The system is broken - and we can fix it...

The city of Wilmington is in the process of becoming a truly awesome city - a place where entrepreneurs, artists, educators, and businesses create incredible things.

Since October of 2011, the citizens, business community, arts community, Wilmington City Officials, and others have been engaged in improving the parking and parking enforcement issues in the city of Wilmington.

Huge progress has been made and the direction we are going as a community is extremely positive!

This blog chronicles the efforts of all who helped make this happen...

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Starting point for discussion

Some Wilmington officials would like to meet to discuss parking ticket issues - I've sent them this document as a starting point for the discussion:


The city of Wilmington, Delaware has developed a reputation as being one of the worst cities in the region for parking ticket issues.

These issues have led to extreme dissatisfaction among residents, business owners, and visitors to the city, some businesses have cited parking ticket issues as one of the primary reasons for them leaving the city and several people avoid coming to the city for fear of getting an illegitimate ticket.

The city of Wilmington has an opportunity to address these issues and turn this around to become a model city for attracting new visitors, residents, and businesses.

Below is a list of some of the top issues identified by Wilmington residents, business owners, and visitors – along with some suggested remedies for those issues:

Item #1: Communication

From signs on the street (placement and wording) to word of mouth to conflicting experiences, there seems to be no clear understanding about the rules of parking in Wilmington. For example, the city code Section 37-263 states that money does not need to be deposited in meters on Saturdays or Sundays, yet the signs only offer the Sunday exception.


- new, clearly worded signs
- brochures that local businesses could offer explaining the parking rules, similar to this -
- a web page that clearly states the rules – with the web address and/or qr code clearly placed on the signs – here’s a few examples from other cities:

Item #2: Parking fines

City                        Fine for expired meter parking

Boston, MA                   $25
Cambridge, MA             $25
Washington, DC            $25
Philadelphia, PA            $26
Baltimore, MD               $32
New York, NY              $35 (except below 96th street)

Wilmington, DE           $40


Bring Wilmington parking fines to a level that’s comparable with the region – suggested fine, $25.

Item #3: Attitude, courtesy, and professionalism of Parking Authority Staff

With several examples offered of illegitimate tickets issued (tickets to residents who have residential stickers, tickets for overdue meters while time is still on the meter, etc.) as well as complaints about treatment by Division of Revenue staff when trying to resolve ticket issues, it may be time to focus on the following:

1. keeping accurate records of tickets that are appealed and overturned on appeal
2. offering city residents, business owners, and visitors an opportunity to publicly recognize city workers for acting in a professional, courteous manner
3. offering training for professional development to city workers

Item #4: Parking kiosks

As more people are moving to a cashless society – and more cities are using parking kiosks to offer better service, the city of Wilmington should explore using these devices (this can also help for future planning by keeping an accurate record of peak times for using certain spaces).

Item #5: Loading zones

While some cities, like Wilmington, require business owners to use only commercial vehicles while using loading zones, it may be more business friendly and encourage more entrepreneurs if Wilmington were to adopt a policy like Milwaukee’s, which simply states:

“Loading zones are to be used for the purpose of, and while actually engaged in, loading or unloading property or passengers. Loading zones are not considered parking places and will be enforced accordingly.”

Item #6: Extended Time in certain areas

While a 2-hour time limit may be appropriate and necessary for parking along Market street and some of the more congested areas of the city, there are businesses in other parts of the city where business meetings can run over two hours and where the demand for parking is not high. Some of these areas also do not have garages or lots that offer hourly or daily rates, and may only be open to monthly parking.

The city should consider a 3-hour time limit in some neighborhoods.

Item #7: Parking Validation Program

City Code Section 37-281 and 37-282 authorizes a Downtown Parking Validation Program – this program should be put in place for two reasons:

1. to be in compliance with city code
2. to provide downtown business owners an opportunity to provide the service they would like to their customers

Sec. 37-281. - Authorization and fund.
There is hereby established in the city treasurer's office a new enterprise fund, which shall commence as of August 1, 1993, and beginning in fiscal year 1995 shall be included in the annual operating budget ordinance, and which shall be a special fund to be known as the "Downtown Parking Validation Program Fund" to be funded by parking meter revenues. The purpose of the fund is to cover the costs incurred in administration of the program herein authorized.
(Ord. No. 93-047, § 1, 7-8-93)
Sec. 37-282. - Parking validation program.
Participation. The parking validation program shall consist of a service to be coordinated by the department of commerce and the economic development corporation ("WEDCO") to enable participating merchants, businesses and firms to validate the parking of their respective customers or clients, provided that a minimum threshold amount worth of purchases or fees incurred shall be required. The participating merchant, business or firm shall provide to the eligible customer or client a stamp equivalent to one hour of free parking at any participating off-street parking facility, the full cost of a DART one-way bus fare, or an amount off the price of a taxicab fare.
Costs. The cost of the parking validation program shall be borne by the participating merchant, business or firm, the participating parking facility and the city.
Administration. WEDCO is hereby authorized to promulgate rules and regulations approved by the department of commerce in connection with the administration of the downtown parking validation program, subject to the approval of the administrative board. Such rules and regulations may include but not be limited to the determination of initial funding, establishment of printing and promotional material, program support material, designation of a full-time agency person to administer and manage the program, and establishment of legal agreements subject to approval of council for participants, banks, parking facilities, bus and cab companies as may be deemed necessary.

This list is by no means all-inclusive, there are several other issues that can and should be addressed and resolved with the help and support of the Wilmington community.

It is our sincere hope that the city of Wilmington will review these recommendations and work with the residents, business owners, and visitors to the city to make Wilmington, Delaware a model city for all.

Respectfully submitted,

Ken Grant

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