Starting the weekend before the Thanksgiving holiday, the City of Spokane launched a test period for its new, pay-by-phone parking meter system at a section of downtown parking spaces.
Forty-one "smart" meters on Post Street between City Hall and Riverfront Park offer the pay-by-phone option. We tested it out last week to see how it works.
The city is using the Quick Pay app, which is linked on its parking services page. Or, find it by searching in the apps store on your phone. It's free to install and use.
After installing, users are prompted to create an account, enter their vehicle's license plate number and a brief description of their car, along with a source of payment from a debit/credit card. Users who drive multiple vehicles can also easily add those to their account.
I set out downtown to see how the app worked. For someone who rarely has any change to plug meters, I've embraced the card-friendly meters around downtown installed last fall. As someone who's also encountered issues with these before (like a card not reading when it's rained, or just not working at all, forcing me to move and find another meter) having a third backup plan to avoid being ticketed is awesome.
After finding a spot right in front of City Hall, I launched the app and attempted to scan the QR code on the meter label (photo below) that explains how to use the new system. It didn't work. Neither did the NFC (near-field communication) technology, which the label indicated was another way to tell the app what spot you're parking in.
The glitch (it worked later during a second attempt) seemed to be that the QR code was failing to redirect to the correct page within the app. So, I tried the third option — texting the parking stall code (10989) to the number listed on the meter (see right screenshot). Finally, it worked. Then I received a text message confirming that I'd just paid for an hour of parking, with the option to add 15 minutes of time via text, for up to one additional hour than I'd paid for. The meter I'd parked at had a 2 hour limit, which is still enforced even though users can add more time to meters remotely, says city spokeswoman Julie Happy.
However, if you are at the meter for the two full hours of time, she says the system does let users to pay for a final, 15-minute grace period before they must leave that particular meter.
Immediately after adding time to the meter I noticed the time did not show up on the meter's clock. This system won't show the time you've just added using your phone, but Happy says parking attendants will still know you've paid for the time after they run your plate number in their database.
"I parked in front of City Hall and watched [an attendant] pull up my car and then he walked away," she adds of her experience testing the system.
The trial period for the pay-by-phone system is expected to run for the next several weeks, and Happy says if all goes well, sometime in early 2015 the city will begin rolling out the option to the rest of the 3,000 smart meters around downtown.
If users encounter problems using the new payment method, Happy encourages them to email her ([email protected]), or contact the city's parking services department (232-8836).
A highly anticipated federal medical marijuana trial against a family dubbed the “Kettle Falls Five” scheduled to begin today will now wait until at least February following a continuance from the new judge taking over the case. The new trial date is set for Feb. 23.
Larry Harvey, 70, one of the defendants, filed a speedy trial waiver today, asking for more time to coordinate witnesses. Federal agents charged Harvey and others with illegally manufacturing marijuana after spotting his personal grow operation near Colville during an aerial search in 2012.
“If they put me in prison, it’s a life sentence for me,” says Harvey, who faces a sentence of at least 10 years if convicted.
In October, the Inlander wrote extensively about the Harvey case and the existing conflicts between state and federal law on marijuana. Many other publications as well as advocacy groups have singled out the Kettle Falls Five case as an example of the troubling legal gray areas surrounding marijuana legalization.
Marijuana advocacy group Americans for Safe Access also issued a news release today saying an upcoming U.S. Senate measure could shift DOJ practices on medical marijuana cases, revoking funding for such prosecutions.
Federal Judge Thomas Rice recently handed down the continuance after taking over for Judge Fred Van Sickle last month.
OUTLANDER serves as a weekly round up of Inland Northwest outdoor recreation and natural resources news. This feature will highlight a wide variety of issues and events, ranging from camping stories to national environmental disputes. We’ll also try to include some scenic photos. Feel free to pass along suggestions or curiosities that celebrate the Great Outdoors.
Happy Thanksgiving! Today officially starts the holiday season. Check out information on cutting your own Christmas tree in the Colville National Forest, or from national forest in Idaho. Get out there and find the perfect tree, just like the U.S. Capitol tree from last year. (Inlander/USFS)
Federal officials revoke permit for controversial wolf hunting derby scheduled for January in Idaho. (AP)
Learn a little about the the Inland Northwest’s redband trout in a new “Trout Tuesday” feature. (USFWS)
Suggestions for the best early season snoeshoeing trails in the Cascade and Olympic mountains. (Seattle Times)
A small North Dakota town grapples with constant train traffic. (Reuters)
Ghostly photos from the Idaho range. (Outdoor Photographer)
In a bizarre and tragic twist, investigators find a hiker took photos of a black bear in New Jersey prior to fatal attack. (NJ.com)
Some predictions for the next year in outdoor adventure, extreme sports and fitness. (Outside)
Turkey Day: How wild turkey transfer programs improve genetic diversity. (The Nature Conservancy)
While most city officials seem open to a proposal filed today to change how the mayor’s salary gets set, Spokane city council members may conflict over the timing of a ballot measure that would put the matter before voters next year.
Councilman Mike Fagan filed a ballot proposal today that would alter the city’s charter to have the Salary Review Commission, the same entity that sets the city council’s salaries, evaluate and set salary for the mayor. The issue arose earlier this fall after a preliminary budget included a $7,000 raise for the mayor.
“It’s very, very simple,” he says. “All we’re proposing is using the same mechanism [as applies to the council.] That is as simple as you can get.”
City council members had voiced strong opposition to the mayor’s proposed raise, sparking a strong public debate over whether the existing charter rules still served as the best method for determining salary.
Meanwhile, Fagan scheduled three public forums on the issue, noting a total combined attendance of just 10 people. In hopes of putting the issue before voters on the February ballot, he hurried to file a proposal this week for the council.
“I made the decision to step forward and address the issue myself,” he says.
The ballot proposal would shift responsibility for the mayor’s salary to the Salary Review Commission. Fagan noted that commission might have to be restructured to ensure an impartial decision, but he felt it would be the best alternative. The mayor proposed a similar change recently as part of an Affordability Plan.
“It’s something that the mayor supports,” city spokesman Brian Coddington says, “and it’s probably the next step in the conversation.”
Council President Ben Stuckart says there has not been much prior conversation, arguing Fagan filed the proposal without bringing it through the regular committee process. Stuckart says he doesn’t oppose the idea, but opposes the way it has been rushed through the process.
“The timing needs to be discussed," he says.
Stuckart explains Spokane Public Schools and Spokane Transit Authority officials have contacted him about the potential impact on their upcoming ballot measures. The council president says the salary issue unnecessarily “muddies the water.”
When the proposal comes before the council, Stuckart says, he plans to argue for delaying the issue until the ballot in August. Fagan says he doesn’t understand why Stuckart would let schools or the STA dictate how the city operates.
“Changing the charter is really, really an important thing,” Fagan says. “If this was as hot-buttoned as everybody says it was, why are we pushing this back to August?”
The council will likely discuss the issue in greater detail next week.
I think you're missing someone and his honor.
he got tired of the b.s. too, such a shame to lose him...
So, let me get this straight. The governor and the state legislature abdicate their responsibility…
Have the winners been contacted yet?
WHEN does this "week's" contest END ??