The Saratoga Springs City Council is considering adopting a new “idling of engines” ordinance intended to improve the environment by reducing excess energy use and gas fumes.
“This has to do with environmental quality,” said city Public Safety Commissioner Chris Mathiesen.
The City Council will hold a public hearing on the proposed ordinance at 6:45 this evening in City Hall and possibly adopt the new section of the city code at the same meeting.
A group of Skidmore College students made a presentation to the City Council some months ago on ways the city could cut back on energy uses and reduce its carbon footprint.
One of these ideas was to pass an idling engines ordinance like those passed in some other cities in the United States.
“It restricts the amount of time people can have their engines running,” Mathiesen said. He introduced the proposed ordinance earlier this month.
The proposal says that a person cannot permit his or her car’s engine to idle in a public street or public place for more than five consecutive minutes.
The exceptions to this regulation include police, fire, public utility and other vehicles used in public service. Another exception is when a vehicle’s motor is left idling in order to maintain a temperature within the motor vehicle that “is reasonably necessary for the health of the motor vehicle’s driver and/or passengers.”
“We really do believe there is a lot of merit to it,” Mathiesen said. “We need to be more careful, we need to be more vigilant” about protecting the environment.
He said during the summer months people sit outside downtown restaurants to have their meals on a porch or deck. Having someone idling an engine nearby for long periods of time can spoil a person’s meal with noxious fumes.
Mathiesen said those violating the proposed ordinance would be ticketed by city police.
The council will also hold a public hearing at 6:40 p.m. today on proposed changes to city parking regulations related to the opening of the new four-deck parking garage on Woodlawn Avenue and the sale of the city lot next to Lillian’s Restaurant on Broadway.
The former city lot on Broadway is currently the site of construction of a four-story mixed-use building by Bonacio Construction.
The parking regulation amendments delete references to parking at the former city lot and three-hour parking along Woodlawn Avenue. Parking on the ground level of the Woodlawn parking garage, for example, is limited to two hours between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m..
The new regulations limit the amount of time a vehicle can be parked on the second through fourth levels of the new garage to 48 hours.