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October 3, 2017

Warrenton again enforcing downtown parking rules

Photo/Cassandra Brown
Warrenton Parking Enforcement Officer Joy Christianson will issue warnings until next week, when the town will begin fining violators.
Even though I can occasionally be one of those abusers, having better enforcement will result in a better experience for customers and the average person trying to get into Old Town and find parking.
— Pablo Teodoro, Great Harvest Bread Co. owner
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Staff Journalist
With a chalk stick, ticket book, police radio and sunglasses, Warrenton’s new parking enforcement officer hit the streets Monday.

For the first time in about two years, Warrenton has an employee to consistently enforce parking regulations in Old Town.

Joy Christianson, a Warrenton resident, walked about six miles her first day on the job.

“I love the town. I like the hours, and I like interacting with people,” said Ms. Christianson, a part-time police department employee. “With me being out and around, I want to help people find the right spots.”

She works flexible hours between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. four days a week, enforcing higher parking fines and new regulations the town council adopted in July.

Ms. Christianson earns $20 an hour.

“It fills a void we’ve had for the last couple of years,” Warrenton Police Chief Louis Battle said.

Town police recently had handled parking enforcement in a “reactive fashion,” for instance if they received a citizen complaint, according to Chief Battle.

“If an officer had time in between their duties, they would try to do parking enforcement,” he said.

Still in training, Ms. Christianson will give those who violate parking regulations warning tickets.

Beginning next week, citizens will receive a warning for an initial parking offense. Then, the first issued ticket will carry a $10 fine — double the former amount. 

Ms. Christianson will start using an electronic “portable parking ticket writer” next week, according to Chief Battle. The $8,336 device will photograph license plates, provide time stamps and print tickets. It will connect to a database that allows violators to pay fines online. 

A second ticket will cost a violator $25. Subsequent violations will cost $50 apiece. 

No driver will receive a special exception, and Ms. Christianson will have no quota for ticketing.

“I think that parking is often abused,” said Pablo Teodoro, who owns the Great Harvest Bread Co. at Fifth and Main streets. “Even though I can occasionally be one of those abusers, having better enforcement will result in a better experience for customers and the average person trying to get into Old Town and find parking.

“It will be even more obvious that there is plenty of (parking) when it’s managed better. I think merchants and their staff are some of the worst offenders,” Mr. Teodoro added. “So, I think it’s going to be great to have somebody keeping tabs on us. I think it’s fair, equitable. If I get a ticket, I probably deserved it.”

Town officials expect to collect $40,000 in parking fines this fiscal year — up $15,000 from fiscal 2017.

“It’s great that they are enforcing it,” Warrenton resident Andy Leitz said. “It’s the law. They are only doing their job.”

Chief Battle suggested: “Just be courteous to fellow drivers, follow the law and help ensure parking for visitors to Old Town.”

Also adopted July 1, Warrenton fines range from $35 to $100 for other parking violations. They include parking in a loading zone or illegally using a handicapped spot.
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BJ · October 3, 2017 at 6:27 pm
Isn't it time to move the Post Office to a more user friendly location? The Town has grown and we need the PO to be centrally located. There are so many other locations with parking and space to accommodate both the Main PO and the hub out near Denny's.

Blaine Johnson
Silii · October 3, 2017 at 5:36 pm
There is one handicapped parking space on Main St. The others are located in parking lots from which a person with a disability must walk/use a chair/somehow ambulate with their disability up and down hills, up and down curbs, and on uneven sidewalks. Yes, another parking space might be available, but it generally takes people with mobility disabilities more time to ambulate, thus extending the time they need to be parked. So much for meeting friends for lunch or dinner at local restaurants located on Main St. Or, maybe there is a rule that extends the time limits or makes an exception for cars with handicapped plates or signs?
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