by Katy Kappele
It’s a beautiful day at Whatcom Community College. The sun beats down on students as they lie on the grass. It glimmers off long rows of shining cars in the parking lots. Among these rows of bright metal constructions, young men and women in brilliant yellow vests stroll up and down, down and up.
Peter Tran, 21, a former Whatcom student and former parking monitor, said he’s seen some unusual things in the parking lots, such as people making out (and more) in their cars, and some car prowls. Because the parking monitors have no law enforcement authority, their best recourse is to call the Bellingham police.
Parking monitors are hired from the criminal justice program after a short interview, and while they do write tickets, they are primarily for public safety.
Brian Keeley, Whatcom’s facilities director, says that in the three years the program has run, parking monitors have “significantly helped with the car prowl issue.”
In addition to writing you a ticket, the monitors will help if your car needs a jump or a tire changed. Monitors can also give directions.
Ticketable offences include parking in a construction zone, fire lane (red curb), or other no-parking areas, in WCC van parking spaces, in the roadway, in a delivery area or service driveway, in a disability spot without properly displayed permit, in the visitor parking if you are a WCC student, faculty or staff. Tickets are also given for parking in two spaces or parking on or outside the lines.
Warnings are sometimes issued. The fine is $15 for the first offense and $30 for the second. Money from tickets goes to parking lot and roadway upkeep.
Dzmitry Ryzhkou, 20, says that they are able to find the owner of a car by running the plates. “If the car belongs to your parents we look by last name,” he said. “We try to match it up.” Colleen Hansen can tie consequences of not paying parking tickets to a student’s records by a process of elimination based on last name.
Ryzhkou said that if you don’t want tickets, “just don’t break the rules.”