City parking enforcement not a 9-to-5 occurrence
Lincoln Street resident Fred Washko had his car ticketed — at 1:15 in the morning.
Fred Washko of Hazleton found out the hard way that the city’s parking enforcement is around the clock.
He parked his vehicle in his Lincoln Street driveway a little too close to the curb in December, and parking enforcement issued him a ticket — at 1:15 a.m.
“We don’t have money for police,” Washko said. “How do they have money for parking control in the wee hours of the morning? We have way more to worry about in this town.”
Charles Pedri, who oversees the city’s code enforcement office and spoke with Washko about the ticket, explained that the city does have parking enforcement officers out overnight.
He pointed to the case of a man who was running a warehouse at Second and Alter streets and would bring in tractor-trailers in the middle of the night, blocking Second Street. The man was issued a notice of violation, just as Washko was issued a parking ticket in front of his house, Pedri said.
In early December, a parking enforcement officer was credited with foiling an early-morning car break-in. The city worker heard a car alarm at 4 a.m., went toward the sound, chased the suspect, ordered him to stop and held him for police, who arrested the 21-year-old.
Mayor Jeff Cusat said parking enforcement is handled 24 hours a day, not only by parking enforcement personnel but by police officers, firefighters, code enforcement and department of public works employees.
“Blocking the sidewalk is a safety violation,” he said, adding that a person in a wheelchair or pushing a stroller would be forced to walk traverse the street and risk being struck by a vehicle no matter what time of day. “No one takes into consideration the handicapped.”
Washko, who heard the argument that a wheelchair wouldn’t get down the sidewalk, found it absurd with the crime in town and thought money could be better spent.
The city has only four parking enforcement officers, Cusat said, and three of them make less than $10 an hour and the other less than $15 an hour.
“It’s not an expensive thing and it provides for the safety of the people of the city,” the mayor said.
The officer who ticketed Washko actually works a floating shift, and is state- certified as fire police, Cusat said. But it doesn’t matter who issued the ticket or when, because it’s still a safety violation and the law needs to enforced, he said.
“My job is to protect the safety and well being of the citizens in the city and enforce the laws on the books,” he said, adding that he has paid parking tickets as well as his brother and parents.
If the city doesn’t enforce the laws, people aren’t going to be happy, and if the city does, some people, like Washko, aren’t going to be happy, Cusat said.
Washko, who was given extra time to review photographs that parking enforcement took of his vehicle, paid the ticket.
A motorist gets a ticket from Hazleton City Parking Enforcement while parked on Wyoming Street.