Sorry Charlie…


Sorry Charlie…

Charlie has swung back at me reference my position on having parking enforcement staff ease up once in a while and use some common sense. His response is here:

I agree with you that this “could” have been a PR moment. But you are making one major assumption. You are assuming that there haven’t been 5 other “PR moments” in the past. If we treated every situation in the manner that you described then there would never be a citation issued for these somewhat trivial infractions. But even the smaller infractions need to be enforced, and most importantly they need to be enforced consistently. I think your characterization that some enforcement personnel are sometimes overzealous . But I would argue that even police officers have this issue, and that both them and parking enforcement needs both. You know the type. He gets you for speeding, not wearing a seatbelt, reckless driving, not having your seat in the upright position, you didn’t call your mother on mother’s day….every last thing he can write you for, he does. Then you have the officer who gives you a BS ticket, no points, and says just pay the fine…… Just like how hockey teams need 1 enforcer so there star players don’t get ruffed up every play. You don’t hit the star to hard because you fear the repercussions.
So I will ask you. As you are driving down the road 10 miles an hour over the speed limit, which officer do you fear? .
Isn’t that what enforcement really is? Changing people’s behavior because of fear for the penalties. There are two ways to change people’s behavior. Its my “Wine and Dine or Fine rule”. I can either Wine and Dine you and encourage people to park where I want them to park( cheaper price, ease of access) or I can force them by having rules but there has to be some fine associated with it. I don’t like to load up on rules and fines but sometimes that is the only way to change the behavior.
Bottom line is that we need both types. When I have a situation that requires a hard line approach because I have worked with parker and warned them but to no avail, who am I sending?
I just think that from the window you saw these interactions from does not give you enough information to base a judgment on. I am willing to bet that both of these contractors have either been warned multiple times or have many many citations.
One final note…………
Don’t think that contractor is paying that ticket. You are in your rent! If they were half decent contractors they would have budgeted for it in their estimate.

Sorry, Charlie, but this is nonsense. You take an idea and press it to its extreme. Let’s be clear (clarity is more important than agreement.) I believe that parking citations should be tracked and if someone has been given a “pass” for whatever reason, that they should be nailed the second and future times. I agree with Don Shoup (Writing in Feb’s PT) that fines should be graduated and scofflaws should be hit severely.

The comparison with the traffic police is specious. Walking up to your car when a meter just runs out of time is a little different to driving a two ton machine over the speed limit. We’ve all done it, but when we get a ticket, we know that we have done something that is potentially dangerous to human life. Drunk drivers, speeders, those who run stop signs and red lights, throw the book at them. They are affecting my life. This is not quite the same as the fellow who is off loading his trailer full of cars. I can see no parallel at all.

It’s fairly obvious that the “fine” part of your “wine and dine and fine” rule hasn’t worked. We are not changing driver’s behavior; we are merely pissing them off. Enforcement people around the world tell me that only about 10% of the cars that should get citations ever get them. That means that if LA writes 50,000 citations a month, half a million people have broken the rules. Most drivers know that if they don’t put any money in the meter, or park in a permit only zone, the chances are only one in 10 that they will be cited. Why change the behavior?

Drivers believe that parking should be free and when we charge, they rebel. It’s as simple as that. Merchants complain, drivers become irate, and the parking enforcement people line up for flack jackets.

The question is, how do we change behavior so that people want to pay for parking? We could raise the fines to $500 an infraction and hire hundreds more officers and I’ll bet their behavior would change, but at what cost?

I offer an alternative. Why don’t we take the money collected at meters and citations and use it for something that people would support. How about that new wing at the hospital, or the new park, or paint the local school? Run an advertising campaign that showed kids playing in the park, or walking out of the hospital, or studying in school and tag the ad “Brought to you by your parking fees.

Wouldn’t people be more inclined to pay the fees and pay their citations if they knew where it was going? I’m not naïve. I know that this is nearly impossible since the cities have their money spending hands on the money and have funneled it into the general fund never to be seen again. However a good start might be giving front line staff the ability to make on the spot decisions (and track them.) We may be able to beat our customers into submission. But is that the only way. I don’t think so.


OH Yeah – your idea of just hitting people with fines and then letting their company’s pay for them will certainly never change the behavior, in fact just the opposite. UPS and Fedex were parking without paying in Manhattan and getting tickets. They simply paid them. Over a million dollars a year. A smart parking manager came up with an idea so that delivery drivers could use a daily permit and pay as they went. They simply bought a p and d permit and were allowed to move about the city with the same permit each day. When it ran out they bought another one. The city got its money, the drivers were happy, and all was right with the world. The fine didn’t change the behavior, an alternative did.


John Van Horn

John Van Horn

One Response

  1. I agree with you and Dr. Shoup, but let’s get back to what you described because that is not what the discussion was about. You had no way of knowing what the history of the contractor was before you made the judgment against the PEO. You did not know if they had a “pass” or not. You said it was a great PR moment, and I agreed it could have been, but the information supplied did not paint a clear picture. I do not think I took this to the extreme. Knowing the history is a vital piece of information that is needed for a judgment to be made. By accepting Dr. Shoups rationale for escalating fines you by default place a high importance on history, but you diseregard that same history in you judgment, that makes no sense. Sorry!
    You missed my intended point. To be clear, I wasn’t comparing the severity of the infractions but I was rather showing you an example of different enforcement strategies. There are different styles to enforcement, and a good manager knows when to use each style for the desired outcome. No matter how much you want, or think, our industry should act sometimes its unavoidable that we will have to play the tough guy(tactfully) for the better good from time to time.
    Actually I believe its half of that, 5%. New technologies, like StreetSmart that collect capture rates, are proving this. We are most certainly in the business of changing/molding people’s behavior. I’ll give you a perfect example. In State College we have a parking ban from 2am-6am. In 2008 we issued 12,236 violations at $10 a ticket. In 2009 we raised the fine to $25 and we issued 9,732. In 2010 the fine was still $25 and we issued 9,872. There was no change in staff levels or policies. The only thing that changed was the fine. If people’s behavior did not change, then please tell me what did? Our population increased and so did Penn States enrollment so a decrease in volume is not a valid reason. No other outside factor caused the 25% reduction. People found other ways to park overnight. Maybe they left the car back home, or they bought a monthly pass. Whatever it was, they changed their behavior. In this instance, there is a direct correlation between people’s behavior and the fine amount, and I am not near $500

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