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
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
“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.