In Park City, the idling countdown could drop to just 60 seconds | ParkRecord.com

In Park City, the idling countdown could drop to just 60 seconds

Jay Hamburger THE PARK RECORD

Drivers in Park City would be required to be on the move in just 60 seconds should a City Hall effort to further combat idling be approved.

Park City in late 2010 enacted an anti-idling law as part of the municipal government’s broad environmental program. Mayor Jack Thomas and the Park City Council on Thursday are scheduled to discuss a proposal to tighten the law.

The anti-idling law now allows someone to idle a vehicle for up to three minutes at any time. Idling is also allowed without a time limit when the temperature outside is colder than 32 degrees Fahrenheit or hotter than 90 degrees Fahrenheit.

But staffers have asked the City Council to tighten both of the exceptions. The three-minute limit would be reduced to one minute if the proposal is passed. Staffers also want to eliminate the temperature allowance. If both of the proposals pass, a driver in Park City would not be allowed to leave a vehicle idling for more than a minute under most circumstances.

Public safety vehicles like police cars and fire engines that are required to run the engine to power equipment would be allowed to idle when responding to an emergency.

Other exceptions include when a vehicle is stuck in traffic and when turning off the engine would threaten the safety of someone inside the vehicle or a service animal that is inside. The law will continue to include an exception that allows someone to defrost windows and to operate heavy duty vehicles like buses. Drivers will continue to be allowed to idle a vehicle if doing so is specified by the manufacturer, such as to operate air-brake systems.

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A report submitted to the elected officials in anticipation of the meeting on Thursday recommends the Park City Police Department and parking employees increase enforcement of the municipal law against idling within the boundaries of state law. The report, drafted by Matt Abbott, the environmental project manager at City Hall, says "idling is wasteful and preventable."

Three warnings must be issued prior to a ticket being written under state law, the report says. Tickets are $30 for breaking City Hall’s anti-idling laws after the three warnings.

Abbott said in an interview Park City has never issued a ticket to someone violating the idling law. Officials, though, have sent 41 educational letters after someone was seen leaving a vehicle idling. He said City Hall usually receives idling complaints during the Sundance Film Festival. Traffic during the festival is some of the worst of the year and Park City sees an influx of taxis during Sundance.

"The primary goal is education, not writing tickets," Abbott said in an interview.

The law against idling was enacted as City Hall continued its environmental programs in an effort to combat a warming climate. Park City leaders worry that a warming climate could someday threaten the ski industry, which drives the city’s tourism-heavy economy.

The elected officials are scheduled to discuss the proposal at a meeting starting at 4 p.m. in the City Council chambers at the Marsac Building. The talk about potential changes to the law against idling is slated to start at approximately 5 p.m. and last 15 minutes. The mayor oftentimes allows public input even if a formal hearing is not scheduled.

The City Councilors could signal whether they are interested in the changes. If so, they would be asked at a later meeting to formally adopt the tighter rules. A hearing would be held before a vote.