I had to read this article three times to determine what good ole Tacoma was doing with their parking program. Finally I got it.
Kurtis Kingsolver, the city’s engineering division manager, walked through a presentation of the latest enforcement numbers. From January through March, parking enforcers wrote 5,095 tickets for nonpayment, up from 1,368 between October and December (the city launched the enforcement program Sept. 20).
Tickets for expired parking receipts quadrupled in the same span – from 678 to 2,735. Conversely, warnings dropped by more than half – from 11,179 to 4,283.
“We’re trying not to be what people perceive us as being,” Kingsolver said Tuesday. “We’re backing off. The idea is not to go out there and give citations because we can.”
The idea behind the parking program is improving access for customers of local businesses and discouraging all-day parking by employees. On that front, Kingsolver said, the program is paying dividends. Citations for “continuous” parking have dropped, leaving more space for customers, who typically pay 75 cents per hour for parking.
Hmmm – I don’t understand how these numbers are considered “backing off” but oh well… I am also concerned a tad about one merchant’s reaction and the issue of “fair and consistent enforcement:”
There is no listing for “failures” on July’s scheduled overview. Madison Leago, owner of Vamp Salon and Spa on 1117 Broadway downtown, could provide some examples from the past few days. Leago’s mother visited the salon last week and got a ticket for putting a valid parking sticker on her dashboard instead of the driver’s window. One salon customer, frustrated by a parking meter that wouldn’t read a bank card after multiple attempts, stepped into the salon to get change for the meter, walked back outside and found a ticket on her windshield. Another customer mistakenly paid for one hour of time instead of two, realized she needed to add time, bought another sticker and stuck it to the window, and got ticketed for having two stickers instead of one. “It’s that kind of stuff,” Leago said. “It’s just happening all the time.”
I support the concept of parking as an economic development tool – making it easier for customers to park in the business areas – but I still believe there has to be a happy medium. Everyone is happy that the number of citations written has increased four fold in a three month period and of course the “warnings” plummeted.
My guess is that most people were getting warnings up until the new policy started and those warnings turned into citations. Fair enough. I have been a proponent of warnings, but with a string attached. That is, the city should track the warnings and after the first one, the driver receives a citation. I believe that after the (pick a number) second, third, or fourth citation, the vehicle should be booted or towed.
A program of graduated fines could also be instituted, (First fine, $15, Second $50, Third $75 Fourth Tow).
It looks to me like Tacoma has moved from very light enforcement to “bring the hammer down” enforcement. I’m sure it will help change the way people park in the business areas, but I’m not too certain how it has affected the frame of mind of the customers when they enter the merchants establishment. Brandy?