Tuesday, September 25, 2012

PARKAtlanta gives TLC to downtown's 'giving meters,' will still ticket your car in a heartbeat

Posted By on Tue, Sep 25, 2012 at 12:07 PM

UGA colors in Georgia Tech and Georgia States hometown. Shameful.
  • Duncan Solutions
  • UGA colors in Georgia Tech and Georgia State's hometown. Shameful.
Atlanta's favorite private parking enforcer has emerged from its secret underground command center filled with money to spruce up a few "giving meters," the parking meter doppelgangers installed by the downtown business community to try and combat aggressive panhandling.

Central Atlanta Progress, which launched the “Give Change That Makes Sense” program, says PARKAtlanta's parent company, Wisconsin-based Duncan Solutions, has provided new casings, housings and poles, as well as a new red-and-black paint job for more than a dozen meters.

The downtown business community and city launched the initiative in 2008 to prevent panhandlers from asking tourists, workers, and residents for spare change. Rather than give coins and cash to panhandlers, tourists and residents were urged to feed the special meters. All the money collected is then disbursed to organizations that provide services to the homeless such as United Way’s Regional Commission on Homelessness, the Gateway 24/7 Homeless Services Center, and other groups.

The program's been tried in other cities such as Denver, Chattanooga, and Athens, Ga. And from a quick search of the Google Machine, other places such as Orlando and Virginia Beach have also installed the meters. Macon might even give 'em a try.

Whether they've been successful in Atlanta depends on whom you ask and how you define "success." In 2009, the AJC reported that downtown's 16 meters total collected about $5 a day. (We've asked CAP for an update of that figure.) And as we saw the last few weeks, with Mayor Kasim Reed and Atlanta City Councilman Michael Julian Bond disagreeing over legislation that could punish aggressive panhandling with up to six months in jail, the issue remains.

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