Vancouver to mull hike in parking fees

Parking permits could double; increase in meters, tickets expected

By Will Campbell, Columbian staff writer

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Getting a parking ticket in downtown Vancouver could soon be more expensive.

The city’s Parking Advisory Committee plans to propose a $10 increase to the cost of a parking infraction and double the cap cost of a parking permit in four downtown parking locations. It also wants to increase the parking meter fee cap by $1.25 an hour.

The Parking Advisory Committee met Wednesday, and members are sending the proposed changes to the city council for review at a workshop on Aug. 7. The changes are expected to be approved after a public hearing on Aug. 21.

The proposal includes giving parking scofflaws another six days to pay their tickets, so instead of 15 days people would have 21 days to pay the fine.

Expired meter tickets are now $15, with the fine doubled after 15 days. The committee wants to make tickets $25, with a $25 late fine after 21 days. Some tickets are more than $25, such as an overtime parking ticket.

Committee members said by extending the deadline, it would allow people to collect a paycheck before paying a ticket and thus ease the burden.

The committee also suggests bumping the maximum cost of parking spaces from $1.25 an hour to $2.50. Committee members said busier locations such as the city’s waterfront development would be the places charging the higher price.

Kaspan wrote in a email that there are no immediate plans to raise the on-street rates. “We are proposing raising the limits of what can be charged in the future since the cap has already been reached,” he wrote.

The committee also proposes to increase the monthly parking cost cap at city-owned lots from $100 a month to $200. The four lots in Vancouver where the city issues monthly parking permits are at Smith Tower on West Fifth and Washington streets, East Evergreen Boulevard and Broadway, West 11th Street and Broadway, and Washington and West Eighth Street. Kaspan wrote in an email to The Columbian that all four lots are not priced $100 per permit, and most of the spaces are $58 to $87 for a permit.

The extra revenue will allow officials to better enforce parking rules by hiring a new officer, according to Parking Manager Steve Kaspan. He estimates that the officer would cost the city about $86,000 per year.

The city hired Dixon Resources Unlimited at the beginning of the year to conduct a study on Vancouver’s parking situation. Dixon has already said that enforcement is inadequate, according to initial findings.

Kaspan echoed that sentiment in a report, writing that “Someone parking all day at a 10-hour space will pay $12.50. If they do not pay and receive a ticket, they will pay $15, which is only a difference of $2.50. It could be argued that the $15 fine also favors noncompliance for people parking 20 minutes or less. The thinking would be ‘What are the chances of an officer coming by in such a short time?’ Even if they do get caught, a $15 ticket will not bother most people.”

Parking at all of the city’s pay stations was raised in March from 50 cents an hour to $1.25. The older coin-operated meters still will cost 50 cents until they are replaced with new solar-powered credit card reader meters in about six months.

This story has been modified to correctly state that the committee is proposing to raise caps on some parking rates and permits but not necessarily the rates and permits themselves. The late fees are all $25.00, not double the ticket cost as stated previously, and the meter rate cap increase is by $1.25, not $1 as previously stated.