- Associated Press - Monday, July 6, 2015

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) - When the city of Portland released information from 900,000 parking tickets issued over nearly four years, a few obvious questions popped up:

Where and when are you most likely to get a parking ticket in Portland?

Do meter officers really keep walking their beats until 7 p.m.?

Does the city’s parking division target Portland Timbers games for easy money?

But no one expected “the daily dip.”

That’s the best way to describe how many of the city’s parking officers appear to stop writing tickets between 2 and 4 p.m.

“Quite frankly, we don’t know what’s happening there,” said Mark Friedman, the city’s Parking Division manager. “Whatever we say would be pure speculation.”

The Oregonian/OregonLive analyzed every citation issued in Portland from Jan. 1, 2011 to Dec. 1, 2014, trying to spot trends in how the city’s 56 officers enforce its 89 parking laws.

For some reason, during parking meter hours, the Portland Bureau of Transportation’s enforcement officers write significantly fewer tickets in the mid-afternoon than in the morning and late afternoon.

In fact, the number of citations issued between 2 and 3 p.m. declined 41 percent, when compared to the previous hour.

So, it’s safe to assume that you’re least likely to get a parking ticket at 2 or 3 p.m. on any given day, right?

Not so fast.

Unlike many U.S. cities where parking is free on Sunday, Portland’s enforcers prowl for violators seven days a week. During a typical day, officers rotate through six shifts on week days and five on Saturday.

But no shifts start or end during the daily ticketing dip, Friedman said. “In fact, enforcement is heavily weighted for mid-day and later in the day,” he said.

Friedman dismissed the possibility that those are the hours when officers prefer to take breaks. Parking Division scheduling doesn’t work that way, he said.

So maybe it’s not an enforcement hole.

A way too logical explanation would be that the number of meter transactions - people buying the clutter-creating time slips displayed in car windows - also falls off a cliff during the early afternoon.

The Oregonian/OregonLive also requested information about every parking-slip purchase during October 2014, the Parking Division’s busiest month in the past four years.

A review of 250,000 of those meter transactions found a corresponding daily plummet in the number of motorists buying parking slips between 2 and 4 p.m.

So, basically the daily dip likely isn’t as much about slack enforcement as it is the hourly migration of drivers in and out of Rip City’s meter districts.

For whatever reason, rain or shine, the early afternoon is the slow period at Portland’s parking meters.


Information from: The Oregonian, https://www.oregonlive.com

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