That’ll Be Another $5, Scofflaws

Thomas Breen photoThe city plans to increase the fine for the most common type of parking ticket by $5, with the hope of raising at least $300,000 in additional annual revenue for strapped municipal coffers.

That announcement came during the latest Finance Committee workshop on the mayor’s proposed $547.1 million operating budget for the fiscal year that starts July 1. The workshop was held last week in the Aldermanic Chambers on the second floor of City Hall.

Presenting at the tail end of a five-and-a-half hour workshop, Traffic, Transit & Parking (TTP) Director Doug Hausladen told alders that the biggest changes to his department’s proposed budget relate to new revenues, not to new expenditures or new cuts.

Hausladen said his department proposes to increase the fines for Group 1 parking tickets from $20 to $25. He said this increase should conservatively bring an additional $300,000 to $500,000 in revenue each year to city coffers.

“The Group 1 parking tickets are the lowest level tickets in our city,” Hausladen explained. “They are also the most common.”

Group 1 tickets are given out to people who don’t pay the parking meter, or who stay in their parking spot for longer than they’ve paid for. They also apply to drivers who park too far from the curb, and to those who stay in a parking spot for longer than 72 hours.

Hausladen also said the city plans to increase the fine for commercial vehicles (e.g. tractor trailers) parked in residential areas from $20 to $100. He admitted this violation doesn’t happen frequently. But when it does, it is a major inconvenience, eyesore, and potential hazard to neighbors.

Group 1 parking violations, on the other hand, happen all the time.

Last fiscal year, Hausladen’s department gave out 139,730 tickets in total. These tickets spanned the five broad groups of parking violations, ranging from obstructing a driveway to parking in a handicapped zone. The city collected just over $4.6 million in parking tag revenue last year.

Of those 139,730 tickets, around 100,000 were for Group 1 violations. The proposed budget’s recommended parking ticket increases project that parking tag revenue will increase from the $4.5 million budgeted for the current fiscal year to $4.8 million next year. Hausladen said that, considering that the city gives out around 100,000 Group 1 tickets each year, an increase of only $300,000 is a conservative estimate.

The proposed budget also identifies a $200,000 projected increase in street meter receipts, from $6.8 million this year to $7 million next year.

There are 2,992 metered parking spaces in the city, according to a TTP departmental summary provided by Hausladen at the workshop. That document also says that all city parking meters now accept payment through the Parkmobile smartphone app, and that nearly 2,000 accept on-site credit card payments.

Making Money Off Mistakes?

The alders on the Finance Committee have spent the past month and a half scouring the proposed budget for source of revenue that may ward off a proposed 11 percent tax increase. At least one alder was skeptical of Hausladen’s suggestion that the city raise more money from parking tickets.

“I don’t believe in making money off of people for their mistakes,” said Dixwell Alder and Acting Mayor Jeanette Morrison.

She wagered that most people who receive parking tickets delay on paying them for longer than two weeks, which is when the fines double from $20 to $40. She said that the proposed increase from $20 to $25 for Group 1 tickets would practically mean a proposed increase from $40 to $50 for most residents who procrastinate on their payments.

“I just don’t think it’s fair to put that on residents,” she said.

Hausladen retorted that most Group 1 recipients do indeed pay their fines on time within the $20 window. After the meeting, he followed up with the Independent to say that around 50 percent of Group 1 fine recipients pay within two weeks.

He also said that New Haven parking enforcement officers leave physical tickets on car windshields so that alleged parking offenders know exactly when, why and where they are being fined.

“We’re not Bridgeport,” he said. “We don’t mail you a ticket.”

After the meeting, Hausladen told the Independent that we currently live in a “Golden Age of Parking,” as it has never been so easy for drivers to pay for metered parking spots just as it has never been so easy for cities to issue and collect on parking violations.

“This should create the highest value for parking operations and highest satisfaction for customers,” he wrote to the Independent.

Cities should take advantage of this moment, Hausladen wrote, as a future draws near in which driverless cars that automatically pick up and drop off commuters completely eliminate the need for on-street parking, along with any municipal revenue that comes with it.

“If Autonomous Vehicles take hold,” he wrote, “we would then reach peak parking, where the value of parking will begin to drop rapidly ... ultimately causing major overhauls in the parking industry and hopefully a large boom in construction to retrofit and reuse properties previously available for parking operations. It’s imperative now to think through in design future retrofits, which make projects slightly harder and more expensive to construct but have a longer return on capital.”

The Board of Alders must approve a final version of the budget by the first week of June.

The next budget workshop, during which the Finance Committee will interview department heads about their respective allocations in the mayor’s proposed budget, is on Thursday, April 19, at 6 p.m. in the Aldermanic Chambers on the second floor of City Hall.

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posted by: LookOut on April 16, 2018  8:14am

$300K may sound like a lot but, in perspective, it is less than one tenth of one percent of the budget.  Equivalent to telling someone who makes $20.00 an hour that they will now make $20.01 an hour.  Nice, I suppose, but if we don’t address the wasteful spending, we’ll never make real progress.

posted by: jim1 on April 16, 2018  8:27am

People won’t stop parking overtime make the ticket $50.00 that might help.

posted by: 1644 on April 16, 2018  9:53am

Jim:  If New Haven makes the ticket $50, people will just stop coming to New Haven and patronizing its businesses.  I know that’s what Hausladen , Harp and the Alders seems to want, as if an 11% tax increase isn’t enough.  State Street has lots of great restaurants, but the residential parking limits there tell me my patronage isn’t wanted.  That’s fine, there are great restaurants in Milford, Branford, and the Shoreline with free, convenient parking.  I go there.

posted by: challenge on April 16, 2018  9:56am

I love New Haven. Peter can always rob Paul to pay its bills and it’s not a crime. Here’s 2 novel ideas. How about replicating suburban town where meters are not all over the place and cut wasteful spending beginning with the over paid administrative staff.

posted by: Attheend on April 16, 2018  10:49am

The parking in New Haven is slowly discouraging people from coming downtown.After a few tickets because,I missed a payment by 5mins both times,,, running out at intermissions, .at Sprague hall . It’s almost like meter people are hiding in the shadows to pounce as the meter expires.. I now bus .There is not much paid parking in that area , which I would gladly pay if provided,

posted by: TheMadcap on April 16, 2018  10:58am

”  If New Haven makes the ticket $50, people will just stop coming to New Haven and patronizing its businesses.”

I’m sure you said the same exact thing when parking meter hours were extended

posted by: goatvillegoat on April 16, 2018  11:16am

Attheend, you can just use the parkmobile app and renew from wherever you happen to be; the app will also alert you when your parking is about to expire.

posted by: wendy1 on April 16, 2018  11:31am

Parking in NH is already expensive and difficult…and a tax increase of any % is untenable (next hearing May 9 cityhall).  Ct pension scheme is terrible according to the NYTIMES yesterday.  Our city gov. has made too many mistakes already and must now revise the budget to suit what $$ actually exists.  I suggest they start listening to educated and long time critics like Boden and Joyner, also cut salaries for local political parasitic hacks (we know who you are), and leverage cash from Yale, our biggest burden.

posted by: EarlyBird on April 16, 2018  12:16pm

I think it was a great idea when hybrid cars were a new thing and fairly rare, but perhaps it’s time to revisit the free parking they receive. How much revenue is the city losing out on with this policy. To continue to encourage their use, maybe sell them a yearly permit at a reasonable fee?

posted by: 1644 on April 16, 2018  12:51pm

Madcap:  I probably did, and I no longer go to New Haven solely for a meal, but only incidental to some other errand, such as going to the Apple Store or court.  Christopher Martin’s used to be one of my favorite places, but I haven’t been there in decades due to parking. It’s still there, so I guess my custom not only wasn’t wanted, but wasn’t needed either.  For the times I do get a ticket, I can live with $25, and I shall pay it within 14 days as always.  There a new Brazilian restaurant in town, but I won’t go there since I can park for free at the West haven place.  New Haven used to want to be a commercial hub for the area, and made things convenient for out-of-towners to come to New Haven.  Today,  New Haven is re-posturing itself to be physically and politically unwelcoming to suburbanites, isolating itself from the surrounding communities.  That’s fine with me, but New Haveners should recognize that there are political and financial consequences when suburbanites are less connected to New Haven.

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on April 16, 2018  12:51pm

Hausladen said his department proposes to increase the fines for Group 1 parking tickets from $20 to $25. He said this increase should conservatively bring an additional $300,000 to $500,000 in revenue each year to city coffers.

“The Group 1 parking tickets are the lowest level tickets in our city,” Hausladen explained. “They are also the most common.”

Again Take Back New Haven Doug Hausladen.at it Again.Beat the car owners down.

He said this increase should conservatively bring an additional $300,000 to $500,000 in revenue each year to city coffers.

Notice the word coffers.

I see this coming soon.

35 Held in $1 Million Parking-Meter ‘Rip-Off’

Thirty-five employees - virtually the entire field force of the company that collects money from New York City’s parking meters - were arrested yesterday and charged with stealing almost $1 million in quarters in three months.The Brooklyn District Attorney, Elizabeth Holtzman, said some of the collectors and drivers had so many quarters that from time to time they took them to casinos in Atlantic City, placed the coins in buckets used by slot-machine players and then exchanged the quarters for bills.

https://www.nytimes.com/1987/10/16/nyregion/35-held-in-1-million-parking-meter-rip-off.html

In Bloomberg’s CityTime scandal, echoes of the ‘86 PVB fiasco that nearly toppled Ed Koch

Five days before Koch was sworn in, the feds struck a deal with Bernard Sandow, a businessman who admitted bribing PVB honchos Lester Shafran and Geoffrey Lindenauer, a close friend of powerful Queens Borough President Donald Manes.

Basically, Lindenauer steered a $22.7 million PVB contract to buy hand-held traffic ticket computers to a firm owned by another top Koch ally - Bronx Democratic boss Stanley Friedman

http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/bloomberg-citytime-scandal-echoes-86-pvb-fiasco-toppled-ed-koch-article-1.471044

posted by: robn on April 16, 2018  12:59pm

Stop spending money.

The alders are high on crack if they think the public is going to accept any tax hike, never mind 11%.

posted by: cunningham on April 16, 2018  1:13pm

It’s fairly common wisdom that land is the most valuable commodity there is. It’s odd that so many people take it completely for granted that 1) so much of it should be dedicated to parking, and 2) they are absolutely entitled to use of that land for as little a possible, if not completely freely.

posted by: anonymous on April 16, 2018  1:15pm

Higher parking tickets would encourage more turnover, and therefore more patrons for downtown businesses. 

For the complainers who like to complain about an officer sitting on the meter, there should be an automatic 5 or 10 minute grace period for expired meters if there isn’t one already.  Beyond that, you should have planned better.

Right now, the $20 fine in New Haven is way too low, and is pretty similar to the cost to park in a garage.  In Houston and NYC, the fees for an expired meter are more like $30-70 per ticket.

Also what would the city earn if the hybrid/electric cars could no longer park for free?

posted by: Esbey on April 16, 2018  1:19pm

As the city has made it easier to pay for parking, it also makes sense to increase the fine on scofflaws. A private lot would tow you away and charge you $150.

Now I am eagerly anticipating the proposed “quarter a quarter” move to variable rate parking, which will decrease rates on blocks with less demand while ensuring open spots on high demand blocks. That way, you get a convenient spot when you really need it while saving $ when you have time to walk a few blocks.

We now understand that “free parking” has a high cost. City streets are a valuable commonly owned resource & we should manage them carefully for the common good. Hausladen understands modern best practice for achieving this.

posted by: Nathan on April 16, 2018  2:35pm

While there are many reasonable improvements that can be made to improve walkability downtown and public transportation options, the war on cars represents the triumph of concept over realistic assessments of the practical use of motor vehicles in a small city.  These policies reflect the will of a small minority, not the majority.  If such policies were good for local merchants, they would surely offer their praises in response; quite the opposite is true.  These issues will continue until this administration, which has refused to responsibly and competently adjust spending to not exceed revenue, is voted out of office.  Good luck with that in a city without any real multiple party elections for decades.

posted by: robn on April 16, 2018  3:15pm

It would be nice if people were only billed for the time that they are actually parked at a parking spot. Like a check-in check-out type of billing. Its usurious to bill people for time not spent using an asset.

posted by: Martha Smith on April 16, 2018  4:37pm

Parking tickets in Hartford are $25.  In New Britain, they charge $30 and if you don’t pay it within 7 days they triple the fine to $90!

posted by: Noteworthy on April 16, 2018  4:50pm

Idiotic, Unfair and Outrageous Notes:

1. Hausladen said only 50% pay within 2 weeks. That’s not most people. I’ll wager it’s not 50% either if a real report was run.

2. The city has increased the number of meters, increased the rates, increased the meter maids, and fines.

3. Enough. That BS about driverless cars is so far off Hausladen is fearmongering. Let’s just start with the price of that car in a city of poverty. It’s absurd.

4. Stop the madness. This tax increase is about the $40 million in new spending since 2015,  the mayor’s personal social promoter, her chauffeur, runaway spending in the poluce dept, the schools and debt out of control. Any other discussion is a lie.

posted by: 1644 on April 17, 2018  3:20am

Essay:  No, private lot owners do not tow.  If I tell the attendant I will be back in 2 hours, but actually take 3 (or more likely, an 2 and a quarter) I just get charged an extra hour.  There is no fine or penalty at all.

posted by: JCFremont on April 17, 2018  7:49am

I’m convinced the reason The Long Wharf Theater fought, as did it’s regular patrons the prospective move into downtown was because there is free and abundant parking at it’s Long Wharf location.

posted by: Noteworthy on April 18, 2018  3:25pm

What percent parking fines play in overall budget is immaterial and irrelevant. Private don’t ticlet or tow. If they did, it’s not $150 in any case. Who cares what New Britain charges? I don’t live there. Drivers do not take parking for granted nor do we expect it to be free. That’s a stupid comment.  Nobody is arguing for free. Any regerence to fines in NYC and Houston is likewise idiotic. Those cities are 30 times our size and have the the problems to prove it. But I csn park and sit in a no parking zone in NYC without getting hassled by Hausladen’s maids on a power trip. I live in New Haven and I avoid downtown for all these reasons.  I know plenty more who do also and btw, increasing fines does not creste more turnover and mote business for shop owners. Thats another City Hall lie.