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Man stunned to receive ticket after paying at a private parking lot

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Posted at 5:33 PM, Apr 01, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-01 20:33:11-04

A Michigan man said that when he went to a comedy show on Saturday, he returned to his car to find it had received a parking ticket while parked on a private lot.

He wasn't laughing. He said he had parked there legitimately.

"I pulled in the lot. Flagged in, actually flagged into the lot by a couple of guys. They said $20 parking. I gave the guy $20," Matt Wilkinson recalled.

He said, "Then I went to the show, I came back and I had a $50 ticket on my window."

The ticket wasn't from the City of Detroit. It was issued by Olympia Development which owns the lot. Wilkinson said he approached the woman he saw writing tickets.

He explained, "She said...'This lots closed sir.' I said... 'This lot is not closed. The entrances are wide open. A hundred other cars are sitting here with me. How is it closed?'"

The man said he was told to call the number on the back of the ticket to dispute it. Wilkinson said he's concerned that there's no signage indicating the lot's closed, and he said whoever collected his money when he parked must have been a scam artist.

After calling and emailing Olympia Development about the citation, Wilkinson said he received a phone call, an apology, and a free parking pass from the company.

Wilkinson said, "They say they voided all those tickets, but what happened last week, the week before they did that to people that didn't know?"

On Wednesday, construction workers showed up and started measuring the lot's perimeter. One said they're preparing to build a fence.

Can a private company issue parking tickets?

Olympia Development said in a statement:

"Occasionally, we issue citations for vehicles parked in spaces marked reserved for residents or tenants or restricted for other reasons. In this situation, our parking team mistakenly issued a citation," said Ed Saenz, Olympia Development of Michigan's Director of Communications.

Saenz said tickets issued that night were voided. A spokesperson for the City of Detroit said this is a private matter that has nothing to do with the city government or its municipal parking department.

Similar to a property owner being able to tow an illegally parked vehicle, a private parking lot can issue a citation. However, enforcement is another issue and may come in the form of small claims court.