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PARKatlanta Decision: What Would You Have Done?

How do you feel about the increase in fines?

The Atlanta City Council for motorists who leave their vehicles parked at expired meters.

The council's decision — approved Monday — came despite a steady chorus of concern from residents who, for the last several weeks recounted tale after tale of difficulties with PARKatlanta, the group hired by the city to run parking enforcement.

The city is looking to recoup $4 million it lost following an arbitrator's decision that PARKatlanta did not need to pay roughly 75 percent what it was originally contracted to pay the city.

Some members of the city council felt the city needed to fix the problems with PARKatlanta first, rather than reach into motorists' pockets for more money.

How East Atlanta Patch's City Council representatives voted:

  • Natalyn Archibong - No
  • Kwanza Hall - Did not attend
  • Carla Smith - Yes
  • Alex Wan - No

What do you think the city should have done?

Terry Smith June 19, 2012 at 11:41 AM
Once again, government's outsourcing of basic services comes back to bite the citizens in the back side. Yeah, outsourcing and privatizing is working out so well.
Kirkwood Resident June 19, 2012 at 12:00 PM
I think you should have explained in a little more detail as to why the City lost the arbitrator's decision for ParkAtlanta to not have to pay the 75%. It may help to clarify who is more at fault. For example, they are raising fees to cover the cost of not paying ParkAtlanta what they originally contracted because the City cut areas that ParkAtlanta could enforce as well as made them invest additional money into additional meters, etc. Just curious because it helps to not make this story one sided. Also, people tend to see the millions of dollars in revenue but forget the other costs the City has to pay when they operated the parking enforcement themselves. For example, subtract the salaries of the parking meter people, the benefits, the office space, equipment purchasing for meters, vehicle upkeep, gas, cash deposit processing, bank fees, past due collections process, etc. Now what is the balance the City collected? Was that equal or less than what we are getting? Then you can tell if it is really worth it. That is the kind of information I would like to hear about before judging if we got a good or bad deal on how I feel about this. Because personally I think raising a cost more than 50% because the City made a mistake is ridiculous and not ParkAtlanta's fault. It is the City and those elected officials who made those decisions should be held responsible for cutting us a bad deal and then making us bail them out.
Clicker June 19, 2012 at 12:54 PM
Well said KR. Let's look into who negotitaed and inked this bad deal in the first place. Was it the same city council who is now raising fees to cover their sloppy business decisions? That would require actual journalism (as opposed to 'Vote for Best Taco!") You can't blame Park Atlanta. They were contracted to do a service at a price and that is what they are doing. Now, the residents are up in arms because something is happening that rarely happens any more - rules are being enforced and suddenly rule breakers have achieved victim status. Gimme a break!
Andrew June 19, 2012 at 04:22 PM
How much money has the city lost in sales tax revenue from local businesses as a result of the introduction of parking meters? The City of Atlanta is sacrificing one revenue stream for a smaller one, discouraging economic recovery, and contributing to higher unemployment as a result of decreased demand from patrons that want to avoid predatory and aggressive ticketing. The introduction of PARKatlanta has reduced the quality of life for the citizens of Atlanta and discourages visitors from returning to the city to spend money and contribute to our local economy. I will not vote for any person on the Transportation Committee that voted in favor of this measure. The contract with this company should be cancelled and the meters permanently removed.
johnk June 19, 2012 at 04:34 PM
Andrew is seeing the big picture here, great post.
Darin June 19, 2012 at 05:03 PM
I'm no fan of Park Atlanta in particular, but please don't remove meters downtown or in any place that has a mix of office, retail and residence. Office workers will take up street spaces all day and prevent people from being able to use them for quick visits to stores and restaurants (or from letting me park in front of my building temporarily to being up a load of groceries). There are some spots in the city that do need meters of some kind to prevent long term parking where it causes a problem.
Kirkwood Resident June 19, 2012 at 05:16 PM
free parking on city streets has shown to decrease business due to lack of turnover of prime parking spaces. What happens is employees of businesses park in the spaces since it is cheaper to park there than pay a monthly or hourly fee in a paid parking lot. Then all the businesses get upset because there is no street parking for their paing customers due to lack of turnover (i.e. see City of Decatur). Once you institute parking timeframes like 2-hour parking, you must enforce those parking timeframes, then you have to pay someone to enforce them. Now you need money to cover it, so you charge a small fee and a fine to deter people from not paying. Any major city has parking meters. Businesses downtown lose more customers to agressive panhandling, crime, and poor urban design than pay meters. People not finding parking spaces because they are full will make someone not come back to downtown.
Scott Sykes June 19, 2012 at 05:18 PM
Like any business, ParkAtlanta is making a profit. If the city had not skirted its responsibility to provide this basic service, the taxpayers would be the recipients of that profit, instead of another wealthy corporation.
Andrew June 19, 2012 at 05:27 PM
To clarify my previous statement, I understand the rationale around meters in dense locations. My comment was in reference to the Buckhead area, a much less dense part of town where metered streets remain perpetually vacant at the expense of surrounding residential neighborhoods. A great example is the intersection of Pharr Rd and N Fulton Dr where the metered norh side of the intersection is always vacant and the south side is bumper-to-bumper on both sides of the street. I'm sure residents of Little Five Points and other areas of similar density will agree.
Clicker June 19, 2012 at 06:05 PM
Simple solution - meter the south side as well.
Andrew June 19, 2012 at 06:30 PM
Even better, lets meter all swings at public parks and school desks K-12. We could also put turnsyles on sidewalks and you can pay per block walked.
Clicker June 19, 2012 at 07:35 PM
I guess if you had 50 kids wanting to swing on the same swing and 1 jerky kid hogging that swing, a meter might be a good idea. As for the school desks, they are already metered in a fashion. Not just anyone can walk in and sit at one. Turnstyles on sidewalks? I'll have to think on that one.
Darin June 19, 2012 at 08:16 PM
I see what you mean and having parking spill over into residential streets is certainly a problem to address. In my opinion, the better answer in that case is not to pull up meters and rid the city of that revenue stream, but to make sure that residential streets near metered streets are marked for cars with decals for that zone. That's the way it was when I lived in Midtown and it worked well -- the only problem comes when there's no enforcement available. And that's definitely a tricky situation, ensuring enforcement.
Péralte Paul (Editor) June 19, 2012 at 09:05 PM
I'm not sure I agree, Darin. Some parts of the city have homes with driveways, others don't. When people purchase a home or buy a condo, that's something they need to consider. The streets are public and I don't think people should have the expectation that they own the asphalt that runs along the front of their house. It's a hassle, but that's a headache that comes with living in a city. Nothing is more of a turnoff than driving to a neighborhood where all the residents put and leave their Herbie Curbies in the street to block parking access. Then there are the homeowners who park their cars just so, so the end result is they take up two spots. I can think of one neighborhood in this Patch that's particularly guilty of those things all the time. When I lived in Brooklyn, if there wasn't a spot in front of or near our building, we parked down the street or around the corner and walked. No one fainted at the thought of walking a block or two.
Bob Crossett June 19, 2012 at 11:44 PM
Whoa! Wait a minute....Kwanza Hall was not even present for this very important meeting???!! Interesting he gives the right soundbites, but he is not even present for the vote. Unbelievable. We must take back our city...one council member at a time.
Darin June 20, 2012 at 01:18 AM
"I don't think people should have the expectation that they own the asphalt that runs along the front of their house" I like that line of thinking, Péralte. It would be difficult to shift away from the expectation of ownership (of a kind) of the asphalt in front of houses, but what you say makes good sense. People in intown neighborhoods sometimes do have too much of a suburban-subdivision-type expectation of ownership of the street. In my downtown condo building, we have 15-minute parking spots on two sides of the building for loading and unloading, then you have to actually park in a garage a couple of blocks away (our building has no dedicated parking). The unloading parking is a nice amenity and it's a shared one, so it doesn't belong to any one person. It's an access-versus-ownership thing and that works well.
Dominique Huff June 20, 2012 at 12:42 PM
Admittedly, when Atlanta Police handled parking enforcement, it was only enforced within the high density, high volume areas only (like Georgia State, hospitals, Buckhead, etc). When they had budget shortfalls, more of a priority was given to officers, patrol cars, etc rather than parking enforcement. This is the same argument that is made when cities want to keep police and code enforcement separately. Atlanta is desperate for money. Kasim Reed wants APD writing 200,000 traffic tickets yearly. The city has ParkAtlanta terrorizing parkers to get plenty of money. I blame city of Atlanta residents for this. These are people who you guys elect. You don't hold them accountable, support people who run against them. This is why you have these problems. Anytime a city is more concerned about civil rights museums, defending criminals, anti-commerce and so on, that is a problem. It doesn't help when you have Atlanta media that likes to cheerlead for the government as well. We have a few journalists who do investigative reporting but most journalists now want to be friends with the politicians.
Meinert June 26, 2012 at 01:47 PM
ParkAtlanta, and the concept behind it (actively seeking out 'violators' electronically and fining them as a revenue stream), is very counterproductive to my local business friends in the VaHi retail shops. In my opinion, the goal should be to help patrons find spaces in order to shop at these stores. My understanding is that in San Francisco, for example, there is a system in place where meters tell you when they're unoccupied through the use of a smart phone app. Here in the big ATL we do the opposite: we create an inconvenient system (just sit a Georges and watch somebody try to figure out how to pay) that is designed with the goal of making money by overcharging (fining) customers who want to support local business. It's bogus. The meter enforcement personnel are electronically notified when a vehicle's time has expired so they hover then pounce. I agree with Andrew above: scrap it and send ParkAtlanta back to Cincinnati.
Bob Crossett June 26, 2012 at 08:16 PM
Why are 90% of these parking meters in Midtown, Virginia Highland and Little 5 points? If our "leaders" insist on this system, why not equally place them in the other areas of the city as well?

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