The city of Bakersfield is set to expand its parking enforcement operations after a trial period that began last year.
At Wednesday’s meeting, the Bakersfield City Council is scheduled to vote on approving three new full-time positions for parking enforcement technicians for the Bakersfield Police Department.
Previously, part-time staff had been fulfilling that role for the city, patrolling city streets and issuing tickets for vehicles parked illegally.
The city says that part-time workers are no longer enough to enforce illegal parking in certain areas of the city.
The part-time workers currently employed are only able to work 960 hours a year. (Full-time employees typically work 2,080 hours.) The city would need to hold two recruitment and training sessions per year under the current system in order to keep the parking enforcement positions staffed.
“The addition of the full time classification will allow the department to continue to provide consistent and effective parking enforcement activities throughout the city,” the city said in documents supporting the expansion of the program.
The three parking technicians will focus their efforts on downtown Bakersfield, where nearly all city streets are subject to parking limits, and Bakersfield College, where student parking has overflowed into nearby residential neighborhoods.
Although some business owners have voiced skepticism of the new city efforts, many local downtown businesses say they welcome the increased enforcement.
“As a business, I think it’s good because I’m not going to have somebody parked in front of my business for two days straight,” said Ben Klawitter, manager of House of Flowers on 19th Street.
He said increasing parking enforcement in Bakersfield was part of the city’s growing pains, but parking downtown was still relatively painless.
“We’re lucky in Bakersfield that we can usually park right in front of the business that we’re going to,” he said.
Other business owners said they would appreciate the increased police presence.
“We used to have a policeman that would walk the beat around here and he did a real good job,” said Mario Alvarez, owner of Pacific Jewelry on Chester Avenue. “Just enforce the laws and we’ll be in business.”
Multiple downtown businesses said part of the parking problem downtown stemmed from employees parking in spots throughout their shift. By enforcing time limits on streetside parking, the city hopes to open up the parking spaces up to customers.
Since the implementation of the part-time enforcement technicians, the city has experienced fewer calls for service relating to parking issues both downtown and around Bakersfield College.
The areas the technicians patrol were selected because they generated a high number of calls.
The new parking technicians will be paid a starting salary of $17.67 per hour, according to city documents.
The city claims the technician’s salaries will not impact the police department’s budget for Fiscal Year 2018-19 because the temporary positions have already been budgeted and increased revenue from parking fine collections will help pay for the positions.
The issue has been placed on the consent calendar for the meeting, indicating city officials believe it is a routine matter that will most likely pass without comment from the council.