Opinion

Bremerton sticks with Diamond Parking for one more year

By LYNSI BURTON

Staff writer

The Bremerton City Council approved a one-year contract renewal with Diamond Parking Wednesday, though some council members expressed a desire to quit the parking enforcement company.

The measure passed with a 6-3 vote. Councilmembers Adam Brockus, Dianne Robinson and Greg Wheeler voted “no.”

Brockus and Wheeler said they opposed the contract because of the reputation Diamond has of heavy-handed enforcement and the complaints they hear from residents about the parking tickets they receive. Diamond Parking should have more leniency on some parkers, including those who attend festivals, Brockus said.

Robinson said the city should take over parking enforcement itself.

Other council members, including Cecil McConnell, pointed out that Diamond enforces the codes written by the city and that constituent complaints are not necessarily grounded in bad policy or customer service.

“Most of the complaints are that they have to pay for a parking ticket,” McConnell said. “Sounds to me like some of the council members want to shoot the messenger.”

The proposal introduced to the council was a three-year renewal, but members passed an amendment reducing the commitment to one-year with a 6-3 vote. Councilmembers Jim McDonald, Wheeler and McConnell opposed the amendment.

Members wanted to reduce the length of the contract to accommodate parking policy changes that might be recommended by the city’s downtown parking committee and the yet-to-be-assembled residential parking committee.

Councilmember Will Maupin, who is also on the downtown parking committee, said the city can work out parking contract issues next year when the committees’ plans for the city are better developed.

Diamond’s initial contract bid to Bremerton was at $19,785 a month, which was about $180 more expensive than a bid from Republic Parking — a point that Brockus emphasized when he proposed breaking the city’s relationship with Diamond. Since then, the contract was negotiated down by $672 a month to $19,113.

Last year, the Diamond Parking contract saved the city more than $205,000 in enforcement costs, according to information provided by City Clerk Carol Etgen.

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