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Police start enforcement of downtown parking regulations

By RICHARD D. OXLEY
North Kitsap Herald Reporter
September 6, 2013 · Updated 9:20 AM
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Courtesy warnings—such as this one placed on a windshield in downtown Poulsbo—may soon be replaced with parking tickets for repeat violators. / Richard D. Oxley / Bainbridge Island Review

POULSBO — It used to be such a sweet, sweet thing, but Poulsbo police are soon to say, “No more Mr. Nice Guy” when it comes to downtown parking violations.

“For about a year we’ve been giving courtesy warnings,” Poulsbo Deputy Chief Robert Wright said.

“Citizen volunteers give out a courtesy warning for violating the 3-hour parking limit,” he said.

Parking in downtown Poulsbo can get tight. There are parking lots on Front Street, Anderson Parkway and Jensen Way, and on-street parking on Front Street and Jensen Way, but parking tends to bottleneck in the downtown’s core.

Holding onto such a spot can also be a challenge, leading to some extending their stay beyond time limits. The city’s response so far has been courtesy warnings issued by Poulsbo PD’s Volunteers in Police Service, or VIPs.

The volunteers place the warnings under windshield wipers. They keep a log of the courtesy reminders and the license plate numbers of vehicles they’ve placed them on.

A small number of drivers have ignored the notifications, however, and warnings have piled up. That, combined with reports of blatant disregard for the parking regulations, has prompted city officials to take the matter more seriously.

“I told (the deputy chief) that if they have gotten three or four warnings, to ticket them,” said Mayor Becky Erickson at a recent Economic Development Committee meeting.

“Because what’s happening is our volunteers are getting very discouraged, especially after one person walked up to a volunteer and laughed in their face about the warning. So I said, ‘That’s it, we’re done. Ticket them.’”

Erickson noted that part of the problem, but not entirely, has been business owners and employees parking in the downtown area for extended periods of time.

Some downtown merchants agree.

“I’ve been here 17 years. Businesses parking in customer parking has always been a problem,” said Suzanne Droppert of Liberty Bay Books. “I do hope warnings are given first and we are notified where employees should park.”

Volunteers will continue to hand out the courtesy reminders as a first response, according to Wright. At this point, the tickets will only be issued to repeat offenders who have received multiple reminders.

When it comes to competition for downtown parking, though, Droppert said the customer should win.

“I welcome issuing parking violations to those non-customers who park all day in customers’ parking (spaces),” she said. “Most work in businesses downtown and should not be taking up customer parking from all of us.”

Parking tickets in downtown Poulsbo carry a $30 fine.

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