Parking enforcement will regain teeth
Illegally-parked Haines motorists could soon see an unwelcome surprise tucked under their windshield wiper.
The Haines Borough is considering an ordinance that would allow police officers to write parking tickets outside of a motorist’s presence.
Under current law, officers are required to physically hand the ticket to the violator, making it extremely difficult to effectively police illegal parking, said interim police chief Simon Ford.
“I can’t leave it on a windshield. I can’t leave it in their car door. If I see an illegally parked car, I have to sit there and wait five minutes or two hours or six months or whatever until the person comes back to the vehicle, and then I have to say, ‘I’m sorry, you’re illegally parked. I’m serving you a citation,’” Ford said.
“We don’t have that kind of time, so we just haven’t been writing parking tickets,” he added.
Ford said he hasn’t left a parking ticket on a vehicle since 2010, when the Department of Public Safety’s uniform citation was revised. If motorists are blatantly and dangerously violating parking laws – for example, a car sticking out into the roadway and impeding traffic – officers will try to track down the person and issue the citation personally.
“We’d like to enforce parking codes consistently and this will give us the means to do that,” Ford said.
Places around town with frequent parking violations include the Port Chilkoot Dock parking lot and Main Street, Ford said. Motorists frequently violate the one-hour parking limit on Main Street between Second and Third avenues, much to the frustration of business owners, who lose customers who can’t find a close parking space.
Mike Ward, owner of the grocery store at Second and Main, said he supports the ordinance and increased enforcement of the one-hour limit. When Ward asked a man why he never shops at the grocery store, the man replied, “I drive around the block a couple times, and if I can’t find a spot, I go to the other place.”
Ward said employees working along Main Street, including in the Gateway Building, park on the street in spaces intended for customers. A citation would deter that, Ward said.
The ordinance establishes a $25 fine and a process for appeal.
Juneau and Skagway recently passed similar ordinances.
The assembly voted to introduce the ordinance Tuesday and forwarded the issue to the Government Affairs and Services Committee for review. The ordinance is scheduled for a second public hearing June 25.