Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Parking Policy or Municipal Rip-Off?

By Dennis R. Lieb















(The Infamous Keystone Cops)


I've been dissatisfied for a long time now with the antagonistic behavior and lack of common sense being exhibited by Easton's Parking Enforcement Division. Last year I was double ticketed ($50 total fine) for having an expired inspection and emission sticker on my car. I was properly parked within the lines on Northampton Street, in a legal space with over an hour on the meter and was not in violation of any parking regulation. I was engaged in real estate business downtown: trying to market Easton property to prospective buyers. I believe in metered parking and intelligent parking management and I never park without paying the meter, but the city's policy seems to be taking advantage of harmless situations to screw hard-working citizens when the opportunity presents itself...such as seeking out
otherwise legally parked cars with expired stickers - something that has no effect on parking management - simply to generate ticket revenue.

I thought this practice was limited to downtown and to metered parking hours. Apparently it has been expanded to all parts of the city at any time. This is the situation that prompted my most recent ire. I am including the following exchange between me and the city Planning Director to explain the latest incident:

Sorry for the late notice ---

There is a meeting scheduled for Monday, 9/20 @ 6:30 pm in the Gold Room of The Grand Eastonian Suites Hotel. The results of the Street Smart Parking study will be revealed at that time and presented to the public. This concerns parking issues in our downtown area and the City is looking for our feedback. If you can at all clear your schedule to be there, it would be appreciated.

Thanks and have a great weekend!

Becky


(I received the above email on Friday)

Becky,

Thanks...I guess short notice is better than no notice. I would have liked to come to this tonight because I think I have a vast amount of knowledge to add to the parking discussion since I've been studying it for years. But I couldn't get away on short notice...I had a porch repair project planned on College Hill tonight. I need all the extra money I can get right now. Ironically, while I was working on the porch, one of our asshole parking enforcement officers ticketed my car while I was working fifty feet away. Why are they roaming the residential neighborhoods at 7 o'clock at night and pro-actively trying to piss people off? I broke no parking rules whatsoever...I was ticketed for having an expired inspection sticker. Since it is getting dark earlier now, this is something that would have required them getting out of their car and searching out people to ticket. This is nothing less than opportunistic revenue generation at the public expense.

I've said this before and I'll say it again; when someone has broken no parking regulations why the hell are these assholes alienating and infuriating residents with this kind of shit? I could understand it if I had been illegally parked in some way and they had to examine the car as a result but I did nothing wrong and was parked on a residential street after business hours.

I am killing myself working seven days a week just to pay my bills and these dumb jerk-offs are stealing money from me for the freakin city's general fund. I am going to be blogging about this and I will NOT be nice about what I say. We need some parking enforcement policy changes in this town - especially under current economic conditions. I'm sick of being used as a cash cow by the parking enforcement assholes when I can barely afford to get my car inspected in the first place. That's why I don't have a sticker - they always find something wrong and I can't afford the repairs!

I am really pissed...they are actually lucky I didn't show up tonight.

DRL


I guess I should be greatful it was only $25 this time (only because the seperate inspection and emmision categories have been combined into one on the new ticket form). I know that nobody ever wants to pay a ticket but that isn't my issue. Why are they seeking to cause trouble where there isn't any need for it while at the same time there is blatant illegal parking all over the West Ward? Why are driveway curb cuts for off-street parking approved when it privatizes parking spaces while removing an equal amount of public parking from the neighborhood? Why won't we paint our curbs to proper standards and keep dangerous sight line obstructions open to avoid accidents or possible traffic injuries? I know there are to-close-to-the-corner violations all over the place; 12th and Jackson being one I deal with daily.

I'd like to know if anyone else out there is experiencing stupid parking policies that are negatively affecting their quality of life (and wallet). I can't be the only one who thinks this is bad policy.

23 comments:

michael molovinsky said...

although your mayor keeps saying that allentown and easton are different places, wait until your great white elephant is built; aka lanta terminal, parking deck and al bundy high school hall of memories. the parking authority will have to racket up their aggressiveness considerably, to meet their portion of the bond debt obligation.

noel jones said...

if parking in enforcement is actually hunting through legally parked cars in hopes of finding people who are in struggling financial times (most of us) to ticket, that's really slimy.

i, however, have been ticketed twice for forgetting to move my car for street cleaning, and have paid the tickets gladly, as it was my own dumb fault, and i and other residents fought hard for the street cleaning that has made a huge positive difference in the appearance of the neighborhood. it doesn't stop people from littering, but it definitely helps to have the litter swept up from the streets once/week.

i have now set a reminder on the calendar on my laptop for the night before, to remind me to move the car, so the learning curve is now complete.

Anonymous said...

While I understand your frustration with the over the top parking enforcement, the fact remains that not one, but two times you were cited for the same violation. Why not get the car inspected?

I understand that sometimes money, a chronic problem with a vehicle, etc, gets in the way of getting an inspection done. But to complain about being cited for an obvious violation comes across as just being "cranky".

Anonymous said...

Excuse me but we are all having money problems and to put it simply ----- you are breaking the law!! It is that simple. Make all the excuses you want and blame the officer for doing their job. The fact is you are guilty, plain and simple.

parking del aeropuerto de barcelona said...

Interesante! Saludos

Anonymous said...

Maybe you should have things done, but state police usually give you a warning and five days to remedy the problem. I think Easton is proposing to increase tickets to $20. It may be more about the money and it is not a good way to raise revenues.

noel jones said...

This may be of interest--I just noticed under "Pending Legislation" on the City Council web page that Jeff Warren has legislation pending that reads:

"NEW: Section 399-21 (B) Vehicles with three or more unpaid tickets, of which at least two of those tickets are over 10 days old, may be immobilized (the boot). Vehicles which are immobilized will be assessed a fee, as specified in Chapter 285, Fees, plus satisfaction of all unpaid penalties before their release. Upon immobilization, a certified letter will be sent to the last registered owner informing him/her of the reason for the immobilization, and the process for release of the vehicle. Vehicles not released within three (3 days) of immobilization will be towed to a storage facility of the City’s choice and will accrue towing and storage charges in addition to any other accrued fees and penalties."

noel jones said...

What I don't understand about the above pending legislation is that, if a certified letter explaining the reason for the boot is sent out on the day that the vehicle is immobilized, that letter will take a few days to get to the recipient, and yet the legislation says that if the car is not released within three days, it will be impounded...

noel jones said...

This, also, is pending legislation from Jeff Warren:

OLD: 285-44 – Meter Parking Tickets Meter Parking Tickets: $10.00 within seven calendar days

NEW: 285-44 – Meter Parking Tickets Meter Parking Tickets: $20.00 within seven calendar days

If there's one thing Eastonians are passionate about, it's parking. It should be an interesting City Council meeting tomorrow night...the agenda still hasn't been updated on line, but I think it's a pretty safe guess that "pending legislation" will be on it...

noel jones said...

This is also under pending legislation, by Ken Brown--can someone explain to me what this means, and how it has become acceptable in our our society to tax people and use that tax money without presenting the explanations for that use of tax money in language that a lay person paying taxes can understand?

"AN ORDINANCE:

OF THE COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF EASTON, NORTHAMPTON COUNTY, PENNSYLVANIA, AUTHORIZING THE ISSUANCE OF A GENERAL OBLIGATION NOTE (THE “NOTE”) IN THE AGGREGATE PRINCIPAL AMOUNT NOT TO EXCEED $9,050,000; SETTING FORTH THE PURPOSE OF THE ISSUANCE OF THE NOTE, TO FUND CERTAIN CAPITAL PROJECTS OF THE CITY OF EASTON PURSUANT TO THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT UNIT DEBT ACT; DETERMINING THAT THE NOTE SHALL BE SOLD AT PRIVATE SALE; DETERMINING THE PROJECTS AND ESTABLISHING THEIR USEFUL LIFE; DETERMINING THAT THE DEBT EVIDENCED BY THE NOTE SHALL BE NONELECTORAL DEBT; SETTING FORTH THE INTEREST RATES, INTEREST AND PRINCIPAL PAYMENT DATES AND FINAL MATURITY OF THE NOTE AND THE PREPAYMENT PRIVILEGES; ACCEPTING A PROPOSAL FOR THE PURCHASE OF THE NOTE; DESIGNATING A PAYING AGENT FOR THE NOTE; SETTING FORTH THE METHOD AND PLACE OF PAYMENT OF THE NOTE; APPROVING THE FORM OF THE NOTE; AUTHORIZING THE EXECUTION OF THE NOTE; ENTERING INTO A COVENANT WITH RESPECT TO THE NOTE AND PLEDGING THE CITY'S FULL FAITH, CREDIT AND TAXING POWER THEREFORE, AND ESTABLISHING A SINKING FUND FOR THE NOTE; DESIGNATING A SINKING FUND DEPOSITORY; SETTING FORTH CERTAIN ADDITIONAL TERMS WITH RESPECT TO THE NOTE; AUTHORIZING APPROPRIATE OFFICERS TO FILE UNDER SECTION 8110 OF THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT UNIT DEBT ACT WITH THE DEPARTMENT OF COMMUNITY AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT, INCLUDING PROCEEDINGS UNDER SECTION 8024 OR 8026 OF THE ACT; DECLARING THE DEBT EVIDENCED BY THE NOTE TO BE WITHIN THE LIMITATIONS OF THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT UNIT DEBT ACT; MAKING CERTAIN FEDERAL TAX COVENANTS; AUTHORIZING DELIVERY OF THE NOTE; AUTHORIZING INVESTMENT OF THE PROCEEDS OF THE NOTE; PROVIDING FOR INVALID PROVISIONS; PROVIDING FOR INCONSISTENT
ORDINANCES; PROVIDING WHEN THE ORDINANCES SHALL BECOME EFFECTIVE."

Dennis R. Lieb said...

I'll have some responses to your various anonymous comments tomorrow. Right now I need to get some sleep. Thanks for the fast responses.

DRL

Alan Raisman said...

Noel, where do you find pending legislation? Where on the City website? It might be a very good blog post to inform people where they can access this information so they can be aware of which City Council meetings they should or might want to attend.

noel jones said...

Click on the City of Easton tab on the right of this home page, then:

City Government
City Council Agenda/Minutes

Once you're on that Agenda page, there are three links right above the schedule that read:

Regular Meeting Agenda
Conference Meeting Agenda
Pending Legislation

noel jones said...

The City Council Meeting Agenda is finally up for tonight's meeting--pending legislation on parking will be discussed, among other issues--residents have the right to speak during CITIZENS RIGHT TO BE HEARD early on for items on the agenda (i.e., parking legislation) or at the end ON ANY MATTER:

CITY COUNCIL AGENDA
Stated Session (18) Wednesday September 22, 2010 6:00 P.M.

1. CALL TO ORDER
2. INVOCATION
3. PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE
4. ROLL CALL
5. APPROVAL OF AGENDA
6. ACTION ON MINUTES – September 7, 2010 Council Meeting and CDBG Public Hearing

7. CITIZENS RIGHT TO BE HEARD – (Agenda Items Only)

8. REPORTS RECEIVED BY COUNCIL
a) Fire Department Monthly Report for August, 2010
b) Minutes from the Easton Suburban Water Authority’s August 9, 2010 meeting
c) Easton Suburban Water Authority Engineer’s Report of September 7, 2010

9. ACCEPTING REPORTS ON BEHALF OF COUNCIL.

10. REPORTS OF COMMITTEES (a) Finance (b) Economic Development (c) Planning (d) Public Safety (e) Public Works (f) Administration (g) Report of City Solicitor (h) Report of Mayor

11. UNFINISHED BUSINESS (a) Action on Legislative Bills. 1. Bill 26, Approving a Subdivision Improvements Extension Agreement 2. Bill 27, Amending Miscellaneous Grant Fund

12. CORRESPONDENCE – None

13. NEW BUSINESS (a) Introduction of Legislative Bills
1. Bill No. 28 – Amending Section 399.21 – Violations and Penalties
2. Bill No. 29 – Amending Section 560-10 - Authority to Remove & Impound
3. Bill No. 30 – Amending Section 560-54 – Parking Restrictions for Street Cleaning
4. Bill No. 31 – Amending Section 285-44 – Meter Parking Tickets
5. Bill No. 32 – Amending Section 560 – Traffic Control Map
6. Bill No. 33 – Authorizing Issuance of General Obligation Note
(b) Authorizing the Mayor and City Controller to sign contracts pertaining to work for the North Third Street Streetscapes Improvements Project (R) (c)Approving a Certificate of Appropriateness for 60 N. 4th St.(R) (d) Approving a Certificate of Appropriateness for 140 D Northampton St. (R) (e) Approving a Certificate of Appropriateness for 30-32 S. Sitgreaves St. (R) (f) Approving a Certificate of Appropriateness for 229 Spring Garden St. (R) (g) Approving a Cooperation Agreement with the Housing Authority (R)

14. CITIZENS RIGHT TO BE HEARD - On any matter.

15. ADJOURNMENT

Sandra said...

I agree with Mr,Molovinsky Easton is stumbling down the road to a similar cash cow that Allentown reaps and rapes the Community for the big P word PARKING.
I lived in Allentown and had my run ins with the Parking Authority.I lived on South 11th Street as a good citizen and taxpayer,I got my parking permit so that I could park on my street.I though I could park near my apartment bit I was wrong.I had a zone that I could park in 2 blocks from my apartment.There were only 6 meters for for a good 10 apartment houses. If you managed to be lucky enough to get a meter,no worries.But with most of the houses multi unit dwellings.It was like trying to put 20 lbs of trash in a 10 pound can. Thus the great wonder and cash cow that Allentown Calls the "Parking Authority"
And if you can't see that Easton is headed in the same direction you either don't have a car or have not spent a winter in Easton.
And this legislation will create the same cash cow as it has in Allentown. Do not be naive and think that this is in the Community's interest,the only interest is that of our elected officials in an attempt to close the gap on a budget that has a big problem trying to meet the debt obligation of the bond issue.

And as for the Ken Brown' ordinance.If I am mistaken correct me but the Home Rule Charter allows such legislature and gives the Council the right to borrow to fund the projects it deems necessary albeit with or without approval of the residents or without any input from the Community.Remember folks you can't fight City Hall you can only remember who what and when at election time!

Anonymous said...

my word, just obey the laws and you won't have a problem. I've lived here most of my life and have never gotton a ticket for any parking issue, inspection or registration. You are whining about something that you shouldn't have to whine about. Just follow the rules. If you don't think the rules are fair then go to the meeting and offer an alternative.

Anonymous said...

As far as Allentown goes, the parking enforcement program emptied their downtown. If you walk on Linden during the day you will find empty parking spaces. Linden is one block off Hamilton. The same is happening in our downtown. If you venture off Northampton or Third you find empty spaces on Spring Garden and Second. Businesses have left and residents continue to leave. They say residents have a hundred dollar permit available. Except the permit is not available for the resident's friends, relatives or caregivers. They must pay the freight. But, residents will tell you that one ticket and you have lost a friend or a relative. I think the cash cow is only temporary.

Anonymous said...

Why cant they enforce the Landlord policy to make money. Fining those that have three incidents. The cops are not doing this.

Also the idea to find vacant property owners (years vacant with no plan for use) - they should go after this stuff.

noel jones said...

Anon 10:20--that is actually code officers' responsibility, and they claim that they are citing properties, but that the landlords have the money to fight in court and drag the process out. The mayor also said that there is a huge problem in that our elected judges give slumlords a slap on the hand rather than maximum fines. Makes you wonder where there campaign contributions are coming from. Elected judges are a problem, and I believe they are elected for 10 years at a time. If anything is ever going to change in the code enforcement arena, we will have to keep a close eye on the judges and judges elections, and get engaged in the political process when it's time to replace them.

If we as a community keep just sitting back pointing fingers and complaining, we will continue to get screwed. It is time to ENGAGE.

I am really envious of the Tea Party for their level of political engagement nationwide on local, state and national levels. Why is that they can do it, and those with more progressive views can't?

Until fixing our local system is more important to people than TV and movies, the status quo will remain.

Anonymous said...

okay let start naming the names of the judges.

Anonymous said...

Looks like the city forgot to sweep north 2nd st this thursday, maybe because there was no revenue parked there at the time.

Some of these posts make me want to become mayor. The first order of business? Declare breathing illegal, unless someone has a better method of weeding out the sheeple?

David Caines said...

Well, I am going to get on the wrong side of this one. But yes, the law is the law and for good reason. I don't mind the EPA ticketing uninspected cars (even though we got one of those tickets). They were right, it was uninspected. What I do sometimes find funny is that most of us want preferential enforcement. And that's kind of a problem. I wasn't thrilled with my ticket, but it did force me to decide to get rid of the truck. Which made more space on my street. And it's not like I didn't know it was illegal. We all want a break and who can blame us, time are hard...but well doesn't everyone then qualify?
One of the not so great benefits of living in a community. We all know we have to pay the meters and we all know when our vehicle shouldn't be on the road. We've also all seen basically abandoned cars here and there around town...though I don't see as much of that anymore.
We all want enforcement, but only for the other guy...the one who's really doing something wrong...the no look he's way worse than me- defense.
Sorry Denis, I think we agree on most other things, but not here. I am looking forward to more parking enforcement. It really is a bear to get a spot downtown or in front of the house in a snow storm. As to the greater issue?
This just doesn't phase me. We have to pay for it somehow, how about by getting the money from those who breach the law?
Now, with that said, I'm going to make sure I have a quarter for the next time I pick Jeanette up.
Thanks,
David

Anonymous said...

Jeez! Does anyone else think the cursing in the email Dennis sent to Becky is totally inappropriate and unprofessional? Get a grip, man. Many of us are suffering financially right now, that doesn't give us license to be rude in our personal and professional communications. I know people who are in foreclosure who are still the gracious, kind people they have always been.
I've been ticketed for the same reason by the EPA. Is it irritating to see them driving down the street looking specifically for expired inspection stickers? Yeah, it is. I've been given a warning by the State Police. That was nice of them, but it's my responsiblilty as the owner of a vehicle to follow the laws concerning that ownership. I am fortunate to have a long-standing relationship with my mechanic and he has allowed me to make payments on needed repairs over several months. I can't blame anyone but myself for forgetting every single year to have my car inspected, and I do forget...every single year.