Nothing Good to Say about Parking Enforcement

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Nothing Good to Say about Parking Enforcement

Wow, I may be involved in this

Here is an on line article written by one Bob Sullivan, a reporter from MSNBC. It seems Mr. Sullivan has been aggressively researching parking and citation writing for the past few days. I was one of his sources. Of course not one word of what I said was in his article. I guess it wasn’t negative enough.

 

He started off asking about the law suit between Duncan and ACS. I told him I knew nothing, but felt that as in all such contests, each side probably had a story, and he should talk to them.

I then went on my usual trip about how parking fees can change the way people act. That if fees are set properly, there will be less pollution, less cruising, more spaces available for people who need to park in the area. I was about to go on about how many parking tickets never get written, but then we had to stop and were to pick it up again later. Of course he never did call back.

 

I was particularly struck in the article with the part about people who park too near corners at alleyways and driveways. To wit:

“I recently got a ticket for parking in a space on the street that I have been parking in for three years at least and never had a problem,” one resident wrote recently in an Internet group devoted to parking frustrations.   Said another: “We’ve received the unwanted attention of an overzealous meter maid.  (She) recently began ticketing residents’ cars for being too closely parked to our own driveways. Our 3 tickets state we have to park at least 5 feet away from a driveway … our own driveway.

 

Personally, after blocking fire hydrants, I think this is one of the worst parking violations. When you park too close to a corner, the driver backing out or driving out of the alley or driveway can’t see up or down the street. You are causing a great safety hazard. I note our interpret reporter didn’t ask the violators if they thought they were causing a safety problem when they parked too close to a driveway. I guess that isn’t important.

 

He comments about New York hiring 200 more enforcement officers this year, but missed the fact that the income didn’t go up in sync with the new hires. I guess finding out why wasn’t on the agenda.

 

Readers of this blog know that I am the first to step up and say that parking should not be a revenue generator to replace lost taxes. And if it does generate a substantial amount, then that money should be plowed back into the streets and neighborhoods from wince it came. However I also know that balance is not the goal of most reporters. They see the “spin” and then pile it on. There was not one single positive word in this article about parking, and not one quote from an enforcement officer, his manager, or the like.

 

A question Mr Sullivan might have asked is if enforcement of the law was so horrible, why isn’t the law changed? Rather than blame enforcement officers (Meter maids, he calls them), why not blame the people who passed the laws in the first place. If a rule is too stringent, then change it. There is absolutely no sense to saying “Oh, there’s a law, but the cops should ignore it because I don’t like it.” If you don’t like it, get your city council to change it.

 

Of course, when you do that, you find that there is a reason for the laws. I just roared at this one:

How aggressive is enforcement? Bolofsky said he’s seen New York drivers get tickets for double-parking merely because they are waiting for someone to pull out of a spot on the street – a time-honored practice in the competitive world of city parking.

 

I have driven in the big apple and one of the major problems is double parking, particularly cross town. You can’t get up and down the streets. People just stop and wait. It is a major hassle. I’ll bet if Mr. Sullivan were to interview the 20 people who had to wait while someone double parked and ran in for a latte or waited for a parking space, he would get a different kind of ear full.

 

Plus we are dammed by the very technology that makes ticket writing more fair and accurate:

If the system feels cold and unforgiving, that’s partly because many cities are using new technology that cuts out human interaction — and the criminal justice system — from the process. In Seattle, a pair of lawsuits are contesting the use of cameras to detect and cite speeders. Twenty area municipalities are named in the suit. In the city of Seattle, a new camera system wrote 58,000 tickets valued at $5 million in its first three months of operation.

Because the contracts promise a minimum payment to the cities, and the manufacturer agreed to split citation collections after that, one of the lawsuits contends the system gives “the cities and the vendors an illegal incentive to issue improper tickets and to err on the side of issuing a ticket versus declining to issue the ticket.”

Meanwhile, handheld electronic ticket issuing machines are sweeping municipalities, allowing meter maids to write more tickets – and more important, reduce errors that lead to dismissals.  One manufacturer, DXY Solutions Inc., says switching to handhelds increases a single officer’s ticket-writing productivity by 30 percent.

Other new technology seems downright mean-spirited. Parking meters invented and sold by the French firm Technolia send texts messages to local police the very instant that a meter clicks down to zero.

 

So now we are lumped in with speeders and red light cameras. Will it never end? The technology he quotes above of course enables enforcement to write more tickets, but it also ensures that they are more accurate, clearer, and cuts down on errors. Of course, that in itself seems to be a problem for our hero. After all, if someone is caught breaking the law, and can’t weasel out of it, that too, is a problem.

 

If Mr. Sullivan had called back, and he probably won’t after this blog, I would have told him about how parking fees can speed traffic, lower congestion, ensure that space is available for merchants, and can be one of the greenest things we know. I may not think that “green” is a particularly wonderful virtue, but most do, and parking fees and fines certainly are as green as it gets.

 

In most every case cited in his article, the people had broken the law and were upset because they had broken it before and gotten by with it but now they were nailed. It’s just not fair, I parked in a red zone 10 times and didn’t get a ticket, but now, I got one. Those bastards. I’m not responsible for my actions and the results for them, it’s the damn “meter maids,” and the money grubbing city.

 

It the problem that enforcement has been stepped up? Or is it that people are taking less responsibility for their actions? In the “good old days” we got a ticket and we were embarrassed and we paid it and next time we put another quarter in the meter. Today it’s the fault of technology, aggressive enforcement, or whatever.

There is not one comment on the fact that these people are breaking the law. Sigh

 

 

JVH


 

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John Van Horn

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