Most people have experienced the great pleasure of approaching their vehicle and seeing that loathsome piece of paper jammed in the windshield wiper.
Pullman residents who have thus far avoided this situation are in luck. Starting in March, first time parking violation offenders may have the opportunity to forego a visit from the ticket troll, and instead make the acquaintance of the brochure fairy.
Yes, many people will soon be able to jump for joy upon receiving a paper slip on their car for committing a parking infraction.
While implementing a system where first time offenders aren’t immediately sent to the gallows points towards good intentions, a parking infraction indicates a general disobedience of the law and should be treated as such.
Letting anyone get away scot free for something that is explicitly not allowed, especially when the offender already knows what their punishment would be, defeats the purpose of a ‘gentle warning.’
Pullman Police Chief Gary Jenkins announced this new strategy at a city council meeting in early January. He explains that the new system of warning first, ticket second is ‘business friendly’ because first time offenders will see a brochure instead of a ticket, according to KLEW News. Chief Jenkins said the brochure would “explain what our regulations are, and will likely include either a map or a description of where the two hour parking limits are.”
The Pullman Chamber of Commerce has agreed to invest $3,000 for a piece of equipment to continue keeping track of parking violations. This violation system is expected to be up and running in spring, according to Chief Jenkins, but is still pending approval by the state. This equipment enables the department to keep track of offenders through license plate data basing.
The purpose of a parking ticket is to let the perpetrator know that his or her actions and are subject to a fine. It is common knowledge that parking in a downtown area will most likely require some form of payment. It is also common knowledge that if this payment is not delivered or if the allotted time is up there will be a consequence.
A brochure is not going to enlighten anyone on common parking courtesy and rules because everyone already knows.
The City Council hopes that this system will not discourage people from parking downtown. It won’t, but for entirely the wrong reason.
People won’t seriously heed any warning from a brochure.
According to the Pullman Police Department, the most-issued parking violations are parking without a permit when required, parking in posted areas and parking against the flow of traffic (with left wheels to the curb). Each of these examples fits the criteria that the new violation system will use if approved by the state, leading to more unpunished parking violations.
Not only will more people use this one-time get-out-of-jail-free card, second time offenders will have the ability to abuse this opportunity to contest or mitigate the ticket received, using such excuses as ‘I thought the brochure was just a warning’ or ‘the brochure didn’t explain everything.’
Action against repeat offenders must be brutal because if no course of action is taken then the message will not get across.
Many states are already attacking offenders with multiple unpaid parking tickets by suspending licenses, refusing vehicle registration renewals, or attaching restrictive boots to cars, according to USA Today. These are usually paired with drivers who have 10 or more unpaid tickets.
The city of Seattle has recently installed a ‘scofflaw’ program, meaning if someone currently has four or more unpaid parking tickets, a parking boot will be attached to the registered car. The Seattle Department of Transportation states that this program will be “expected to increase parking availability, increase parking payment compliance, and reduce the amount of money owed to the city.”
According to USA Today, residents of the city of Detroit, Mich., alone owe upwards of $30 million in unpaid parking fines. Although on a smaller scale, this strategy will ultimately cost Pullman money in unpaid fines.
Pullman citizens can and should pay for parking violations, and the new brochure warning system will be nothing short of a flop in an attempt to ease the burden of, God forbid, walking a block to get to your car.