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BRIEF: Bellingham shifts parking enforcement, adopts updated ticket system

City implements changes to streamline parking violations management

Parking meters in downtown Bellingham. Parking enforcement duties were transferred from the Police Department to the Public Works Department on April 1, 2023. // Photo by Desiree Erdmann

On April 1, the City of Bellingham transferred parking enforcement duties from the Bellingham Police Department to the public works department in order to streamline operations and enhance efficiency in managing parking violations. 

During the transitional period, the public works department issued warning notices instead of immediate ticketing for parking violations to prepare for the updated tickets implemented in late May.

Amy Cloud, the public information officer and media relations lead for the Bellingham Public Works Department, said while the city initially provided a grace period to give individuals time to adjust and familiarize themselves with the regulations, violators should not expect to receive a warning rather than a ticket. 

This grace period also allowed the city to complete staffing the four parking enforcement officer positions before introducing new tickets. The updated tickets feature revised wording that meets the Washington State Administrative Office for the Courts’ 2023 requirements, including clearer instructions and detailed information on responding to tickets and setting up payment plans.

These ticket updates and the transferring of parking enforcement duties aim to create a smoother process for handling parking violations and subsequent legal procedures. 

In the past, the public works department has played a key role in parking operations, working on operational functions and funding with the police department, city finance department and municipal court; however, the police department has been responsible for parking enforcement staffing and personnel costs.

While the functions of the finance department and municipal court remain unchanged, the parking enforcement responsibilities of the Police Department have been fully transferred to the public works department. 

According to the Mayor’s 2023-24 Preliminary Biennial Budget, the public works department has established a new division that includes parking staffing and activities responsibilities. The budget also reports that the Parking Services Fund has been transferred to the department.

“The goal was to create efficiencies by consolidating parking responsibilities within Bellingham Public Works and allow the Bellingham Police Department to focus on its core mission,” Cloud said in an email.

Cloud said the decision to transfer all parking enforcement responsibilities aligns with the city’s broader ongoing efforts to shift non-criminal enforcement duties from the police department to other departments. 

By implementing these changes in parking enforcement duties and ticket wording, Cloud said the City aims to create a more efficient and transparent process for all. To stay informed about paid parking changes, visit the city's official website.

Isabel Hyde

Isabel Hyde (she/her) is a city news reporter for The Front. She is a third-year studying public relations. In her free time, she enjoys watching films, curling up with a good book, and going to local music shows. You can reach her at

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