HOLMBERG: Is Richmond stepping up parking ticket enforcement?
RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR)–Last Friday we told you about Rand Burgess, owner of The Camel nightspot, getting arrested because tried to give his customers time to move their cars while police were ticketing them for a late-night parking ban on West Broad Street that hadn’t been enforced in a decade.
Second district City Councilman, Charles Samuels said the new enforcement was caused by a new kind of complaint – that not all no-parking signs are not treated equally.
“Because selective enforcement has become kind of a catch phrase in Richmond,” he said. “My understanding is they did not want to get caught in a situation of selective enforcement.”
Samuels is working to get that old ban lifted. He said he and others had already been working on a legal remedy to the old parking ban on Broad that was enacted to combat cruising and parking a generation ago.
But we wondered, is the city stepping up ticketing in these tight budgets times?
Here’s what we found.
Back in 2008, parking violations were a $3 million pot of gold for City Hall.
They expected that to go up about three quarters of a million by 2010.
But the pot of gold grew even more that year, to nearly $3,994,000, and budget makers hoped to ring up almost an extra million the next year.
But 2011 wasn’t as bountiful as expected and the total slipped just a tiny bit.
Still, they’re planning on making $5 million next year with parking tickets. The city has a new enforcement contractor.
That’s a big jump, but nothing compared to cash-strapped cities like Washington DC. According to AAA Mid-Atlantic, D.C. got more than $92 million from parking tickets last year, a $12 million jump over the year before.
Much denser cities really rake it in. New York City gets about $600 million from tickets.
Some smaller cities, about our size, bring in far less than we do. Raleigh, for example, gets less than $1 million.
As we call know, nothing can wreck an evening out like a parking ticket or a tow.
It’s all part of Richmond’s nightmarish parking problem. It can be all-but impossible to find a spot, particularly in areas when Virginia Commonwealth University’s 30,000 students park.
Mary Richie McGuire lives on West Avenue in the Fan, a street bordering VCU, a church and a synagogue. “Sometimes you can’t find a parking space,” she said. “Late at night, why can’t I park in front of my house?”
She lives in the one of the Fan neighborhoods where residents pay for restrictive parking decals, a practice the city is thinking about expanding.
Do they work? “Yes, it does,” Richie McGuire said. “Most of the year. But when school’s (VCU) is in session, it’s tight.”
So many people are now living, playing, partying, visiting and doing business in the city.
It’s a good problem to have. Samuels said there are possible solutions, but they have to be carefully considered or you can discourage people from coming to the city, or penalize one neighborhood or business over another.