Ed Luna is a parking enforcement specialist who patrols the streets of downtown Chico in search of expired parking meters and registration tags. He is one of three “goodwill ambassadors” that the Chico Police Department has selected to work exclusively on parking violations. Six weeks into the new program, Luna maintains that parking enforcement specialists aren’t the ticket-happy, emotionless robots you might imagine, but rather human beings more than willing to compromise.
What prompted the program’s inception?
Downtown business owners have noticed people feeding the parking meters past the posted limit. You can’t just park there for your full eight-hour shift—the downtown area is prime real estate. Once you’ve exceeded the limit, you have to move past the nearest intersection.
Who was handing out parking tickets before you?
The community service officers. They were charged with the duty of checking meters, but they had other obligations as well. They could only spend very little time downtown checking the meters. We are concerned with parking alone—we’re doing it 100 percent of the time.
What’s the best way to get out of a ticket?
If you’re nice with us and engage in conversation, there’s a good chance we’ll walk away without issuing a citation. We’re nice guys, just like everybody else. I understand people can get a little absent-minded with the meters, but if you come out and give me a couple of choice words, you’ll probably end up with a ticket. If you had [former community service officer] Marge, you wouldn’t be able to talk her out of it after she put that pen to paper.
What’s the angriest you’ve seen someone over a citation?
We had one woman who wanted the shade of a tree, so she parked in a handicapped space. She hunted me down, and she tried to plead her case. Her husband ended up getting in between us and called me an F-ing A. They just didn’t want to take responsibility for their actions and got mad at me for catching them, basically.
Any exceptionally bad parking jobs come to mind?
You get the early morning coffee customers who don’t take the time to park parallel to the sidewalk. They always leave the back end out in the street, sometimes as much as 48 inches. That forces bicyclists even further out into traffic, which is more dangerous for them. You also see people with a brand-new car who will purposefully park their car in the middle of two spaces to keep it looking pretty.