My take: Wilmington’s never-ending parking wars
The decades-long issue of parking enforcement in Wilmington is not going away anytime soon.
Last month, the city announced that City Towing Services received the contract. The selection raised eyebrows since the company has been the subject of controversy during its previous work with the city.
The agreement came with several provisions that include changes in the process allowing City Towing to sue for possession of the vehicle if no one claims it.
Long-time parking activist Ken Grant is not impressed and continues to claim that the city is not living up to its promises to reform a system that has been a nightmare for some motorists.
To be clear, unpaid parking tickets are an issue in any city, and many drivers who get booted and towed cry foul, knowing they had those tickets sitting on the dresser. The problem comes in cases where vehicles are towed every once in a while by mistake.
Grant has taken his campaign to another level with a website and recent videos. Click here for more info. Our story archive, including the effort to deal with the confusing system of appealing parking tickets, is available here.
Grant, one of the Delaware pioneers in the use of social media, appears to have gotten under the skin of the city government.
A recent TownSquare Live story contained the following quote from Deputy Chief of Staff John Rago:
“What happens here in these situations is the Ken Grants of the world; they just use one or two instances and then make it sound like there are 30 or 40 others,” Rago said. “But we’re fine with looking at anything that anyone brings to our attention. So far, nobody’s done that…we have to deal with facts here in the government.” Rago added that he would look into complaints. Contact information is available here.
In a recent Email, Grant shot back with the following: “So, the question remains – why would the city not investigate hundreds of allegations of fraud by a company it continues to award exclusive contracts to?.”
In the TownSquare piece, Grant pointed to what he sees as much talk and little action, one example is a reduction in the cost of a parking ticket. Rago says the change is on hold.
The TownSquare Live story did point out that one of Grant’s top criticisms – the city profiting from booting and parking tickets – is being addressed, with budgeted revenue dropping from $5 million in 2013 to $1.4 million.
City parking enforcement practices have been a national issue, with much of the focus on Chicago. The cable TV show Parking Wars has highlighted the Parking Authority soap opera in Philadelphia. In cities like Wilmington, Philly and Chicago, enforcement miscues fall heavily on the poor, some of whom ended up with impound charges that exceed the value of their vehicles.
Are things getting better here? The sharp drop in parking fines, booting, and towing revenues suggests progress has been made.
But the system is far from perfect, and awarding the contract to City Towing is not a step foward. – Doug Rainey, chief content officer.