Say Hello To Kirkland's New Parking Enforcement Vehicle!

Hello. Aren't you friendly looking? Do you have a name? Oh, I see P-149 on your wheel well. That wont do. We need a proper name for you. Let's come up with some ideas...

Your name should be warm and fuzzy.
Your name should be evoke happy thoughts and convey a sense of friendliness.

I like the name,  Interceptor III. After all, these hot wheels seem to be two-seater upgrades to the older uni-seater Interceptor II models. Interceptor III sounds good. It says, "Welcome to Kirkland! Come and spend some time, spend some money!" The name also conveys the a fist of steel beneath that cuddly exterior that says, "Do not test me... I am an all-electric high tech Interceptor with laser tracking "ears" and acceleration like you wouldn't believe. If you violate the law, I will fine you. If you flee, I will find you."

I doubt that KPD will be opening up a contest to name these hot wheels like they did for their new Cross Kirkland Corridor Utility Terrain Vehicles ( today is your last chance to vote: Who knows? Wouldn't it be fun to be able to name the vehicle which is the most visible symbol of downtown Kirkland's parking woes to so many Eastsiders? 

Why does Kirkland have that retched new police car lurking about the Antique Mall? Kirkland must be making a lot of money writing parking tickets.
— Bellevue visitor to downtown Kirkland

Why are we making light of this obviously improved and more capable parking enforcement vehicle? Probably because it is so easy. Yesterday a Bellevue resident emailed Kirkland Views after seeing the above vehicle patrolling the Antique Mall lot with the comment, "Why does Kirkland have that retched new police car lurking about the Antique Mall? Kirkland must be making a lot of money writing parking tickets." While the commenter may not have all of the facts about the economics of parking enforcement, the optics are spot on. When a person gets a parking ticket and sees these new hot wheels, they will assume the worst.

I am sure there are all kinds of serious law enforcement capabilities and high-tech gadgets under the hood of this cartoonish little cart that looks like it belongs in Mickey Mouse's garage. It has "ear" after all! There are probably studies saying that parking enforcement vehicles with soft and cuddly personas make getting parking tickets a little less nasty.

On the bright side, with these two-seater hot wheels on patrol, when a crime takes place, parking enforcement officer 1 can take off in pursuit while parking enforcement officer 2 won't miss a beat writing tickets. 

I know it is unfair to pick on parking enforcement. The folks who are (currently) in that position are actually quite nice personally. It is not personal. It is the job of writing tickets which is the target of scorn and mockery by so many.

Some cities, like Bellevue, choose to outsource this duty to the private sector (Diamond Parking) and I can only presume they accomplish a similar level of service at a lower cost. I am not a fan of government doing what the private sector can do more efficiently. I have not seen any evidence that Kirkland is better off having KPD patrol parking as opposed to a private sector contractor. Strong unions and politics are at the heart of the issue. 

Personally, I wish KPD would get out of the parking enforcement business because I think it is a PR nightmare for them. When people use the term, "retched" to describe a parking enforcement officer or vehicle, that is not good for Kirkland. I would bet that parking enforcement generates more ill will towards KPD than it is worth. Who knows? As long a parking is an issue of contention (and parking in Kirkland is known throughout the Eastside as being a pain), KPD's good name will be sullied because they are the ones in charge of writing the parking tickets. 

New Mickey Mouse cars will not improve parking in Kirkland... they will, however, improve parking enforcement. That means better ability to patrol downtown, perhaps improving response times or even lowering incidents of crime. It also means improved ability to issue parking tickets for scofflaws.

Unfortunately, those parking scofflaws are also the customers to downtown merchants. The employees who know how to work the system and the locals who know where all of the "hidden" spaces are located, are not the ones getting parking tickets. It is the folks who come to Kirkland from other towns who get caught. And that is the real tragedy of Kirkland's parking mess: we discourage people from coming here to spend their money. 

There must be a better way.