earlier and go move the car in the morning.

      1. Parking spaces at hotels can get filled if more than one car per room comes in and that does happen. However, the hotel needs to have a way to deal with this.

  22. I agree she should not have parked in that spot in the first place; I’m shocked that she wasn’t towed. She was placed in a very bad position by the hotel – she relied on the space she paid for being available and when it wasn’t still had to catch a flight. The real issue is the hotel: A. charged her to park and then had no spot for her to park, and B. (most importantly) took the ticket and said they would pay it. This is a case where the customer isn’t exactly right, but because they made two agreements with her: one to provide a parking spot and two (most importantly) to pay the ticket.

  23. No one is right here. She was wrong for parking in a no parking zone. However she asked the motel to pay. They said OK, when they didn’t pay they were in the wrong. As Chris said if they had told her no when she asked they would not have had any responsibility.

  24. I’ve seen many hotels in US urban areas where hotel employees “control” curbside parking on the block in front of the hotel despite the presence of no-parking signs. The police will ticket unauthorized vehicle, but will ignore those with hotel claim checks on the dash. If a hotel parking guy told me to “temporarily” leave my car in one of these spaces, I would do so.

  25. I’m actually rather surprised the car hadn’t been towed away already. I would guess they might have gotten lucky and not received the ticket until quite a ways into the 2-week window. Otherwise I think it might have been already towed as an abandoned vehicle.

    1. I looked it up, and Aurora, CO has a specific definition of “abandoned vehicle”. They give 7 days if it appears to be inoperable and 21 days otherwise. Not sure about the county, but I looked it up and Aurora is actually in two counties, although it has “home rule” which I suppose means that parts of city code overrule county ordinances..

      Almost every city and/or county around here has a 72 hour limit regardless of whether or not it’s considered “abandoned”. I’ve seen warning signs, and once when I had to deal with the police, the woman in front of me was trying to get her car back after it had been towed.

  26. First, kudos to emanon for pointing out that this Econolodge does tell people to park at the curb by the hotel and inside the hotel parking lot.

    I located a picture for the hotel’s web page. Notice the curb where cars would be able to park. Also, I located a definition for a fire lane:

    In urban areas in the United States, a fire lane is a marked lane in a parking lot that is near a structure or, in New York City, a traffic lane marked “Fire Lane” that runs along the centre of a street. Parking is prohibited in fire lanes to ensure the access of safety equipment to the structure in the event of an emergency[citation needed]. Fire lanes are defined as passageways or access roads that allow fire apparatuses to pass through. They are not intended for normal vehicle traffic. There are certain requirements that must be met when designing a fire lane. Because fire trucks and other apparatuses are so large, there must be certain accommodations made for them.

    So, it now seems clearer to me that:

    – A designated fire lane does NOT require the presence or proximity of a hydrant
    – The fire lane is likely “marked” on the pavement and may indeed be so faded that the LW had difficulty recognizing it
    – Police can ticket for fire lane violations even on private property (found an instance on FlyerTalk)
    – The LW likely parked at the curb inside the parking lot and not on the street (I believe I was mistaken in my earlier statements)

    1. A fire lane is interned to give fire trucks acess to a building. Fire hydrants really don’t have anything to do with their designation. Typically they’re marked with pavement markings but signage can be used too.

      1. Re: Fire hydrants really don’t have anything to do with their designation.

        Really? Truly?

        Aurora, Colorado …

        Fire Lanes

        Approved sign

        Following are some of the conditions of a fire lane; call the Fire Prevention Bureau for more detail at (630) 256-4130.

        Site Map showing location of Fire Lane Signs and Fire Hydrants.

        Fire Lane Sign: Minimum sign size of 12″ X 18″. Red letters. Must state “FIRE LANE” “NO PARKING ANYTIME” “$50 FINE” (International No Parking graphic may be used).

        Signs required at start and end of each Fire Lane that is non-contiguous.

        Additional signs will be required for visibility. Signs must not be more than 150′ apart.

        Curbs or edge of pavement to be painted red for length of fire lane.

        Fire Hydrants to have curbs painted yellow or a sign on post stating “Fire Hydrant.”

        1. Not sure what you’re getting at here. The blurb explains how to mark hydrants and fire lanes. Take it from the person doing parking designs for 18 years…the two may be colocated but don’t have to be. It’s entirely possible to have a fire lane but no hydrant directly in it.

          1. I am trying to figure out how a person could miss the fire lane or fire hydrant. I had successfully argued in my own city to have them require a nearby house to move a piece of equipment because the fire department agreed with my complaint against sufficient egress and ingress to the property.

            Seems to me she is arguing that the fire lane was not clearly marked. However, common sense and decency tells me that the purpose of these rules are to allow a fire truck to get in and out of the property and have access to the hydrant in case of an emergency. Anyone who does not care or understand that does not deserve to be helped by an advocate.

          2. I probably would’ve done so. However, the property offered to pay her ticket. Maybe she thought it wsnt worth the hassle in that case. As far as parking in a fire lane, there are a variety of reasons she could’ve legitimately missed it. Vegetation covering the signage, poor lighting, missing signs, etc. I can easily see how she thought it was ok, especially if others parked there and the clerk told her it was ok. As to the hydrant, not sure why you’re fixated on that. The distances do vary from area to area on how far you can park from one but as she didn’t get a ticket for obstructing it I’ve got to think she didn’t park near it. Again, the mere presence of a hydrant does not indicate a fire lane.

  27. To all the posters who a are claiming she parked on the curb of the street – remember she got a ticket for parking in a fire lane. Not for illegal parking or roadway obstruction. So where did she park? If you look at the image I took from Google maps below, you can clearly see designated parking spots inside the hotel property and two long curbs to the front and rear of the property where numerous other vehicles have parallel parked. I believe this, likely the lane to the rear right next to the building, is where she parked. It’s the only logical conclusion based on the type of ticket she got. I don’t know how well it was marked as a fire lane but obviously she wasn’t the only one to park there.

          1. The only other thing I can suggest is to try to refresh the page. I did that and all the pictures I couldn’t see before popped up.

      1. Now that is a legitimate question. Could be she just got unlucky and was the only one left there when the cops pulled through, though. Sometimes timing is everything,

  28. She broke the law, why help her?

    Is this really consumer advocacy? Really determining who should pay for a parking ticket? This is pretty disgusting!

    7-6-13. Stopping or Parking Prohibited in Specified Places. Go to the top

    (a) No vehicle may be stopped or parked:

    (1) On a sidewalk or within the sidewalk area. For the purposes of this section, the far edge of a sidewalk parallel and adjacent to a roadway is presumed to be the property line;

    (2) Within an intersection;

    (3) On a crosswalk;

    (4) On a roadway in such a manner or under such conditions as to leave available fewer than ten feet of width of the roadway of an alley or seven feet from the centerline of a street with no double center line for the free movement of vehicular traffic or on a roadway that has a marked double yellow centerline, unless ten feet of clearance between the parked vehicle and the centerline exists;

    (5) Upon any bridge or other elevated structure upon a street or within a street tunnel or underpass;

    (6) On or within five feet of any railroad tracks;

    (7) On any street with two or more lanes for moving traffic in both directions or on any state highway, unless otherwise signed or marked as an area where parking is allowed;

    (8) In the area between the roadways of a divided street, including crossovers;

    (9) On a bike lane or path;

    (10) In a clearly marked fire lane;

    (11) At any place on a street where a traffic control sign prohibits stopping; or

    (12) Within the sidewalk area, except that a single vehicle may be stopped or parked at a right angle to the street within the sidewalk area on a paved driveway connecting a curb cut with an area of permitted off-street parking of a detached dwelling unit if no part of such vehicle is over or in the street or sidewalk and the driver has the express or implied permission of an occupant of the dwelling served by such driveway so to park. This exception applies only to driveways which were in existence on September 1, 1988.1 For the purposes of this subsection, the far edge of a sidewalk parallel and adjacent to a roadway is the property line.

    (b) No vehicle may be parked:

    (1) On a roadway in or within five feet of a public or private driveway or junction;

    (2) When a fire hydrant is within ten feet of the curb, on a roadway within five feet of that point on the curb closest to the hydrant;

    (3) On a roadway within twenty feet of a crosswalk or intersection;

    (4) On a roadway within thirty feet of any flashing beacon or signal, stop sign, yield sign or traffic control signal located at the side of the roadway;

    (5) Within fifty feet of the nearest rail of a railroad grade crossing;

    (6) In a bus stop;

    (7) At any place on a street where a traffic control sign prohibits parking; or

    (8) In a manner that obstructs the commencement or ongoing operation of a public construction, maintenance or repair project or a street closure, after seventy-two hours’ advance notice of the parking prohibition and the time it is effective has been conspicuously posted and reasonable efforts have been made to maintain notice on the site.

    (c) The provisions of this section are limited or modified by and are expressly subject to any parking meter, pay station or traffic control device regulating stopping or parking a vehicle.

    Ordinance Nos. 5156 (1988); 5241 (1989); 5920 (1997); 7190 (2002); 7294 (2003); 7824 (2012)

    1. I feel Chris should help her. She paid for a Park-n-Fly package. If there were no parking spaces available and the hotel has the responsibility to have a spot for her car, and they approve where she parked, regardless of ‘the law’, they should cover this. I have used Park-n-Fly packages at various hotels over the years. Where we could or couldn’t park has always been very clear. If they didn’t have a spot, they took care of it for us.

        1. The hotel should have told her, too. We have been instructed by hotels of where to park that were illegal, but allowed by the hotel and police.

          1. What about all the “NO PARKING” signs on the road. Since when do desk clerks have authority to exempt people from laws?

          2. I don’t think she parked outside of the hotel property (meaning on the road) since that would have subject her to towing.
            Looks like she parked inside the property next to a fire lane or too near a hydrant. There is no excuse for this even if you paid the hotel for parking. You cannot park in a fire lane, period. Who does she think she is?

          3. She’s a Colorado Springs girl which means she thinks she’s decedent of Helen of Troy and the Queen of Sheba. Colorado city girls are all Californians who needed an excuse to wear Ugg’s and riding boots year round, and can’t drive in the Golden Coast state.

          4. Colorado woman love them their English riding boots and Uggs. Its more fashionable to wear riding boots than stilettos. Yoga pants, riding boots and neck scarves. It’s Parisian meets Manhattan, meets Cali.

          5. You must be from North Cali, in SD around mission and imperial beach we use Cali and SoCal.

            The boots are the Parisian thing, and stilettos are the Cali state shoe. Girls wear them to the beach.

          6. Now you’ve done it your not supposed to discuss the Cali Lexicon with foreigners. Always use “Cali” in public forums, do you want the outsiders to find out???

          7. Sometimes the no parking sign is paid for by the business. I wouldn’t have parked on the street and made them find us a spot on their lot since it was a Park and Fly rate.

          8. Even if the no parking signs are paid for by the business, that doesn’t mean you get to ignore the law (or color of law). If they are illegal signs contact the ward office.

          9. You can often tell if a no parking sign is put up by the government or a business. Government no parking signs usually reference the municipal code.

            A no parking sign by a business may or may not be enforceable.

  29. Another funny one. How naive do you have to be to leave your car outside the hotel parking lot while you are away? But since the hotel manager took the ticket and said he’d pay it, the hotel owes her the money. Steve is right, move the stupid car in the morning INTO THE LOT. But where would Chris be without these dopes? And where would we be without these amusing, entertaining and informative emails?

    1. We only have the LW’s word that the manager agreed to pay the ticket. I can’t imagine any manager in the Denver area voluntarily agreeing to do such a thing. She says the desk clerk said it was okay, she leaves for 2 weeks and then the manager says he’ll take care of the bill just like that? How short was her skirt when she asked?

  30. I think a lot of people, including everyone who voted “no”, are missing the most important point. It doesn’t matter where Linda parked. She could have parked in front of a flashing neon sign that said “no parking” and it still wouldn’t matter.

    Econo Lodge should pay simply because they took her ticket and said they would pay it. Like Mr. Elliott wrote, “a promise is a promise”.

      1. Maybe I’d be more skeptical if Econo Lodge had denied making the offer. Instead, they paid, which lends credibility to her story.

        1. Given that particular area, I’m reasonably sure there are some legal issues and constraints that are causing them to keep silent the issue.

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