THE ANCHORAGE DAILY PLANET
Mayor Ethan Berkowitz wants code enforcement officers, rather than police, to be responsible for ticketing and towing junked or abandoned vehicles and plans to ask voters to change the city charter so that can happen.
The argument for the change is that police have better things to do, and code enforcement officers easily could do the job.
It is a passable argument, but a very bad idea.
Lest we forget, police are responsible now for those tasks only because of egregious city conduct years ago that caused voters furious about the then-Anchorage Parking Authority’s overly aggressive parking enforcement to rise up in 1997 and institute the very language in the charter that Berkowitz now would change.
It what became known as the Parking Wars, two Anchorage sisters fired up a heated campaign against the aggressive enforcement by dressing up as “parking fairies” and, to the amusement of the public and the consternation of public officials, began feeding coins into expired meters.
The charter language approved by voters in 1997 is clear: “No enforcement of any vehicle violation, whether the vehicle is parked or in motion may be performed by the Municipality of Anchorage by any persons other than a regularly sworn police officer….”