Two Coeur d’Alene council members called out for overstaying in parking spots

As many in the city of Coeur d’Alene are protesting the new parking fee changes that went into effect back in May, the man behind the North Idaho Exposed YouTube channel caught two city council members overstaying in the 15 minute parking spots outside of city hall.

Those 15 minute parking spots are in a free lot, but became enforceable with the passage of the parking fee changes.

Casey Whalen, a self-described independent journalist of North Idaho Exposed, activist and concerned citizen says what he taped isn’t a good look for the council members.

“At the end of the day, you passed the ordinance, you need to live up to what you passed,” he said.

The two council members he says he caught overstaying were Dan Gookin and Amy Evans.

4 News Now reached out to them for their take on what happened and both said they had parked in the quick in and out spots, because they were going to what they expected to be a quick in and out meeting. They say the city’s general services meetings usually only run 10-15 minutes. City video of the meeting showed it ran around 17 minutes.

Evans says she never wants to break a rule, but got caught up speaking with constituents after the meeting, and was only a couple of minutes late. Had she found a ticket on her car when she came out, she says she would have gladly paid it.

Gookin says that in many ways city council members, himself included, have taken advantage of the open parking, and he won’t be parking there again. He says the habit of parking there began before the 15 minutes was enforceable.

“It was inevitable that someone would say ‘hey these are council people and they are parking here,” he said. “We aren’t special and we don’t get special priviledge and I’m glad someone pointed it out.”

He says the 15 minute parking spots are for those with city business and put in place to discourage city employees from using them as all day spots as well as folks looking for all day parking to go to the park.

“We shouldn’t really be taking these spaces anyways,”he said, “these are for people going in and out, we can hunt, we are employees.”

He said for constituents with city business, they shouldn’t be afraid that the city is going to become the minute police, but if someone is concerned or the time violation is blatant, they can be ticketed.

“With the new code that people aren’t really happy about, this is now enforceable, so if you see someone parked here longer than 15 minutes and you want to call the cops, you can call the cops.”

The free parking lot isn’t enforced by a company like Diamond Services, and operates on the honor system. The city says it’s worked thus far, and doesn’t anticipate hiring a company in the future.

Because it’s the police department that will be enforcing it, the response is up to them. They will prioritize it based on what else they are dealing with.
Whalen says that if the signs weren’t really expected to be enforced in the first place, they shouldn’t have gone up.

“Why waste people’s time and money?” he said.

As part of the video he made showing the council members parked in the 15 minute spot, he noted that Gookin stayed in his car after being confronted, for almost an hour. Whalen had the police called on Gookin.

Gookin said, at that point there was no real reason to leave.

“If the police came and wrote me a ticket, theoretically I can stay all day, so at that point the damage is done, and I had some phone calls to make,” he said.

Police did not ultimately respond and Gookin left.

He told 4 News Now that in regards to the parking fees and the uproar around them, the council has been surprised.

He said the first hearing when they were discussed, noboody showed up.

Following last week’s meeting when dozens did to voice their concerns he says the council is looking into proposed changes, potentially offering parking passes for folks who just want to be able to come to the park for an hour before carrying on with their day.

As to what to make of his video, Whalen says it’s up for the public to decide.

For a list of parking fees in downtown Coeur d’Alene click here.