There’s a new sheriff in town in Astoria, Oregon. City leaders have just agreed to let downtown merchants enforce parking regulations. According to dailyastorian.com, the city council has given authority to issue tickets to the Astoria Downtown Historic District Association. A member or representative of the association will be deputized as a “community outreach officer” and wear a uniform in his or her capacity as parking enforcement officer.
“There’s a mutual benefit for it. Nobody is more motivated to turn over parking downtown than the downtown association,” Astoria Police Chief Brad Johnston said. “They will always be more motivated to do that than the police department.”
The new parking enforcement officer will be paid through the city’s tourism fund, made up of money collected as hotel tax revenue. The outreach officer will also offer tourist information. The new approach to parking enforcement is part of a plan to increase tourism that will include efforts to clean up downtown areas.
I think this is a worthwhile experiment. One concern might be the public’s reaction to an enforcement officer that is not a police officer, but the city will take steps to inform citizens that the outreach officer is authorized in his or her work. Hopefully, the outreach officer is someone who can maintain an impartial approach to parking enforcement. Favoritism could derail the whole plan.
Ticket fees will still go to the city.
Read the article here.