Friday, December 7, 2012
Doubling the parking fines in downtown Walla Walla should benefit the community.
Having to pay $10 for a parking ticket rather than $5 will be incentive enough for those who work downtown to park outside of the two-hour zone, which should free up more parking spaces for customers.
The higher fines also could bring in a few extra dollars for a city government that’s cash strapped.
But in addition to raising the fines the City Council should demand the two-hour downtown parking zone be better marked so folks from out of town or new to town know the parking rules.
Those who have lived in Walla Walla more than a few months often learn about the parking rules the hard way — with a parking ticket. Visitors, too, are enlightened with a citation under their wiper blades. A $5 lesson is an irritation, but a $10 lesson will be seen as closer to an outrage.
The current signs seem from our perspective to be placed sporadically throughout downtown. The boundaries of the zone are not crystal clear. We would urge more signs that spell out the two-hour parking rules and include the fines that will be levied.
The new fines, which will start Jan. 1, will double across the board. The $10 fine for the first offense in a 30-day period is only the beginning. A second offense goes to $30, a third $50, fourth and subsequent offenses will be $100.
These fines aren’t going to eliminate employees parking in the downtown shopping area. The two-hour shuffle — moving the car to another block every two hours — isn’t going anywhere. Many who have perfected their shuffle will continue.
Some — perhaps many — who now get six or so tickets a year because they forget to move on schedule will now park outside the two-hour zone. Spending $30 to $50 a year was tolerable, $60 to $100 or more will not be. The two-hour shuffle was reduced years ago when the parking fines were increased from $3.
Nobody likes getting parking fines, but the two-hour parking rule was enacted to ensure downtown businesses would have parking for customers. But to be fair, we urge the city to do a better job of alerting drivers they will be fined if they park in a space longer than two hours.