Downtown parking enforcement should step up in the next week with a newly hired city-parking liaison.
This week, the city hired Bruce Carta as a part-time parking attendant and part-time city ambassador. Working eight hours a day, five days a week, Carta will enforce parking laws more strictly than they have been in the past, Transportation Services Director George Krawzoff said.
The police department previously handled parking enforcement, but with a constant short staff, other more pressing issues have taken precedence over parking violations. The transportation department will take over parking enforcement and is funding Carta's position through its existing budget and revenue from parking tickets.
"Parking tended to become a lesser priority (for the police department)," Krawzoff said. "It is our top priority."
Krawzoff said it would take a few days for Carta to complete paper work and training, but he should be hitting the streets next week. Carta also will play the double role of being an information officer in the downtown public area.
The hiring of a parking enforcement officer is just one of the steps the city is taking to ease parking problems in the downtown area.
This winter, new signs were posted changing two-hour parking times. The two-hour restriction period has been shifted back two hours, from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. to 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. The change was designed to curtail evening-shift downtown employees from taking prime parking spots from shoppers and diners.
Before the change, Krawzoff said, evening-shift employees would park about 4 p.m. and stay there until their shifts were finished. When people came to restaurants for dinner, spaces already were taken.
But in the morning, parking was not a problem until the lunch hour, Krawzoff said, so starting the two-hour restriction later, at 10 a.m. and extending it to 8 p.m. just made sense.
A study done in March 1999 found employee vehicles accounted for two-thirds of downtown parking. The study also found that though nonrestricted public parking areas could accommodate the employee parking, the two-hour restricted parking was being used by employees during peak afternoon hours.
The two-hour parking restrictions are mainly along downtown Lincoln Avenue and its side streets and in downtown public parking lots.
Parking fines are not expected to increase. The first parking ticket costs about $10 and doubles with every subsequent offense.
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