Introducing a kinder, gentler meter maid.
Spokane officials on Wednesday announced a rebranding of its parking enforcement division.
The 14-member staff, which will fall to 13 next year, will no longer be parking enforcement officers, but the My Spokane Parking Services Team.
Their 12 tiny vehicles have been rebranded, too, and even advertise them as helpful ambassadors of downtown for those who are lost or have other questions.
City Council members Mike Fagan and Steve Salvatori will kick off the change by greeting customers and handing out coupons and maps at the entrance to River Park Square today.
“There’s a whole lot of people who have this perception that our ticket writers are heartless,” Fagan said. “So what we’re trying to do is change the culture.”
Parking enforcement officers recently have been trained for assisting visitors to Spokane and given conflict resolution training, said Jan Quintrall, Spokane’s business and developer services director. Parking Services is now overseen by Quintrall instead of the Street Department.
She said parking officers will not be any more lenient under the change. They already would cease writing a ticket, for instance, if a driver arrived as the ticket was being written.
“They’ve always been pretty friendly,” she said.
As part of the change, the city will not charge parkers at meters after 5 p.m. today through Jan. 5. Meters usually are enforced until 7 p.m.