Monday, November 19, 2012

City Council OKs changes to PARKatlanta's contract

Posted By on Mon, Nov 19, 2012 at 6:04 PM


The Atlanta City Council unanimously voted today to approve more than 20 changes to PARKatlanta's contract, a move they think will make the parking enforcer's policies more transparent and accountable.

The 20-plus amendments introduced by Atlanta City Councilman H. Lamar Willis clarify parking rules and create additional guidelines for PARKatlanta, the Wisconsin-based private company that took over the enforcement of Atlanta's public parking three years ago. Willis introduced the changes, with support from Mayor Kasim Reed, at an Atlanta City Council committee meeting earlier this month.

In return, City Hall would receive $200,000 less each year from the PARKatlanta. That equals a 3.6 percent decline, decreasing from $5.5 million to $5.3 million.

According to the mayor's office, PARKatlanta would also have to make the following changes to its enforcement practices:

- Establishing four parking zones with tailored hours of enforcement to align with the requirements in each zone
- Elimination of overnight parking fees in all zones
- Elimination of Saturday enforcement in Mixed Use (primarily residential) zone
- Elimination of Sunday enforcement in all zones

In addition, the contract revisions would improve signage, customer service support, and the online appeals process. To do that, some of the new amendments include:

- Tickets cannot be issued in the case of unclear signage or broken meters.
- The vendor is responsible for all meter-related signs, and must remedy issues within two business days;
- In areas where signs are illegible, blocked, missing or otherwise unclear, ticketing will not be enforced until the sign is corrected.
- Parking violations must be able to be appealed online and all fines frozen until appeal is resolved.
- Complaints must be easily filed online and the vendor must respond within two business days.
- Ticket cancellation and $35 fee for each infraction, including issuing tickets when signage is unclear, issuing tickets when meters are broken, or unprofessional behavior toward constituents.
- City establishes the right to request removal of vendor employees that behave unprofessionally.

Councilwoman Felicia Moore, who initially opposed the revisions, wanted to ensure PARKatlanta's signage accurately reflected ticketable offenses. She wanted an additional amendment added to the legislation saying that the agency "cannot enforce beyond what a sign specifies" (i.e. cracking down on people for feeding a meter when a signs doesn't say it's forbidden).

Since City Hall contracted with PARKatlanta in late 2009, the private parking company has become public enemy no. 1 in the eyes of many motorists, some of whom have complained about the firm's dogged approach when it comes to ticketing scofflaws. But it seems, in a way, that the tables have turned. Should PARKatlanta improperly issue a ticket, it will now be fined by the city.

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