Of the Keizertimes

Fines for park violations may soon go down – way down, technically.

The most common violations committed in city parks are failure to wear a helmet at Chalmers-Jones Skate Park, typically drawing fines and surcharges totaling about $122.

But it turns out the city technically should have been charging much more. All parks violations were classified as Class A violations. The base fine for a Class A violation, set by the state, has risen to $720.

Upon making the discovery city staff decided this was simply too high, said Shannon Johnson, Keizer’s city attorney.

“They’ve gone up tremendously in the past few years based on the legislature,” Johnson said. “They’ve increased assessments, surcharges, minimum fine amounts, and the dollar amount is just way more than staff thought was appropriate.”

The Keizer City Council is set to discuss next week reclassifying parks violations, which would have the legal effect of lowering every fine. But in practice, Johnson said, rule-skirting members of the public won’t see much of a difference.

Johnson said the discrepancy was discovered when a Keizer police officer, looking into a helmet violation, researched the city’s ordinance rather than an informal sheet used internally and found the city was actually undercharging the mandated fine amount for the offense.

“We realized the ordinance had all these other violations” as a Class A violation, Johnson said.

New base fines, plus assessments will be as follows:

Class D ($90): Helmet violation, entering or remaining in closed park; illegal parking or driving within a park; violating the leash law or setting out food for animals; operating model planes, cars or rockets; playing golf; solicitation; littering or unauthorized boat use.

Class C ($180): Exclusive use without a permit; placing a booth, structure or other equipment without an event permit or permit holder’s permission; tampering with signage or gates; entertainment without a permit; abandoning, removing or hunting animals; illegal fires; and smoking on trails, in bathrooms and in fire-prone areas.

Class B ($360): Water pollution; possessing or discharging fireworks; possessing firearms without proper permits.