Yakima may soon see stricter parking enforcement

YAKIMA Wash. -- Parking remains a hot topic in Yakima. The downtown master plan calls for building a new plaza at the expense of the parking lot at Millennium Plaza. Now the city hopes to hire a new officer strictly for giving out parking tickets next year.

Four hour free parking, it's what you'll find in the main lots downtown. But getting away with longer than that may soon be tougher with proposals from the city to hire a new parking officer next year.

People that come downtown daily like Tinei Mccaughey won't be happy to see the change.

"There isn't really anywhere else to park around here, if you work in any of these businesses surrounding the parking lot there's a really sketchy free parking down the road, but then again its still dangerous to walk from all the way over there," said McCaughey.

The new YPD parking officer will run the city a tab of more than $56-thousand.

KIMA asked city officials if this was worth the taxpayers money.

"This is a request that we have gotten from downtown businesses, they've made it a priority for the city and the city is responding by proposing this officer," said Randy Beehler, Yakima Community Relations Manager.

People staying longer than the allotted four hours stops more customers from coming and spending money.

KIMA dug up the numbers from the past three years and found the city usually take a loss by making less than half of what is owed to them in parking tickets.

To make it worse at the beginning of this year we were down to only one parking officer.

"It is important to have our parking restrictions enforced, they're there for a reason and we need to have the staffing levels that are appropriate in order for us to enforce them," said Beehler.

Yet some downtown regulars feel the city's money could be spent differently.

"I think that's the least of their concerns, I think if anything they should spend money into making this a safer area," said McCaughey.

No one likes the parking tickets, but officials hope stricter enforcement will help our downtown area accelerate.

The city has had a temporary parking officer to help specifically in the downtown area since August.