Overstaying your welcome in downtown Camas is about to get a bit more expensive.
As of July 1, parking fines in the city’s historic downtown business district will double, jumping from $15 to $30.
The Camas City Council approved the increase during its regular meeting on Monday, but city leaders have been mulling a parking-fine increase for more than two years.
The city’s Parking Advisory Committee first broached the topic in January 2020, amid concerns that Camas’ longtime $15 parking fine — in place since at least 1972, according to Camas Police Chief Mitch Lackey — was no longer preventing people from violating the city’s parking limits throughout the downtown core.
Lackey added that the parking fines are not meant to be a profitable business for the city but are, rather, a “service designed to turn over those downtown parking spots for economic growth.”
“It almost costs us more to write a ticket,” Lackey told the council in May. “Right now, it (costs around) 80 cents to $1, which doesn’t take into account the staff person’s time, salary or benefits. It’s not a money maker for the city.”
Though the city has charged a $15 parking fine since at least the early 1970s, according to Lackey, Camas did not enforce parking when COVID restrictions were in place.
“It was a different environment during a major part of the pandemic,” said the city’s finance director, Cathy Huber Nickerson. “We really didn’t do much in the way of parking fees or assessing penalties.”
The Downtown Camas Association’s executive director sent notice to the city council Monday morning saying that while the association and many downtown merchants agreed the city should raise its downtown parking fines, they did not agree with the proposal to double the fine.
The association had wanted to see a tiered parking-fine approach that would waive the first violation, charge $15 for a second violation and charge more than double that for subsequent violations.
The association and many downtown Camas merchants worry that the fine increasing to $30 will discourage would-be downtown visitors from returning to Camas after they receive their first ticket.