Letter: Failed SoNo parking policy must be addressed

To the Editor:

The Hour asked rhetorically “Is SoNo a no-go?” While I have deep admiration for a clever headline, I have deeper concerns about the perception that is silently hanging out there. Of course SoNo is a great place to go to. But the parking policy executed by the Norwalk Parking Authority has adversely affected the district beyond just being just a perception problem.

There is not a city in America where any parking story won’t garner its share of clicks, anecdotes, and outrage. No one likes taxes, death, or paying for parking. So it’s easy to write the story confirming the self-evident.

What is harder to write about, is what it means economically to a rather small city, governed by small-town politics, when one department unleashes the forces of economic destruction upon a fragile neighborhood.

Economic stories are hard. We want to relate to them through analogy – much like various officials opining that “someone has to pay for parking.” The “taxpayer” is trotted out as a heroic figure who can’t possibly subsidize “free” parking as if there are only two choices between paid parking and free parking. It’s not so simple though, as the cost of parking is intertwined in so much other economic activity and city policy that directly impact how much our heroic taxpayer is paying.

The flat growth of property values overall in Norwalk, the significant decline in property values in SoNo, directly impact our taxpayer far more than the $77,000 (or so) in revenue that the meters on street generate to the Parking Authority. Yet the impact on property values is just the tip of the proverbial economic iceberg.

SoNo’s historic district is a tourist attraction, and the jobs generated by businesses that occupy its historic buildings, the economic passive revenue generated by patrons of SoNo are valuable contributors to the overall economic health of this city.

The city of Norwalk has invested over $30 million dollars into SoNo over the years. That investment should be returning significantly to our taxpayer. It’s the heart of successful economic development. There are shining examples of how those taxpayer dollars have been invested to spur growth and prosperity to our taxpayer. Sadly, the Norwalk Parking Authority is not one of those examples.

Aggressive ticketing for time lapses and a land grab of extra parking space striping in areas where on-street parking is only is the only residential option, defeat the policy of improved quality of life. Each year, the Norwalk Parking Authority increases fees or prices to meet its budgetary goals, now surpassing $5.2 million.

It is puzzling that politically appointed watchdogs to the Norwalk parking authority board never seem to question this budget when comparable size cities manage on just $2 million budgets. It is odd that, at a time when nearby municipal governments streamline to become more efficient, Norwalk practices redundancy and overlap in city services. Was it not so long ago that the police department asked for taxpayer funding for a dedicated plow truck while the Parking Authority operates next door. No one thinks to ask why should each department have its own fleet of equipment. I too can ask a rhetorical question, “what has happened to the public in public works?”

When last year, under political pressure, the former mayor authorized police officer foot patrols in the downtown area, our heroic taxpayer was indeed paying the high price of a failed parking policy. It just didn’t conveniently fall under a neat line item called parking subsidy.

It is time for a better approach to parking policy in Norwalk. It is also time for new approach to thinking about the economic sustainability of Norwalk’s downtowns.

The easiest thing to do is live with the status quo. The harder thing to do is make changes. Why not limit enforcement tickets until after an hour has passed from the expiration time. Wouldn’t be a nice goodwill gesture? Why not make it simple to purchase an all-night block of time after 6 p.m. instead of forcing patrons to estimate the time they will spend? Instead of encouraging people to limit their time in SoNo, wouldn’t it be better to have a policy that encourages people to maximize their stay without worries?

These two things won’t solely change the dynamic of failed parking policy in SoNo overnight. However they do symbolize a change in the status quo. Longer-term changes are just as important, but the meter has expired on the current version of the Norwalk Parking Authority.

Jackie Lightfield

Jackie Lightfield is co-founder of Norwalk 2.0, a downtown economic development and arts agency, former chairwoman of the Norwalk Zoning Commission and the Norwalk Arts Commission.


45 responses to “Letter: Failed SoNo parking policy must be addressed”

  1. Bryan Meek

    Tickets issued in FY2013 for select cities and towns in CT.

    Norwalk 18,597
    Hartford 69,989
    Greenwich 65,487
    Stamford 90,000
    New Haven 158,000
    Westport 9,568
    New Canaan 13,000
    Fairfield 6,000
    Danbury 10,000
    Darien 5,952

  2. Bryan Meek

    Maritime Garage rate after 5pm. $2
    Sono On Street Parking after 9pm. Free.
    Yankee Doodle Garage after 6pm. Free.
    Wall Area On Street Parking. Free All day.
    City Hall Parking Lot. Free All Day.
    Parking Garages and Lots Monthly Permits. $36 to $90.

  3. Bryan Meek

    Greenwich is the closest city that you can somewhat compare to Norwalk being they have MNRR lots and other municipal garages, lots, and on street metered Parking.
    Two extremes here for some perspective:
    Greenwich City Hall. Metered. Strictly enforced.
    Greenwich Railroad lots. Start at $370 per month up to $590.

  4. Bryan Meek

    It might feel convenient, but you can’t compare Stamford directly to Norwalk without understanding the differernces first. The main garage in Stamford is operated by the state and there are several privately operated garages in Stamford, something Norwalk will have soon but does not yet.
    Stamford, despite some anecdotal beliefs, generated $5.5 million last year which isn’t surprising given the number of tickets they write and being a much larger city. They had a $2.2 million profit which went back to the general fund which pays their debts. Norwalk Parking Authority pays its debt from its own fund which was about $1.1 million last year.
    NPA railroad stations generate 40% of system revenues. A conservative estimate of the state owned garages in Stamford would put that number for stamford well over $3 million (The state is not so transparent here). Looking at it this way, Stamford is generating well over $8 million in public revenues from parking which you would expect.

  5. Bryan Meek

    NPA FY 2013 Revenue Mix by transaction type
    42% Monthly Permits
    41% Transient
    13% Violations
    4% Meters

  6. Bryan Meek

    NPA FY 2013 Revenue Mix by location (excluding meters and violations).
    Railroad – 44%
    Maritime – 21%
    Webster – 16%
    Haviland – 12%
    No. Water – 3%
    Wall area – 4%

  7. Bryan Meek

    NPA FY 2013 Expenses.
    Labor – 46%
    Debt – 19%
    R&M – 11%
    Utils – 7%
    Systems – 6%
    Snow – 5%
    Other – 6%

  8. Bryan Meek

    Going back to FY 2002. Parking tickets processed by NPA.

    Year # of Tickets
    2002 30,963
    2003 38,340
    2004 21,151
    2005 27,990
    2006 35,697
    2007 49,895
    2008 49,076
    2009 35,946
    2010 29,195
    2011 24,370
    2012 20,164
    2013 18,597

  9. Bryan Meek

    These are just a few numbers. What do they mean for meters?
    Meters and enforcment are done not for revenue, but for healthy turnover of vehicle spots and maintaining order in the system. For example, Greenwich city hall. I could be wrong, but I don’t think they need this money.
    Many of the formal complaints lodged against the system have to do with cars parked in certain areas all day clogging up store fronts. In order to prenvent this, you have to pay for labor to enforce the zones.
    Meters slightly offset this cost, but help more so with enforcement. In recent years the NPA has actually had a practice of issueing warning tickets in zones that have had issues with overtime limits but free parking zones on street are very expensive and difficult to enforce. The meter puts a psychological barrier on the spot to encourage the turnover of the space. The current system simply can not afford to have meter maids chalking tires every hour or two. To do so would require money from somewhere else. Maybe that is a solution, but the meters are much more cost effective means of enforcement.

  10. Dorothy Mobilia

    Jackie Lightfield provides interesting insights into the parking issues in SoNo, and they should be addressed. I would suggest only one difference–that the city and the press also interview businesses in Norwalk Center to learn about their frustrations over parking policies that are driving away customers. It’s hard enough that we’re all waiting for approvals and construction to begin on proposed projects along Wall Street, but businessmen who have stayed on despite empty storefronts and burned out buildings complain about the lack of on-street parking and the poorly thought-out parking garage that requires customers and families to walk as many as three blocks from the garage to their shopping destinations or visits to the Norwalk Library.

    We should begin to think of Norwalk as one united city when planning to solve public problems. It’s about time, after more than 100 years of consolidation.

  11. Bryan Meek

    What do these numbers mean for tickets?
    Well we are writing fewer than any time in history of the NPA. I’m not discounting anyone’s pain point here. It is just a fact. I can appreciate that some of the angst is derived from historical numbers where we were in fact more aggressive it would seem. While we have made measures to make it easier to pay, the drop is indicative of a less aggressive stance. Whether or not that takes time to resonate is anyone’s guess. I can imagine years of past experience are probably coloring the perception today.
    We can’t go backwards on this now, but the data from other towns suggests we might be at more reasonable levels. That is difficult to guage and I’m waiting for someone to jump out and say we might not be ticketing enough. I think that will always be an ongoing battle for the NPA forever and always. In a perfect world we would have zero tickets. Everyone would park where they are supposed to and leave when they are supposed to, but I doubt that will ever happen.
    Technology has been implemented and is being tested in certain areas to improve NPAs capabilities here. Pay By Cell is our fastest growing revenue stream right now and gives parkers an option to drop more money in and get text alerts when they are running near expiration. Sensors are being tested to help understand how spaces are being used so we can maximize the time zones and optimize our traffic flow.
    Bottom line is we will always ticket the eggregious violations like parking in handicap, on sidewalks, in crosswalks, blocking driveways, etc… But there should be a goal for full compliance on timed spaces and the grace periods we do have right now are not published, but if you get a ticket for going over by a few minutes, appeal it. That costs nothing, is on line and we throw a lot of those out. We can’t force people to follow policies and tickets will be written in error as humans are writing them, but ticketing unfortunately is a reality in any parking system.

  12. Bryan Meek

    What do the permit numbers mean?
    I’ve been analyzing the nubmers for several years now and have been gradually changing rates to reflect market demands. You might have noticed the meter revenues and certain areas staying flat for several years now while permits at RRs and some lots have increased. I’m not saying we need to charge several hundred dollars for these permits like Greenwich does, but we should be incrementally switching more of the costs to permit holders versus the transient parkers so vital to our local retailers. This can’t be done overnight either, but data are showing we are headed in the right direction for an optimal revenue mix that places less emphasis on the shorter term parkers. The next chair should look to steadily increase this rather than shocking the system all at once and should also be prepared to realize when that mix may need shifting. The systems and technology we are implementing are going to reduce the costs associated to the system and give basis for making educated decisions on proper zoning and pricing.

  13. Bryan Meek

    What does it all mean?
    Parking will always be an issue no matter where, when, or who is involved. This is a fact of life.
    Constant negativity in the press and amongst the rabblerouser crowd will self fulfill the prophecy of killing the district. I don’t know why some seem to be invested in this.
    I don’t discount that there are issues that can be worked on, but we had zero members from the public and zero from the press at our last NPA meeting and one sided stories all over the place. The numbers at the Maritime garage are off the chart suggesting higher attendence at the aquarium and possibly other local venues. Mama’s Boy. C-Town. The glass is half full.

  14. Oldtimer

    As long as parking ticket enforcement is considered a source of income to be maximized instead of a way to alter behavior of serious violators parking at fire hydrants and blocking driveways or crosswalks, or parking all day in spaces clearly intended for shoppers short time visits, people wlll be driven to competing businesses with FREE parking. Clearly, space is limited, but enforcement needs to recognize that parking a few minutes too long in a legal place is not reason to get hit with substantial fines. Years ago, enforcement would look for meter violations and mark tires with chalk and then only issue tickets on the next round, if vehicle was still in violation. Ticket income was not, and should never be, a reason to hand out tickets.

  15. piberman

    SoNo is a continuing trajedy with steady business turnover and indifference by our politiicians to both the needs of business owners and residents. Would it really be so terrible to put blankets on the meters at sundown or even remove the meters for an extended period to demonstrate what’s at stake ? The real stakeholders here are the SoNo business owners and residents. It may surprise the younger folks but SoNo once really hoped decades ago with a vigorous local business organization. Before the City invested in zillions in a huge garage. And no one hestitated to cross the Bridge. Lets encourage our City politiicans to actively visit SoNo during the day, evenings and weekends to learn the territory before demonstrating publicly their appalling ignorance. If they can’t understand what SoNo merchants need to thrive how can we ever have any prospects for serious City redevelopment. SoNo ought to be our showcase. It once was within living memory before the politicians interfered. So lets hood the meters for a while or at least listen to the merchants.

  16. spanner

    why not turn to the problem and problem solvers.

    the problem solvers


    The problem

    Dr. Kathryn Hebert, Chairman and Mayor’s Business Representative is Director of the Norwalk Parking Authority and the creator of the ‘art in parking places’ program. She has served on various community non profit boards including United Way, March of Dimes and Board of Governors for the Norwalk Symphony, President of the SoNo Arts Celebration. She consults with the State of Connecticut Commission on Culture and Tourism and a Member of the Board of Directors of the Norwalk Chamber of Commerce. She provides realistic solutions to encourage and assist the City’s economic vitality by connecting the creative economy with the community by creating marketing, neighborhood relations, advocacy and sustainable programs through business and community development.(from the city website)

    What do these two people have that tells us they have the ability to oversee cement work,brick laying,sign installing,parking space lining and layout,snow removal street sweeping,curb reconstruction ,rubbish removal and crowd control?This is what the Norwalk Parking Authority does daily.

    Has everyone forgot the basics of what Norwalk Parking Authority does?If I wanted art I’d go to NY.Its amazing how much can be written yet no names of those who need to be replaced ever came up.One hand washes the other mother use to say.

    MTA police are now stationed at the South Norwalk train station on more than a stop by check out and leave basis,the amount of police reports I’m sure are growing. Bryan can come up with his figures are great but is parking safe in Norwalk is the question is the train stations crime free or has that grown?The police reports I suggest posting are from Metro not Norwalk police.

    People tring to beat parking going green are having bikes stolen at the station where is the Mayors Task force?Which one take your pick they seem to have no agenda so far(another environmental release yesterday?)

    Wall st Area On Street Parking. Free All day.
    thats a joke take away parking in front of the post office and give you a free space a 1/2 mile away,give me back my dollar store you silly city planners maybe I’ll come back some day.

    Sono On Street Parking after 9pm. Free.
    for the art crowd that no longer exists in Sono they were sent packing br Rich.Free parking for the drinking crowd a bargain in any city.Thats just costing the city money.

    Greenwich is the closest city that you can somewhat compare to Norwalk

    part of the problem

    clean house,there is no reason for your average Norwalker to visit Sono unless the street is closed and entertanment is free and full of police protection.

    Let the Mayor explain what happens before all street events in Sono,the bag people sweep,the vice squad sweep,the panhandler sweep and the Homeless sweep.Then after the Parking auth sweeps then it returns to the place it is now.Why go to Sono its not a destination and yes its not Greenwich it will never be Greenwich.

    zero members from the public and zero from the press maybe zero thought is going into running the show.Give it back the city ever see what kind of quality work the parking auth does on sidewalks and signs?Painting parking lot lines with nap rollers with no breating protetction?The DPW has its own trucks and crews, sub the work out the do it right the first time.Get rid of the parking Auth.

    You can’t plan or have the solution until those doing the work are professionals.Norwalk still seems to have a room full of experts who want to spend our money while they experiment.Its not working the sysytem is broke.

  17. Meek seems obstinate to defend his position on the NPA and obviously ignores any suggestions to ways to making parking in SoNo more friendly.
    Where does HRH of Civility (rilling) stand on all this and Meeks postings (here, civil – other places, not at all).
    Maybe if Rita doesn’t stand at guard waiting for the meter to run out, it might help the reputation SoNo has hanging over its head.
    A little civility goes a long way (so does an open mind, BMeek).

  18. Bryan Meek

    Most of the meters do not require feeding much past sundown at all in the summer months. 6pm is the standard. The meters that run til 9 are on North Main street only. Business owners complained that spots were not turning over when we had it marked to 6pm there. We listened to the businesses and responded.

    Meters were removed on Main and Wall 8 years ago. What did that do?
    Stamford meters go to 8pm everywhere. With more parking coming on line in the new developments and a few spaces on North Main, we will need to monitor and revisit the situation to see how demands shift once the construction is over. Ideally there would be one time for all for consistency. But we need to examine the situation as it develops.
    I neglected to mention earlier a fact about our meters. While it might not explain all of the precipitous drop in the number of parking tickets issued over time, these machines take credit cards now. Credit card transactions today represent 71% of our business a number that has been growing and growing and growing. Parkers without change now have another option available that might have prevented them from complying with meters before.

  19. Bryan Meek

    I’m being called incivil by IrishGirl. That’s rich. If pointing out facts, trends, and what I believe will happen if we let emotions rule in making policy decisions is incivil….then I guess I am.

  20. Here you are civil but I’ve read your other responses on other sites and believe me, it is far from civil. In fact, on some occasion,s I’ve had to go the city website to figure out the difference between you and Hal Alvord.
    Keep repeating that mantra to yourself and the public….we’ll see what happens when you continuously dig your heels into the ground….wait and listen… to the sound of the wind whipping through SoNo.

    Volunteers can be replaced, correct? By the Mayor? (just asking about protocol and who to address with such responses to the public).

  21. R.M.L

    @BMeek. You are anything but uncivil. While I usually agree with the Irishgirl she is off the mark here.

  22. Bryan Meek

    All of the artwork associated with the NPA has been secured with grants at no expense to Norwalk taxpayers or customers of the parking system.
    The artworks we hang in the office exhibits have actually generated commission revenue for the NPA. This isn’t substantial, but my point is we aren’t paying for anything here and I might not have the best eye for art, but I’d say it beats a plain concrete wall.
    Don’t worry, we aren’t about to make SONO look like Port Elizabeth anytime soon with huge shipping containers covered in grafitti.

  23. Bryan Meek

    While NPA does not fight crime directly we do our best to help detect and prevent it. Part of our expenditures includes scores of cameras and video surviellance that feeds directly to the NPD. This equipment is paid for by the NPA out of its own budget and not the NPD/taxpayers. Several criminals have been apprehended using the footage we collect.
    We do our best to make sure all lights are working in all of our garages and lots as well. We have signs everywhere with the customer service number to report any issues.
    Safety is a huge concern and we are always looking at ways to make our system better in this regard. There is never a lack of room for improvement when it comes to safety.

  24. Bryan Meek

    @IrishGirl. If you can point out where I have been incivil on parking matters in any discussion, I’d be greatful for you to point it out. Not here, but in other threads I am routinely called a scumbag, hack politician, overpaid city employee, I could go on but I won’t. It may be that I quip with those who would denigrate me without justification, but I won’t be unnerved or undone by their trollism.
    The city has some great positives and some real issues. Throwing the baby out with the bathwater is the term that comes to mind that should be avoided. I get it. Parking is an easy bogeyman. Who in their right mind actually like paying for parking or tickets. I know I don’t. It’s just a reality of a city with parking garages and limited real estate for huge parking lots. I’m willing to admit parking issues, but it has to be done in context of the district and city at large.

  25. David McKenzie

    The answer is simple. The parking authority needs new blood that is able to think outside of the box.

  26. Bryan Meek

    Volunteer David. Or do you just criticize?

  27. Bryan Meek

    Going to a play later in NYC. Check out the availablility in the Sono parking garage on line. You may need a few minutes to walk from a surrounding lot or the upper floors of the garage depending on how late you might be running. You can check it out from the website.
    Coming soon we’ll have similar data for other select areas of the system. These technological improvements are being made incrementally where they make sense and with revenue neutral implications.

  28. Don’t Panic

    The fact remains that there are many, many Norwalkers who won’t go to SONO for activities because of the parking situation. They are unlikely to be persuaded by numerical arguments or comparison to other cities.

  29. Adam Blank

    I believe the SONO parking issue is as much about perception as it is about reality. If potential SONO visitors are concerned about crime, concerned about the availability of parking, the price of parking, enforcement etc. they are deterred from going to SONO. One solution is to run cheap on-street valet parking from N. Main to the maritime garage evenings. I believe FD Rich is, or will be, offering inexpensive on-street valet on Washington. If valet were in place in both these locations visitors to SONO would know they could easily “park”, know that they won’t have to pay a lot to do it or get a ticket, won’t be concerned about crime, etc. It doesn’t solve all the problems, but I believe it is a step in the right direction.

  30. Non partisan

    Just a little anecdote
    I Iove sushi
    Found a great place near the movie theater in sono
    Went to pick up a take out order. Parked in a 15 minute zone
    Came out 12 minutes after I parked to find a meter man standing at my car with a stop watch waiting to issue a ticket

    I feel bad for the owner of the sushi place because I don’t need the hassle and now go to darien for sushi.

    That’s reality

  31. Oldtimer

    Somebody needs to educate the people that issue tickets that they are, first and foremost, public relations for the city and the area they serve, SONO, in this discussion. Standing at any metered spot, waiting for the second it runs out to issue a ticket is terrible public relations and feeds the perception that SONO is a bad place to visit. Walking past a spot like that with only a few minutes left on the meter, checking back later and then writing the ticket, if the car is still in violation, is much better PR and won’t diminish parking authority revenue much. When police officers, on foot patrol, were doing parking enforcement, making friends was an important part of the job and far outweighed the revenue generating aspect. There are always plenty of non-meter violations that should be vigorously enforced without getting obsessive about a few minutes over in a metered parking place.

  32. EveT

    Please don’t try to add valet parking to the mix. What people want is an uncomplicated, secure way to park for the evening. Having to let a total stranger drive your car to an unknown “valet” location doesn’t cut it.

    Make the meters simple and consistent from one location to another, post signs that are easy to read (hint: don’t put “FREE PARKING” in large print with “6 pm to 6 am” in fine print as the garage on Burnell Blvd does), don’t require people to disclose credit card numbers via “park by phone,” and don’t pounce to write a ticket the moment the meter runs out.

    And perhaps even train your employees to display a courteous, congenial, helpful attitude to members of the public.

  33. jlightfield

    @Bryan Meek Careful there: “All of the artwork associated with the NPA has been secured with grants at no expense to Norwalk taxpayers or customers of the parking system.” Of course your statement is not true. The Norwalk Arts Commission, funded by tax payer dollars has paid for many things associated with the Maritime Garage Gallery, the curators who ran the exhibits, the openings, etc.
    Supporting public art, is always a good thing btw. Meanwhile you’ve thrown a bunch of numbers, out of context in defense of parking policy that merely serve to obfuscate the issues at hand.
    Yes we can compare the $5 parking tickets that Stamford issues at the city operated garages to the $25 tickets Norwalk issues. Yes, we can compare the simple operation of buying time in Stamford, to the complex time purchase in Norwalk.
    But that’s not comparison that is important. The important comparison is the balance between Norwalk’s $5.2 million budget and city’s like Stamford and New Haven. I maintain that the budget is excessive considering the volume of parking transactions and the number of parking assets requiring management. NPA has created an entry of redundancy that would be better served if streamlined with the rest of the City operations.
    Norwalk is the only city in Connecticut that manages not to ticket or tow cars parked on street during snow storms so that plows can get to the curbs, but tickets instead for meter expirations. It kind of says it all, short sighted policy governed by an outside vendor instead of serving the publics best interests.

  34. Samuel

    Oldtimer hits the nail on the head.. Seeing the behavior of the meter guys over the years has made for bad public relations. They wait for the second you go over and they’ve already written out the ticket beforehand. All the numbers and figures sound impressive on paper but they can’t measure the public’s perception.

    It’s worth noting that the meter people don’t work for the city but rather a private company

  35. Samuel

    everyone should read the post by Non partisan- it sums up the problem perfectly

  36. norwalker

    Bryan Meek- when is the next NPA meeting? Maybe with the latest headlines people will start attending these meetings and we can get something done here

  37. Bryan Meek

    @JL. Thanks for the correction on the art costs and providers. I was more trying to make the point they were revenue neutral to the NPS, except for when we can help some folks sell some pieces. I know grants don’t grow on trees. As well, I know the winners are usually more than worthy.
    Adam Blank is on target. Valet service demands are increasing. If they don’t detract from the overall operations and continue to be a service people are willing to pay for, I see no reason to not offer it. It isn’t a money maker but goes a long way to those softer points of service and image that some are emphasizing.
    The 15 minute free parking at Webster is intended for the takeout or bank customer. I agree meter maids should not be hawking over potential violations. However, we get complaints about abuse of the 15 minutes and have to enforce. So, this is something not all can agree upon.
    I also agree there should be some sensitivity to customers in this regard and maybe we should have some ticket issuance etiquette guidelines, but these are hard to develop and implement without documentation. We have over 100,000 transactions a month and less than 5 customer issues raised via the website and about 200 ticket appeals. Thanks.

  38. Scott Kuykendall

    After reading all the back and forth here it’s time to add my two cents’s worth: I had the same experience as many here: parked at the Maritime Aquarium, got back to my car one minute after my time expired and found a ticket waiting for me. Meter patrol nowhere to be seen. That in itself tells me that the ticketing practice is predatory.
    So, being properly incensed, I took up the issue with the Parking Authority. Filed a written appeal, mailed it in. Waiting, waiting, until one day, I receive what looks to be a response from NPA in the mail. Finally, i thought. Wrong… it was a notice telling me my original fine had been doubled to $50!
    So, after contacting the NPA via phone, I was told that I needed to take my case in person down to the office at the Maritime Garage, where I was then told that I need to call LAZ to have the issue handled, which I do. The LAZ representative that I eventually ended up speaking with could not have been more arrogant and less concerned with the situation and was absolutely no help at all, telling me that I would just have to live with it. By the time I finished that call I was apoplectic. In my history of dealing with customer service representatives, the top prize for worst experience goes to LAZ. Not a proud accomplishment.
    So, Mr. Meek, that experience tells me volumes about the intent and purpose of the Parking Authority and LAZ, which is to generate as much revenue as possible from people parking in SONO, regardless of the damage done to the City’s reputation and to make the appeal process as cumbersome as possible. Your many posts here in defense of, and without any meaningful response to, those stepping forward to express themselves, only reinforces that perception.

  39. Scott Kuykendall

    *”in defense of the NPA” I should have said.

  40. Bryan Meek

    Ticket # please.

  41. Scott Kuykendall

    That was several years ago.

  42. Bryan Meek

    Scott, did you not read the data I provided? Clearly things have changed from a couple of years ago. Besides the drop in ticket volume there is a different general manager and the staff have had workshops to foster teamwork and situation management since then. Don’t fall into the self defeating jaws of the glass is half empty crowd. I could go on here about the number of times our staff has been physically assaulted (not just verbally) and make excuses about how that has put some of them on edge, but I won’t. Our workshops actually focused on these types of situations and how to best handle them. No one is perfect and people do have bad days. The important thing for people to remember is that there are ways to file formal complaints that can be used constructively. They aren’t by any means dismissed with zero regard. We take them seriously.

  43. norwalker

    I think the parking infrastructure and technology is a well-oiled machine- streamlined, efficient, high-tech.

    What I’m getting from this is the meter hawks are over-zealous. They hide, they wait, and they pounce.

    I think a small step could be taken which would go a long way in healing the reputation: namely – stop the predatory tactics. Scott’s story is all too common. He tried to appeal it and got nowhere because those LAZ people don’t care.

    I went through something similar with them back in 07. I lived on Washington St and used to pay for 24 hours at N. Water st. (back when you could park overnight) I would still get ticketed though I had paid for the spot. Every day I’d go down to the LAZ office, show them my receipt and get the ticket thrown out. It got pretty ridiculous A few times I couldn’t find the receipt and the fines would double. It took a hearing at city hall to resolve the matter. Luckily all the fines were tossed and they apologized. It was pretty stressful because the feeling was always that those guys were out to get people no matter what.

  44. EnoughisEnough

    What about all the trips and Parking conferences that City Employee and Parking Authority Executive Director Kathryn Hebert goes to – Chicago, Boston, Florida, etc.? Do we pay for those too? Nice to have a city job that pays $150K and be on Facebook all day, travel to conferences, serve on the Board of Chamber of Commerce, tout art exhibits while parking continues to be a problem! Enough is enough. Do your job or get out! You can no longer hide behind Moccia’s skirt!

    Editor’s note: Ms. Hebert’s salary in 2013 was listed as $116,888.65. She is listed officially as administrative services manager and is the city staff person assigned to the parking authority.

  45. DH


    I do not see a single statistic on Lease turn over rates in SONO vs other municipalities you quoted. It really is the only objective measurement of your policy decisions. Consumers have choices in the county and they are exercising that choice. The failure to recognize parking as a key component of the local entertainment economy is representative of a group of planner’s that clearly do not understand the implications of their policy choices. Good luck Bryan, apologize all you want with comparative parking statistics while the cold reality of “Closed” signs litter Washington Street. Keep telling yourself, “it’s can’t be the parking policy”, and everything will be alright.

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