EVERETT, Wash. – Sticker shock is coming to the North Sound for those who don’t pay attention to parking laws.
While street parking in downtown Everett remains free the fine for overstaying your welcome is about to double.
“The new history museum is going in across the street, the children’s museum is around the corner and people walk by here a lot,” said business owner Bill Zama.
Many who work or shop in downtown Everett say they’re seeing growth – and for all the good reasons.
“You want to fill the storefronts in Everett,” said walker Cynthia Treharne.
While most street parking is still free for the first 90 minutes sometimes finding a spot can be a challenge.
“We call it Doris Day parking when we can pull right in front because in all her movies that’s what she did,” said Zama.
Zama’s Zamarama gallery is smack dab in the middle of downtown and even he has trouble finding a place to park.
“When it’s filled like it is today sometimes at noon I can’t park here either,” he said. “I have to go to the next block or the lot.”
“They’re going to have more customers if they can find a place to park," said Kathleen Baxter from Everett Public Works.
That’s one reason why city leaders decided to up the fine for hogging a parking spot – the fee goes from $20 to $40. A 3-year-old study shows nearly 15-percent of those parking downtown overstay their welcome, leaving some customers at a loss for a spot.
“We are just modernizing, updating and hoping to regain the value of having a parking violation fine,” said Baxter.
Not only that but the city’s 20-year-plan shows Everett’s population could grow by 60,000 people and that means the free parking or the number of spaces could also change.
“We will certainly monitor and update as needed to stay up with the pace of growth,” she said.
Officials believe a $40 fine is high enough to discourage people from staying too long.
“Forty dollars, you’re going to be more sneaky,” laughed Treharne.
Drivers could pay to park in garages or private lots to save the hassle but come November they had pay attention to the clock when pulling into a street stall.
Next year, the city hopes to roll out a new way to pay for parking and parking violations online.
The system will also track paying parking customers by license plate which could make it easier to spot violators.