Friday, January 20, 2006

Ketchum considers forming traffic authority

Express Staff Writer

Inconsistencies are cropping up between parking signs in Ketchum and the city's parking ordinance, resulting in motorists' confusion and the police department's inability to enforce some regulations.

The Ketchum City Council Tuesday, Jan. 17, discussed revisions to the parking ordinance, and the possible formation of a traffic authority.

Time limits on parking, designation of public parking spaces and other related matters require passage of a new ordinance.

But over the years, inconsistencies between the parking ordinance and signs posted on the streets have emerged, according to Ketchum city staff.

"The reality on the ground is not the same as set forth in the ordinance," said City Attorney Ben Worst.

One option to get signs in alignment with the law is to conduct a street-by-street inventory of signs, then draft a new ordinance.

But city leaders Tuesday expressed preference for another option: creation of a traffic authority that could administratively enact changes. Rules could be passed more quickly, the council said, because the process would bypass the ordinance process of public hearings, notification in local papers and three readings at council meetings.

Police Chief Cory Lyman said the current method to enact changes is far too time-consuming, and, when there are inconsistencies with the signs and the ordinance, his department can't issue citations.

The traffic authority might include the city administrator, police chief, a member of the planning department and the streets superintendent.

The City Council directed city staff to draft a text amendment to the current ordinance for the traffic commission's creation.

The issue may come before the council again at their Feb. 6 meeting.

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