Over the last year, residents may have noticed some changes regarding parking in downtown Williamsburg.
In an effort to make parking better, there has been an increased parking enforcement presence around the city, from the parking enforcement Smart car, to the tire-marking Jeep, to several parking “ambassadors” strolling the city streets on foot.
It’s part of a larger plan to make parking better, and, depending on a City Council vote, more changes may be on the way.
This week, Interim City Manager Andrew Trivette will give a presentation on parking, which recommends increasing parking fines after the first violation, targeting repeat offenders.
City Council is scheduled to vote on the proposed ordinance to amend parking fines at its monthly meeting at 2 p.m. Thursday at the Stryker Center, 213 N. Boundary St.
Under the proposed changes, the first violation fee remains the same at $10, but the fee will increase for the second violation and some tickets that are paid after the initial five-day deadline.
The presentation on changing parking fines was previously presented to City Council in April.
The proposed changes come as part of a phased implementation plan for the 2016 Downtown Parking Study, which aims to ease the “perception” of a shortage of parking spots near popular destinations downtown.
The first stage is already underway, which includes adding three new parking officers a year ago and buying and installing sensors on parking spots to gain additional data on where residents and tourists park.
Like other parking enforcement officers, Kim Perry has memorized the city streets and their resident vehicles, waving to walkers and bicyclists as she checks cars for resident or guest parking passes.
In a past interview, Williamsburg Police Maj. Don Janderup said increasing parking enforcement is not just about writing tickets — it’s about taking a more holistic approach to parking in general citywide.
“We’re not rolling around with eagle eyes trying to write tickets all the time,” Perry said, adding that sometimes she issues warnings before writing parking tickets. She functions as both a rule enforcer and a public resource, fielding questions from residents and tourists.
While parking enforcement isn’t out to always write tickets, adding three parking enforcement officers last year has made a difference.
The number of parking tickets nearly doubled from fiscal year 2017 to 2018, from 3,167 to 6,262 tickets, city spokeswoman Lee Ann Hartmann said. In fiscal year 2016, parking enforcement wrote 2,882 tickets.
Those tickets also resulted in a revenue increase, from $52,176 in fiscal year 2017, to $104,712.35 in 2018.
When the three parking employees were hired, police Chief Sean Dunn told WYDaily that increasing parking compliance means city police and parking enforcement officers will be more available to the public to help with parking or general information.
“There’s no reason we can’t help find the answer or direct people to someone who can,” Perry said.
A long-term issue
The City of Williamsburg began working to better the area’s parking in 1995 with a study that produced 14 recommendations.
Nine of the study’s recommendations were at least partially implemented, but the city chose to forego implementing on-street paid parking at the time, according to Trivette’s presentation, which is available through the online agenda.
In 2002, the city brought Colonial Williamsburg and other merchants, customers and employees into the conversation on parking. Most recommended free on-street parking and fees in off-street lots.
Most recently, in 2016, Pennsylvania-based Walker Parking Consultants conducted a survey of area parking, which found downtown “does not have a documentable parking shortage.”
Now, the city is working to implement recommendations, including Trivette’s Thursday proposal of adjusting the parking fine scale.
View the full presentation for Thursday’s meeting on the Williamsburg agenda website.