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Assembly OKs new process for parking tickets

School budget also gets approval

Posted: May 14, 2013 - 12:04am

The City and Borough of Juneau Assembly Monday night passed an ordinance that would establish a new process for handling parking violations.

The ordinance would keep current parking rules unaltered but would once again allow notification of infractions by affixing tickets to vehicles. It also creates a hearing officer position to oversee the process.

A widely-publicized change in state law made it necessary for parking enforcement personnel to hand the ticket to a violator rather than simply leaving a ticket on a vehicle. Downtown parking is purchased now at ubiquitous blue sidewalk kiosks where license plate numbers must be typed-in to register a vehicle as legally parked.

Dennis Harris, a taxi driver, voiced concerns over the change to the ordinance.

“As a taxi driver, I have a problem with this ordinance,” Harris said. Harris was concerned about fines against standing and parking outside of designated taxi zones.

“It leaves the substantive law exactly the same, it only addresses how tickets are handled,” City Attorney John Hartle said.

Harris was also concerned about the legal training and qualifications for the hearing officer to be appointed to oversee the process. Assemblymember Jerry Nankervis and other assemblymembers also wanted more information on the appointment of the public hearing officer and what qualifications would be sought out in the right candidate.

As of now, they’re considering the Law Department intern who has graduated college, served under the District Attorney in Anchorage and has two years of law school. They would also task him with writing a desk manual for that position as they seek out a current city employee to take on the position.

More specifically, members were concerned about who would now be allowed to issue tickets.

The scope wouldn’t be limited to who can issue tickets outside of police officers, although the manager would have the power to designate those issuers. Hartle clarified that the ordinance also includes citations for wood burning violations, waters and harbors violations, bear nuisances and airport parking, so the power would be granted to non-police officers such as airport security.

Paul Thomas, the owner of the Alaska Cache Liquor store said he’d like to see more efforts to educate the public before the ordinance amendment goes into effect, and to see the installation of a drop box in City Hall for people who need to pay tickets.

“Let’s not let downtown take a negative hit, let’s get [officers] out there issuing warnings today,” Thomas said noting that officers have been issuing warnings. “Let’s keep that going.”

“If we get a couple of PSAs out there ... we need to get the word back out that there are rules we need to follow,” Thomas said.

In other business, retiring Police Chief Greg Browning addressed the Assembly and the public. Browning announced his retirement earlier this year.

“I think I’m leaving the department in good shape,” he said.

The Assembly also approved the fiscal year 2014 Juneau School District budget of $93,967,200.

Contact reporter Kenneth Rosen at 523-2250 or at kenneth.rosen@juneauempire.com.

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