As if Atlanta motorists don't have enough reasons to be slightly enraged when behind the wheel.
Now, they could be looking at paying more in fines when parked at an expired meter.
On Monday, the full Atlanta City Council is expected to discuss and possibly vote on proposed legislation that could have motorists doing just that.
If approved, the legislation, drafted by at-large Atlanta City Councilman H. Lamar Willis, increases the initial fine for an overstayed meter by $10 to $35. If the ticket is not paid within 14 days, the fee doubles to $70. And if it's still not fully paid within 45 days, the penalty increases to $95.
The June 18 meeting of the council at 1 p.m.follows a June 13 meeting of its transportation committee which approved the proposal out of committee.
District 1 Councilwoman Carla Smith, whose area includes Grant Park, Peoplestown and Woodland Hills, is on the transportation committee. Along with fellow transportation committee councilmembers Keisha Lance Bottoms, C.T. Martin, Yolanda Adrean and Michael Julian Bond, she voted "yes."
Councilwoman Felicia A. Moore was the lone dissenting committee vote.
The proposed increase will apply to tickets issued for overtime parking at metered spaces and not to violators of residential permit parking in neighborhoods that have them, such as Inman Park.
The changes come after city officials considered in May the possibilty of extending parking enforcement hours at meters past midnight citywide. But residents vehemently pushed back and that proposal suffered a quiet death.
All of the proposals are being considered in an effort to recoup approximately $4 million the city will not receive following an arbitrator’s ruling that PARKatlanta does not need to pay the city almost three-quarters of what it originally was contracted to pay. This followed the city council's move last year to restrict the Milwaukee-based company’s operations with a moratorium on reduced hours and new meters.
It was reported that the $4 million difference would be enough to afford 50 police officers.
Since PARKatlanta began issuing tickets almost 31 months ago, more than 150,000 unpaid tickets have run up a total of $7.4 million. The latest proposed increase in fines would not be applied retroactively.
District 2 City Councilman Kwanza Hall, whose area includes Inman Park and Old Fourth Ward, has been a critic the city’s PARKatlanta contract. Last month, he with PARKatlanta, which would cost about $8 million for each year left on the contract. The contract would expire in about two-and-a-half years.
“You sometimes need to know when to cut and move on and get a better deal,” Hall said.
About half of PARKatlanta’s 2,500 meters are in Hall’s district and critics have complained that the organization’s enforcement has targeted the city’s entertainment and business centers, which includes Little Five Points.
Last year, several business owners along Euclid Avenue told him one impediment to business what what they characterized as aggressive parking enforcement by PARKatlanta.
At least one City Council member said she's not ready to vote for the measure — at least not yet. But she added the attention the city's parking issue has received is good because it should result in a final result that's acceptable to all affected constituencies.
"There's so many questions swirling around," District 5 Councilwoman Natalyn Archibong told East Atlanta Patch. "It’s a great opportunity to ty to vet all the things that need to be vetted for the new cotntract but, at this point, I would not vote in support of it."
So Atlanta, are you ready, willing and able to pay more for those parking tickets?