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...

Monday, January 30, 2012

Signs getting fixed downtown!

Gordon at Film Brothers reports the city of Wilmington is adding stickers to parking signs downtown clarifying that meters do not need to be fed on Saturdays AND Sundays (many just had the Sunday exception before).

This is a good move forward - and we applaud the city for taking this action!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

revised FOIA requests filed...

Mr. Meltzer,

   In light of some productive and positive conversations with Bill Montgomery and John Rago, I hereby cancel the FOIA requests made on January 4, 2012 and file new requests (attached and faxed to your office at 302-571-4565) which limit the scope to calendar years 2010 and 2011 for all material.

1. List of standard equipment issued by the city of Wilmington to Preos, Wilmington Police, and anyone else authorized to issue parking tickets in calendar years 2010 and 2011 (e.g. uniforms, electronic equipment, etc.)

2, A review of training manuals, videos, and any other training material used to train Preos, Wilmington Police, and any other agency responsible for issuing parking tickets for calendar years 2010 and 2011

3. Number of letters issued by the city of Wilmington (Revenue, Finance, etc.) informing parking ticket recipients of fines and penalties for failure to pay a parking ticket for calendar years 2010 and 2011, broken down by month

4. Number of letters issued by the city of Wilmington (Div. of Revenue, Finance, etc.) warning parking ticket recipients of potential penalties for failure to pay for calendar years 2010 and 2011, broken down by month

5. All correspondence with the Wilmington Division of Revenue concerning parking tickets for calendar years 2010 and 2011

6. All correspondence with the Wilmington Office of Civil Appeals pertaining to parking ticket appeals in Wilmington for calendar years 2010 and 2011 - including e-mail and other electronic communication.

7. All information pertaining to parking tickets issued in the city of Wilmington by Wilmington Police for calendar years 2010 and 2011, including dates, times, and locations of issuance.

8. All information pertaining to parking tickets issued in the city of Wilmington by Preos for calendar years 2010 and 2011, including dates, times, and locations of issuance.

9. All information about revenue from parking meters in the city of Wilmington for calendar years 2010 and 2011, broken down by month and city zone

10. All correspondence (Memos, letters, e-mails, etc.) to, from, and between officials in the city of Wilmington pertaining to parking ticket issues during calendar years 2010 and 2011

11. Copies of the monthly reports provided to the city concerning vehicles towed during calendar years 2010 and 2011

Saturday, January 21, 2012

News Journal article about Mayor Baker paying previously dismissed ticket...

Story in Saturday, January 21 News Journal by Esteban Parra:

But under city parking regulations, a car without a residential sticker must be moved from the block when the allowed time ends. The car cannot return to any parking space on either side of the block for at least one hour. Cars returning may park around the corner from their original location or on the next block.


Click Here to read the complete story

Press Release from the city of Wilmington


Mayor Says the Public's Faith in Wilmington's Parking and Ticketing Process As Well As The Need for Complete Transparency in City Government Begins and Ends with Him

Posted on  01/20/2012 3:12 pm
Following his announcement this week about steps being taken to ease the public’s concerns about the purpose, fairness and effectiveness of the City’s parking and ticketing system, Wilmington Mayor James M. Baker today chose to present his own recent parking ticket issue as a way to educate citizens about parking laws and explain why what seems like an unfair ticket is not always the case.
The Mayor said he hopes the full disclosure of his story will help to further restore citizen confidence in the ticketing and appeal process. His said his story has served as a lesson to him, and he hopes it will educate citizens on the correct way to deal with a parking ticket.
Background
The Mayor drives a city-issued vehicle. The Mayor also has a valid residential parking sticker displayed on his City-issued vehicle. On the morning of December 19, the Mayor was driving a “loaner” city-issued vehicle because his regular vehicle was in the City’s maintenance shop. The loaner vehicle did not display a residential parking sticker. The loaner vehicle had been parked in front of his Cool Spring residence overnight. At approximately 8:45 a.m. on December 19, the Mayor left his home in the loaner vehicle to attend a meeting downtown. When he returned to his residence at approximately 10:15 a.m., he parked the vehicle in the same block where he was previously parked that morning. At 10:30 a.m., he was issued a parking ticket for violating a City law which prohibits citizens from parking for more than two hours on a City Street without a valid residential parking sticker. If a valid residential sticker is in place on the rear right bumper of a vehicle, then residents are allowed unlimited parking. Residents, such as the Mayor, who have a valid residential parking sticker and have the occasion to drive a vehicle other than their regular vehicle for whatever reason, have the option of requesting to be placed on the “Do Not Ticket” list by calling (302) 576-3980, or emailing a request to GuestPass@WilmingtonDE.gov. The Mayor did not make a request to be placed on the “Do Not Ticket” list. If he had, his vehicle would have been added to the list and he wouldn’t have received this ticket.
What Happened Next?
The Mayor, unaware of the language of the portion of City Code he had violated, protested the ticket the following day, December 20, reasoning that he had proof (his scheduled downtown meeting) that he was not parked in front of his home for more than a period of two consecutive hours on the morning of December 19. The Mayor, or any citizen, may protest a ticket within 21 days of the issuance of the ticket by sending a letter to the Office of Civil Appeals, McLaughlin Public Safety Building, 300 North Walnut Street, 2nd Floor, Wilmington, DE 19801. The Mayor did not write a letter, but asked a staff person in the Mayor’s Office to make a verbal appeal on his behalf stating the reason why he thought the ticket was issued inappropriately. The ticket was dismissed that same day, but was dismissed in error. (More on these issues later!)
What Parking Law Did the Mayor Violate?
The Mayor violated Section 37-225 of the City Code which states:
“Parking within any block, whether at the same location or not, for an aggregate period of time in excess of the time permitted by the department of public works shall be deemed a violation of this chapter; and any person removing a vehicle from any given place on any street, to which this section applies, before the expiration of the period authorized for such location and returning it to any location on either side of the same street within the same block before the end of the first hour beyond the posted limited parking time shall be considered as violating the provisions of this chapter. A conviction of a violation of this subsection shall be punishable by a fine in the amount of $40.00.”
In other words, if a citizen without a valid residential sticker parks along a block where street signage indicates time-limited parking (for example, two-hour parking) and then moves their vehicle from that block, the vehicle may return and be parked in that block on either side of the street for the remainder of the original authorized two hour period. The original authorized time period begins to run when the vehicle’s license plate number is first recorded by a parking enforcement officer. After the authorized period has expired, the vehicle must vacate the block and not return to any parking space on either side of the block for at least one hour, regardless of whether the vehicle moved from the block during the original authorized period. Vehicles returning to the same general area may still park around the corner from their original location or as near as the next up or down block to avoid receiving a ticket.
For example, a car which is parked in a 2 hour zone at 9 o’clock, and which is recorded by a parking enforcement officer at 10 o’clock, may remain parked on either side of the same block, or come and go as often as the vehicle owner chooses, until 12 o’clock. (The unrecorded time period from 9 o’clock to 10 o’clock is not considered against the vehicle). At 12:01, the vehicle must vacate the block and may not return to either side of the block for one hour.”
Because the Mayor returned to his original parking block prior to expiration of the three-hour period, he received his ticket on December 19.
Why Does This Particular Law Exist?
This law was enacted to ensure that vehicles without a valid residential parking sticker (such as those belonging to citizens who work in nearby businesses) do not park for an unlimited amount of time in neighborhoods, thus denying residents who live in those neighborhoods the opportunity to park near where they live. The law is designed to inconvenience drivers, other than residents who live in that particular area, who may try to use parking spaces for which they are not entitled.
What Are the Lessons Learned from the Mayor’s Encounter With This Parking Ticket?
According to Mayor Baker, he has learned a number of things from this ticketing issue which he is sharing with other citizens for the purpose of educating them about parking and to assure them that the City will continue to take all steps necessary to operate an efficient and fair parking program:
  • Obtain a Residential Parking Sticker or make sure that the sticker on your vehicle is valid and current. For more information about how to obtain a parking sticker, visit the City’s website atwww.WilmingtonDE.gov/residents/residentparking or call (302) 571-4320.
  • If you have the occasion to drive a vehicle other than your own, request that your vehicle license number be placed on the City’s “Do Not Ticket” list by sending an email to GuestPass@WilmingtonDE.gov or by calling (302) 576-3980. This service is available for only a limited period of time and may not be used as a substitute for failing to register a vehicle in your name and obtaining a valid residential parking sticker.
  • Send a letter of protest within 21 days of the issuance of a ticket if you feel that a ticket was issued inappropriately by mailing the letter of protest to Office of Civil Appeals, McLaughlin Public Safety Building, 2nd Floor, 300 North Walnut Street, Wilmington DE, 19801, or emailing a letter to the Office of Civil Appeals at CivilAppeals@WilmingtonDE.gov. Verbal requests are not accepted. The Mayor said today it was improper for him to ask a staff person to relay a verbal protest instead of following the rules as other citizens are required to do.
  • If the Mayor’s appeal was submitted incorrectly for a violation of a law that was indeed a true violation, then why was his ticket dismissed? The Mayor today advised all staff, in his immediate office and all City offices, whether involved with the parking/ticketing processor not, to carry out their duties as required by law and not be intimidated by anyone, particularly an elected official or their appointees, into taking any actions they feel are unwarranted or inappropriate. Staff that was involved in transmitting the Mayor’s protest and ticket dismissal has been specifically advised of their errors as well as the Mayor’s error in not submitting a proper protest. The Mayor said today that the ticket was probably dismissed because the protest came from him, but he said this was not proper and will not happen again.
  • After being advised recently by the City Law Department that his ticket should be reinstated, and he should pay his fine because the ticket was issued properly, the Mayor read the specific section of the City Code that he had violated. The Mayor said the language was not clear to him nor was the intent of the law, so he explored whether the law needed to be amended in any way as part of the City’s announced steps to ease public concerns about parking and ticketing issues. The Mayor said he has now concluded that no change in the law is needed because it is accomplishing its intended purpose. However, the Mayor has directed staff currently compiling the list of City parking laws that will be posted on the City website and mailed to citizens to write the list in a way that can be easily understood by the average person, especially when laws themselves are written according to legally required or accepted language. The Mayor said while laws are written in a more formal language, the explanation of laws to citizens should be understandable to all.
  • The Mayor said the City is always willing to review, within 21 days of the issuance of a ticket, any information from a citizen which may prove that a ticket has been issued incorrectly. These can include documents, pictures, etc. which should be sent along with a letter protesting a ticket toCivilAppeals@WilmingtonDE.gov or mailed to the Office of Civil Appeals, McLaughlin Public Safety Building, 2nd Floor, 300 North Walnut Street, Wilmington DE, 19801.
  • Finally, the Mayor encourages citizens who may be confused about parking laws or the enforcement of those laws to contact the Office of Constituent Services at (302) 576-2489. The Mayor said if this office cannot immediately assist citizens with information, staff will contact other offices on behalf of citizens such as Police, Finance, Law or Civil Appeals in order to provide information to citizens.
In summary, Mayor Baker said today that had he taken the time to read the law he violated or to ask questions about why such a law was enacted, he might not have appealed his ticket, but he respects everyone’s right to exercise their right to appeal.
“As I said this week when we issued the actions to be taken by the City to ease public concerns about parking and ticketing, I don’t like to receive tickets, but the circumstances regarding this particular ticket has caused me to step back and rethink my approach to ticketing as well as the need to educate the public as much as possible,” said the Mayor.
In light of the Mayor’s disclosure of information today regarding his December 19 ticket, and in order to be completely transparent regarding any tickets he has received or appealed since he took office in 2001, Mayor Baker today released a summary of tickets he has received along with their dispositions.
The list is as follows:
  • 31 tickets were issued to city-issued vehicles operated by the Mayor.
  • 25 tickets were paid by the Mayor.
  • Four tickets were dismissed. Two were for expired meters after Mayoral news conferences that were conducted away from City Hall ran overtime. The remaining two, also for expired meters, were dismissed because the meters were broken and would not accept coins. The Mayor reported the meters as malfunctioning, and they were repaired. (Since 2001 the City has extended to event participants including elected officials, community members, media representatives covering an event, etc., a special exemption regarding ticketing for limited time parking at meters when an event to which individuals have been invited by the City exceeds its expected or allotted time limit. The City also has extended this same courtesy to families involved with activities related to funerals as an example.)
  • Mayor Baker paid his remaining two outstanding tickets today. One was a $40 ticket plus a $40 penalty for a violation of limited time parking in front of his home on December 2 which he received because his residential parking sticker had expired, and the other $40 ticket plus a $20 penalty he paid today is the December 19 limited time parking violation which is the subject of this news release.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

News Journal editorial on Wilmington Parking

The News Journal published a great editorial on the proposed parking enforcement changes today, here's an excerpt:

The new plan respects drivers, as well as the city's need to ensure that transportation routes flow safely and are not blocked when emergency vehicles or city sanitation vehicles navigate dense neighborhoods. 


Click Here for the complete editorial.

Media Coverage on new city Proposals...

Here's a rundown of local media coverage since Wednesday's announcement about new parking enforcement proposals from the city of Wilmington:

Wilm. takes steps to ease parking concerns
By Amy Cherry/Frank Gerace

Baker Chief of Staff Bill Montgomery tells WDEL News people who protested parking enforcement met with officials and talked things out.

 

The City is also wrapping up work to replace and update signs. Now meters will reflect free parking in Wilmington on Saturday, Sunday, and holidays.

Click Here for the complete story from WDEL

Wilmington addresses parking flap

Range of actions approved by activists

Written by
ESTEBAN PARRA
The News Journal

Organizers of an online campaign protesting Wilmington parking regulations gave their approval to city officials who on Wednesday said they have started a series of actions to ease the public's concerns about the city's parking enforcement being perceived as a revenue-raising mechanism.
The actions announced by Wilmington Mayor James M. Baker include training for parking officers, the posting of parking regulations on the city website, mailing notices to owners of ticketed vehicles within seven days explaining why they were cited as well as how to pay or appeal the violation and revisions to instructions on parking meters to indicate when people are not required to deposit coins in the meters -- on Saturdays, Sundays and designated holidays.
Click Here for the complete story from the News Journal.

Wilmington Mayor Reacts After Fox29 Report


Baker said PREOs will undergo additional training on how to properly enforce tickets, and when to disengage from a conversation when the issuance of a ticket is leading to of confrontation.
PREOs will soon begin to distribute informational brochures concerning parking,
Other measures by the city will include a concise list of parking regulations on its Web site ( www.WilmingtonDE.gov ), changes to days when people can park without fees, extensions of parking times and new options for the appeals process. 



Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Good Changes Proposed...


Mayor James Baker's office just released the information below about proposed improvements to Wilmington's parking enforcement system.

I believe all of these proposals are positive steps forward and will help in our efforts to create a truly stellar system for residents, businesses, and visitors in Wilmington.

I look forward to the implementation of these items and continuing our joint efforts to improve our system.

From the office of the Mayor...


Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Mayor Baker Announces Steps to Ease Concerns About Parking Enforcement and to Educate the Public About the Need for Parking Enforcement Laws

Better Communication, Additional Training for Parking Regulation Enforcement
Officers (PREOs) and New Procedures Are Among Items Being Announced


Wilmington Mayor James M. Baker today announced a series of actions to ease public concerns
about parking enforcement in Wilmington, which he acknowledged is perceived by some
citizens to be more of a revenue-raising mechanism than a necessary function to ensure traffic
flow, uphold public safety and provide parking for residents and businesses alike.

“I don’t like getting a parking ticket any more than the next person does, but if I do receive a
ticket I want to be sure I understand the parking rules, and I want the assurance that the ticket
was issued to me appropriately,” said the Mayor. “These are common sense courtesies that
should be extended to all citizens at all times. While some citizens have lost faith in the City’s
ability to carry out those basic precepts of fairness under the law, we are taking steps today to
correct both problems and perceptions.

“I want people to enjoy living in Wilmington and to come to our City to visit, eat, shop and have
fun,” the Mayor continued. “I want businesses to thrive. I want people to be able to park near
their homes and near where they choose to shop or be entertained. But I also want citizens to
understand that there are important reasons why cities have parking laws, and those reasons
are not related to any sort of quotas for raising revenue.”

Mayor Baker said parking enforcement is necessary to keep vehicles moving in and out of
parking spaces to support retail business and allow for the flow of commerce, as well as to
ensure that people living in neighborhoods can park near where they live. He said parking
restrictions are also imposed to ensure that transportation routes flow safely and are not
blocked when emergency vehicles or City sanitation vehicles need to navigate dense City
neighborhoods.

The Mayor said the City’s Parking Regulation Enforcement Officers (PREOs) have a tough job,

and the vast majority of PREOs perform their duties as assigned each day while at times dealing
with rude and improper behavior on the part of citizens who object to receiving a valid ticket
for violating the law. Mayor Baker said PREOs are required to complete at least five walking or
driving “rounds” each day for their assigned area or district. Their job is to issue a violation for
infractions of the City’s parking laws. They do not have a quota nor is their work performance
judged based on a quota. He said their job performance is based on their ability to complete
their “rounds” and enforce the laws.

“Everyone should be clear on why parking enforcement is necessary in Wilmington and cities
across the country. I feel the majority of citizens do understand and do everything they can to
abide by the law,” said the Mayor. “Even so, it is important for us to take some additional steps
to educate and inform citizens about parking restrictions and win back their trust in the City’s
ability to operate a fair parking and ticketing system that is ultimately governed by the law.”

To that end, Mayor Baker today announced the following:


  • The City’s PREOs will soon undergo additional training that will focus on deploying these individuals as ambassadors for the City while at the same time stressing their legal responsibility to enforce parking laws. The training will also focus on one-on-one contact with citizens as well as when to disengage from a conversation with a citizen if the issuance of a ticket is leading to any sort of confrontation.
  • The City’s PREOs will soon begin to distribute informational brochures concerning parking in Wilmington to educate citizens about parking laws and about how those laws are enforced. The brochures will carry a QR Code that will allow users of smart phone technology to scan the code on-site and be taken to the City’s website for further information about parking laws and the ticketing process.
  • Beginning March 1 or sooner if possible, the City will, within seven days of a ticket being issued, mail a notice to the owner of a vehicle informing them that a ticket was issued. The notice will contain details of the violation, why it was issued, as well as information about how to pay the ticket or appeal the violation. Under the current process, the City mails a notice of violation 30 days after a violation has been issued, and by then, the notice also contains a $20 penalty because it is being mailed after the 21-day period for citizens to appeal their ticket. This process has produced claims by citizens that they did not see or received a ticket placed on their windshield or that it was removed from their vehicle or damaged. This new “up front” notification by mail will alleviate the problem of missing tickets and afford the citizen an opportunity to pay or appeal the fine before a penalty has been added.
  • By February 1, the City will post a concise list of parking regulations on its website (www.WilmingtonDE.gov) which will include information about obtaining residential and business-related parking permits, temporary parking permits for family and friends who visit, street signage information, meter information, metered parking spaces for persons with disabilities and the process for paying fines or appealing tickets along with a host of other laws. The list will include names, telephone numbers and email addresses for City employees who manage the City’s parking enforcement process so citizens know who to contact with questions. This list will also be available by mail to any citizen who does not have access to the Internet if they request the information by calling the Office of Constituent Services at 576.2489.
  • The City and Downtown Visions (DV) are nearing completion of a block-by-block review of all parking enforcement street signage in the downtown area. The City and DV are looking for signs that are incorrect, misleading, outdated or missing. All needed changes will be made without delay by the City’s Transportation Office, which routinely reviews and updates signage around the City and works with residential and business communities and their Council Members if special parking restrictions are requested or needed.
  • The City Administration will seek approval from City Council for an Ordinance sponsored by Council Member Hanifa Shabazz that will revise City Code so that time-limited parking restrictions on city blocks with marked signage but without parking meters are not enforced on both Saturdays and Sundays. As the code currently reads, and as street signage reflects, time-limited parking restrictions on non-metered blocks are currently not in effect on Sundays and holidays only. This proposed City Code revision will bring the code in line with the City’s current enforcement practices (no enforcement of time-limited parking on Saturdays/Sundays and holidays) and serve as an additional reminder to citizens that time-limited parking restrictions are not enforced on weekends and on holidays.
  • The City will immediately revise the labels on all parking meters to indicate that citizens are not required to deposit coins into the meters on Saturdays, Sundays and designated holidays. Currently, the signage on meters indicates that citizens are not required to deposit coins on Sundays only.
  • The City will continue to deploy “smart” technology to upgrade its metered parking system. The City installed multi-space parking kiosks along Justison Street on the Riverfront last year as a pilot program to provide new payment options and receipts for citizens. The pilot is working well, and citizen reaction has been very positive. The City will soon begin a 100-meter pilot program in the downtown district using new single-head upgraded meters that accept coins, credit cards or purchase of time via cell phones. The City will expand this program as funding becomes available, but for the moment will move forward with an initial pilot program.
  • The City will begin the process of applying yellow paint on curbs in Loading Zones and Bus Zones as a further indication to citizens of restricted parking in these areas. The City will also apply yellow paint to curbs where fire hydrants are located in the downtown district as a further parking guide for citizens who are prohibited from blocking a hydrant or parking within 15 feet of a hydrant.
  • A new and convenient option for citizens who wish to appeal their tickets will be established through the placement of lock boxes in the lobby of the Redding City/County Building on French Street and at the Wilmington Police Department on 4th Street so citizens may deposit their appeal letters at their leisure. Citizens currently have the option of sending in their appeal letters via U.S. mail or by email using the address civilappeals@WilmingtonDE.gov.


In addition to the announcements of new actions to be taken by the City, the Mayor
today stressed other actions previously taken by the City to improve the parking system in
Wilmington. These include:


  • Changing all metered limited-time parking in Wilmington from one-hour to two hours in 2011. A survey of downtown businesses conducted last year by the Wilmington Renaissance Corporation indicated that the vast majority of businesses favored extended parking for their customers. Today, all meters in Wilmington allow for the purchase of up to two hours of parking ($.25 for each 15 minutes of parking).
  • Changes that extended the length of time for commercial and retail businesses to use loading zones. The City revised its loading zone law in early 2011 to allow for the use of such zones for the active loading or unloading of materials for up to one hour instead of the previously allowed 15 minutes. In addition, non-commercial vehicles used by businesses upon which magnetic panels are placed on each of a vehicle’s front doors indicating the name of the business may use loading zones in the City for up to one hour.
  • Allowing for discretion on the part of the City’s PREOs regarding the enforcement of the 20-foot crosswalk law taking into account the density of City neighborhoods and the difficulty of parking in some neighborhoods. PREOs were instructed beginning November 1, 2011 to use greater discretion so as to enable emergency vehicles to maneuver along City streets and intersections without imposing additional parking limitations in tightly-packed neighborhoods.
  • Establishing a Guest Pass Program to allow citizens the opportunity to request by telephone or email that the City not ticket the vehicle of a family member or friend who is visiting a particular residence. The request should be received by the City 24-hours prior to the scheduled visit; however, the City will accept an appeal from a citizen if they are unable to provide 24-hour notice. The email address for this service is GuestPass@WilmingtonDE.gov and the telephone number is 302.576.3980. The City is also exploring a new Guest Pass Program whereby citizens would be able to purchase a limited number of guest passes so they could be displayed on a vehicle to prevent ticketing. There is no timetable for this project to be completed although it is being considered.


Mayor Baker said the City is committed to continuing to work with concerned citizens such as
those who reached out to the Administration recently with positive suggestions and concerns.
The Mayor today thanked Members of Council for their support to make the parking system
more user-friendly and was especially appreciative of the efforts of Council Member Hanifa
Shabazz who chaired a City Parking Summit a few years ago which resulted in positive changes
to the City’s parking system.

The Mayor said the City will move forward with the changes announced today and continue
to monitor the City’s parking and ticketing systems to search for additional improvements or
enhancements.

“It is worth repeating our collective goals of having parking available to citizens in residential
and business areas of the City, making sure that our parking and ticketing programs are as user
friendly as possible, and to uphold parking laws that have been established for a variety of
purposes including public safety, the proper flow of traffic and to enable citizens to park near
where they live, or where they choose to shop or enjoy entertainment and other venues in
Wilmington,” the Mayor concluded.
###




Tuesday, January 17, 2012

A few things I learned at my first meeting with city officials

On Friday, January 13, I had the privilege of sitting down and discussing parking ticket issues with Mayor Baker's Chief of Staff, Bill Montgomery, Communications Director John Rago, City Council Member Hanifa Shabazz, Downtown Visions' Director of Business Development Will Minster, and many other city officials and community activists (the table was packed).

I wanted to take a moment to share some things that I learned during that meeting that may be helpful for all of us.

  • First, there's a reason for all of the laws - and some are not in the city's control. One of the best examples of this is the "no parking within 20 feet of the corner" rule. It turns out this is a state law and it's there to make sure emergency vehicles (fire trucks) can make those corners quickly. If we want to explore making changes to that, we should talk with our state representatives and state senators about some modifications to the state code. (PLEASE NOTE: this is a hint for those who want to do something constructive to help make parking in Wilmington more efficient).
  • Second, the Parking Regulation Enforcement Officers (PREOs) are trained in both conflict resolution and conflict avoidance. What this means is that when a PREO walks away from someone (there's been at least one reader who has shared about such an experience), the PREO is not trying to be rude, but is doing what their training suggests they do.
  • Third, the city has been holding several meetings to address our parking ticket concerns - I had kind of assumed there had been some meetings before our sit-down on Friday, based on the discussions we had, it looks like the city has really explored some ideas to start addressing the issues we've been talking about here for the past few months.

In the coming days, weeks, and months we should be providing more information, details, and plans to improve this system and make a real difference in our community.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Let's take a moment to clarify...

We need to make a few things abundantly clear - please take note:

  1. We believe that proper parking enforcement is legitimate and necessary for public safety and a good flow of traffic through the city - we are NOT advocating that the city abandon parking regulations or tickets
  2. The reason we are pouring ourselves into this effort is simple, we believe in the businesses, artists, entrepreneurs, entertainers, and individuals who make up the city of Wilmington - we DO NOT encourage, support, nor condone any efforts that would punish those people in a misguided attempt to "send a message" to the city government - we ask that you come to Wilmington and see the incredible community that exists and is growing here
  3. The only way we are going to resolve these issues is by working together - we hope to facilitate cooperation between residents, business owners, educators, visitors, artists, and city officials.


Please, support the Wilmington community, truly great things are happening!

Thank you.

News Journal - changes may be coming...

From Saturday, January 14:


John Rago, Mayor James M. Baker's director of communications and policy development, said the two sides agreed to work together to make parking more convenient by helping people understand why certain regulations are in place.
"We are also looking at some changes in parking regulations about which we'll have more to say next week," Rago said.
Click Here to read the complete story.

Story from Fox 29

This aired Friday, January 13, 2012:




Click Here for more.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Meeting went well...

Just came out of the meeting with Wilmington City officials - here's a video statement:

video
Bottom line - the city is open to our ideas, suggestions, and assistance.

Expect more news next week - and we already have a meeting scheduled for February - I'm optimistic about where we are going.

Opening Statement for meeting with Wilmington city officials

The meeting is about to begin - here's our opening statement from the community:





We're sorry.

We, as a community, have not been as engaged as we should have been in the city of Wilmington.

While Title 22, section 501 of the Delaware State Code clearly recognizes the need for parking regulations for the health, safety, and general welfare of the public -- we, the community, failed to speak up when year after year, Wilmington's city budget focused solely on revenue generation through parking fines.

We, the community, did not speak up when the city of Wilmington entered into a $580,000 contract with a New Jersey-based company to "Boot" more than 5,000 vehicles a year.

We, the community, did not say anything when the city of Wilmington published budgets for fiscal years 2009 and 2010 setting the annual revenue goals at $4 Million and adding a second "Boot" van.

We, the community, have allowed the city to require each Parking Regulation Enforcement Officer to issue at least 30 parking tickets a day.

We know that it is now our responsibility to improve this system.

We recognize the financial restraints on the city of Wilmington, and we believe that the current parking system is adding to that crisis by discouraging people from living, visiting, and doing business in the city.

A new parking system will promote economic growth and help the city thrive.

We, the community, pledge our time, our talent, and our expertise to create a better system in Wilmington.

Our goal is not just to make minor improvements, but to create a system that will set a new standard which other cities around the world will wish to replicate.

We will use LEAN principles that have helped manufacturers, physicians, attorneys, and government agencies become more efficient and effective.

We will analyze data, research best practices, and create a system that exceeds the goals outlined in the Delaware Code.

We want to partner with the city government to create this system together.

Over the next couple of months: 

• we want to spend time with the Parking Regulation Enforcement Officers to better understand the challenges they face,
• we want to review the data for each section of the city and analyze traffic patterns,
• we want to review the training process for Parking Regulation Enforcement Officers, 
• we want to review the appeals process and explore ways to make it more efficient and equitable,
• we want to review the "booting" process,
• we want to review the costs involved with this system,
• we want the city of Wilmington's cooperation and input.

Working together, we are confident that we can develop and implement this new parking system within a year.

We pledge to make this happen.

Thank you.

Mayor Baker agrees the signs are confusing

From today's News Journal:



Wilmington Mayor James M. Baker got another ticket last month. This time, even though he has a problem with the system, he's going to pay it.
Baker was cited on Dec. 20 for parking his vehicle in a downtown loading zone near the Govatos Chocolates store. "Its confusing signage," the three-term mayor said. But he said he was wrong and will pay the fine.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Another resident who may move because of illegitimate parking tickets

The latest e-mail from a frustrated Wilmingtonian:


I don't even know where to begin my nightmare tale......I'm still traumatized by the wrath of the city of wilmington, delaware.

The nightmare began when I first moved into the city beginning of October 2011.

For starters I have gotten 2 tickets right out front of my house for an 'over 2 hour parking limit' ticket. I had resident stickers both times on my car when they ticketed me. Trying to deal with the ingrates at the city building was a nightmareto say the least.

I have a ticket I am trying to fight where you can clearly see in the picture that I was going through a "yellow" not a red light. Still haven't heard anything back from the appeal letter I wrote.

They are such crooked-crooks. I've noticed that the lights go from green to yellow for less than a second and then immediately to red. This is a set up to glean more money from good citizens. No one has a chance with these lights. You're better off financially to stop at all green lights. Now how crazy is that?

I have had to pay so many bogus fines since Oct that I had to go without paying utility bills and other needed essentials basic to survival. The city has wrung me dry financially and drained me emotionally and psychologically.

For this reason, I am seriously considering moving out of the city even though I really like my place.