Parking rate increase shot down

Enforcing the posted parking regulations in downtown Port Orchard is a job Police Chief Al Townsend hopes will get easier with time.

At last week’s city council meeting, the council voted against an ordinance that would have raised various parking fines and fees, although the fee increase was already written into the 2005 budget.

Because the increase in fees Townsend said he was told to prepare was rejected, the motion to form a resolution to raise parking rates downtown was not even honored with a second.

“They decided they’re not going to raise rates for law-abiding citizens after they decided not to raise fees for law-breakers,” Townsend said.

Townsend said the resolution will go back before the council without any parking rate changes because of other positive parking enforcement changes specific to the resolution.

The council did adopt an ordinance allowing vehicles parked illegally whose owner has at least four unpaid parking tickets over 90 days overdue to be towed at the owner’s expense.

To get the car back, the vehicle’s owner must prove he or she has paid their parking tickets.

Townsend said when the responsibility of parking enforcement was turned over to the police department last summer, he was told he would get a supervisor to help manage to excessive paperwork.

As it turns out, Townsend is doing most of the organization himself, with the help of patrolling Public Service Officers (PSO).

“Once we get settled in,” Townsend said, “it won’t be such a burden.”

Parking spaces downtown and in surrounding Port Orchard neighborhoods have become scarce since the county plowed under most of its visitor parking in order to start work on the new administration building.

Although alternative parking sites were set up, including one at Givens Community Center up the street, visitors and employees were used to parking closer to the courthouse and began to fill the surrounding neighborhoods, creating a constant headache for neighbors and parking enforcement officials.

Two temporary lots are located near the intersections of Sidney and Division and Austin and Taylor to help address the 91 spaces at the Kitsap County Courthouse that were lost one year ago.

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