GRANTS PASS – The Grants Pass City Council approved the creation of a new, full-time parking enforcement position at their meeting Aug. 18. The position will be added as a non-sworn member of the Department of Public Safety.
Final details regarding position duties, qualifications, and salary will be issued when the position posts to the city’s website, where applications will be accepted. City Manager Aaron Cubic confirmed the position will be dedicated to full-time parking enforcement.
The new position comes on the heels of a series of potential solutions explored by the council to help solve parking issues that have primarily existed in the city’s Central Business District. Until now, DPS community service officers have attempted to juggle parking enforcement with a plethora of other duties assigned to that division.
A police cadet program initiated within the past two years has also helped to mitigate parking issues, but the program is designed to provide support to law enforcement as additional “eyes and ears” for patrol officers, not for parking enforcement, said Public Safety Chief Warren Hensman.
At council direction, Hensman prepared a request for proposals to potentially contract parking enforcement out to a private company, but after reviewing the details of the contract, the council decided against the idea.
Nonetheless, the issue of parking enforcement, especially in the city’s downtown core, has been a source of contention, with many downtown business owners complaining that valued parking spaces are commonly taken by employees and other business owners who disregard the standard three-hour time limits imposed in those areas.
Earlier this year, the council approved an increase to the fee structure for parking violations, establishing a $25 fine for the first offense. The new parking enforcement position will now ensure that regular parking enforcement is conducted.
“I think this is generally a good idea,” said Councilor Rob Pell during a recent council workshop item regarding the new position.
Pell, a long-time downtown business owner, said he has watched the parking issue go unresolved for many years. Having served on the city’s Downtown Parking Task Force, Pell said the three-hour time limit on parking in the CBD was imposed with input from more than 60 business owners who agreed that the limit would not affect “actual customers.”
Several council members inquired about the potential revenue generated from fines associated with parking violations and how those funds might help offset the costs of the enforcement position.
Cubic reported that the city currently generates between $15,000 and $18,000 per year in collected fines.
Council President DJ Faszer said he was less concerned with potential revenue generation, and more concerned with finally addressing the need for “fairness in insuring adequate available parking.”
The council agreed that consistent enforcement is the overall goal.