Park rangers in Portland, Oregon are considered by city officials as well as by the rangers themselves as ambassadors for the Portland park system. They are seen as the “friendly faces” that greet visitors and help people in the parks who suffer an emergency or are in need in other ways. Unfortunately for Portland’s rangers, however, they have had the unpleasant task of being responsible for issuing parking tickets around the city’s parks. But now thanks to a mandate passed by city officials, Portland’s full-time and part-time park rangers will no longer have to issue tickets.
Parking meters at Washington Park, Portland’s largest public park, were brought online earlier this year and park rangers were handed the responsibility of issuing parking tickets on those meters. Park ranger union representatives were extremely unhappy about the decision because they said the task of issuing parking tickets does not fit within the job description of Portland’s rangers.
The union that represents Portland’s more than 50 existing parking code enforcement officers did not take kindly to the news about park rangers being given their job around the city’s public parks. But after less than 9 months of the mandate being in place, the city of Portland bent to the pressure put on by the parking code enforcer’s union and settled the union dispute before the October 15th arbitration.
Representatives for the Portland park ranger’s union say that they understand that the overall job of their rangers is providing service to visitors of the city’s park system and that the city saw issuing parking citations as part of that service. However, they also say that issuing tickets detracts from the positive image that visitors have of park rangers and that it would be a detriment to the quality of service rangers provide if they were made to continue issuing citations.