Motorists could soon face heftier fines for parking too long at downtown parking meters.
The Spokane City Council is scheduled tonight to consider raising parking ticket fines from $15 to $25.
“It’s bringing us in line with a lot of metropolitan areas,” said Council President Joe Shogan, who supports the change. “These aren’t parking rates. These are fines that people get for over-parking.”
But some downtown businesses question the increase. Parking fines were last raised in 2004, when they went from $10 to $15.
“There’s already this false sense that downtown is overpriced for parking and difficult to navigate, and anything that makes that falseness feel true – people just stop coming,” said Melissa Opel, manager of the flagship Auntie’s Bookstore at Washington and Main. “If they keep on increasing the fines people will just stop shopping downtown.”
The Downtown Spokane Partnership recommends holding off on raising fines at least until after the council is presented with the final results of a downtown parking study next month, said Marla Nunberg, vice president of the organization. That will allow the council to “take a more holistic approach,” she said. The downtown business group paid $20,000 toward the $46,000 parking study; the rest was covered by the city.
Some council members say they’d prefer to wait to consider fine increases until the study is complete.
“Everything is all connected, and we have to see how it all fits,” Councilman Jon Snyder said.
Spokane issued tickets for 47,263 violations at parking meters in 2010, said Street Director Mark Serbousek. Parking infractions throughout the city generate about $1.25 million a year, said Budget Director Tim Dunivant. The city predicts that it would collect about $200,000 more for each $5 increase in fines.
The Spokane proposal mirrors a fine increase last year in the city of Tacoma. Last year, the Tacoma City Council raised parking tickets from $15 to $25. It also approved the installation of parking pay stations downtown, said Rob McNair-Huff, Tacoma spokesman. Previously, parking was free on downtown streets, but time limits were enforced.
Spokane leaders first passed an ordinance allowing for parking meters in 1939. That law was upheld by the state Supreme Court in 1941, according to Spokesman-Review and Spokane Daily Chronicle archives.