Social media outcry adds suspicion to Norwalk man’s parking ticket anger
NORWALK, Conn. — Norwalk parking ambassadors are not using an app that alerts them to expiring parking meters, Norwalk Director of Transportation, Mobility, and Parking James Travers said Wednesday.
Former Common Council member Manny Langella said he heard the claim Tuesday after publicizing his own parking ticket dismay on social media.
Langella was headed back to his car Sept. 14 because the ParkMobile App had notified him that his meter was expiring and was “literally on the app adding more time” when he saw a Norwalk Parking Authority officer “already issuing a ticket,” he said in an email to Mayor Harry Rilling. Langella waved and “stated that I was, ‘In process of adding time!’ They looked at me, waved back, all while continuing to slap the ticket on my windshield and ran to their vehicle and sped off.”
His time had expired at 9:04 a.m. and the ticket was written at 9:05 a.m., Langella said.
“This blew my mind,” Langella wrote. “I found it very hard to understand that this individual was able to locate the vehicle, run the plate, take a picture with their iPad, print the ticket, and place on my windshield in under 1 minute as well as beating me to replenishing time. I literally had a ticket issued faster than my ability to checkout and add time on the app on my iPhone. For the first time in a long time, I felt powerless and equally enraged (especially after he waved back at me knowing full well he ‘beat me to the punch’ like it was this some sort of contest for him.)”
Langella said he found it “deeply concerning” that his posts on Facebook and Instagram prompted many responses, both from Norwalkers and from other parts of the state. “There are claims that the NPA utilize an app that gives them a location of vehicles that are expiring as well as the amount of time remaining. There are claims that Small Businesses across the State are now entrenched in attempting to fight this.”
He also said he had tagged the NPA page, Mayor’s page, Norwalk support groups, and entire State Delegation and hadn’t gotten any replies. He hoped it had been a “system glitch” and “not an app that allows them to always be ‘in the right place at the right time’.”
“I do apologize for the inconvenience this parking ticket caused and understand that no one enjoys getting a parking citation.
“However, let me start by stating that parking enforcement officers do not have access to any system that alerts them to when a meter is expiring, or the location of a vehicle that is expiring, or the time remaining. This is false. Rather, they have a system in their vehicle that scans license plates and alerts them to vehicles that are in violation as they drive down the street. But this only alerts them to vehicles that are in violation.
“I have researched this particular violation you’re referring to and the parking time did in-fact expire at 9:04AM as stated. When the parking enforcement vehicle drove past this vehicle at 9:05AM, the system sent an alert of an expired parking session. The parking enforcement officer issued the citation at 9:07AM. Because the plate was first identified at 9:05AM, the system keeps the original time that the violation was captured. Again, the parking enforcement officers do not know the length of time a vehicle is in violation, only that it is in violation. There was no ‘system glitch’.
“Furthermore, social media accounts such as Facebook and Instagram are not actively monitored for complaints. If anyone is interested in contesting a citation the reverse side of the citation lists the procedures that should be followed. It should be noted that ParkMobile sends an alert 15 minutes prior to a parking session ending to alert parkers to either return to the vehicle or to extend the parking session. As unfortunate as parking citations are, in this case the meter was expired and the parker was sent a notification 15 minutes prior.”
Langella, in the email to Rilling, stressed that he wasn’t looking for help with an appeal. He isn’t one to “put on the tinfoil hat” but all the calls and comments suggested “there is something here,” and if not, the disinformation needed to be combatted.
When he was on the Council from 2019 to 2021, members pushed for a five-minute grace period, he said. Additionally, during COVID tickets weren’t issued and now that inflation has hit 9%, “I’d say now is a better time than ever to revisit.”
He also asked when the next Norwalk Parking Authority meeting is.
Travers said, “As it pertains to Norwalk Parking Authority Board meetings, all City Common Council, Boards, Commissions, and Authority meetings are posted on the City website. You can locate them by visiting… https://apps.norwalkct.org/meetingboard There is opportunity for public comment at the beginning of every meeting.”
Langella email to City Hall
On Thursday, Langella requested that his full email be posted. Though addressed to Rilling, he also copied Chief of Staff Laoise King and [email protected]
He said he hadn’t gotten any replies.
Hello Mayor Rilling,
First thank you for your service to Norwalk and for leading our City.
Updated, 2:11 p.m.: More information.
David Osler March 16, 2023 at 6:49 am
How about we s*** can most of the ticketing systems in the city and get rid of the concept at the mall completely maybe charge for overnight parking just to keep out abandoned vehicles for non employees. If the city wants to try to stimulate growth in this area they seriously need to stop copying New York City and yes I have got them parking tickets in nyc while parking or paying the meter Norwalk seems to be copying this it’s a horrible plan.
Manny Langella March 16, 2023 at 7:19 am
Let me deconstruct Mr. Travers quote and walk back my understanding for our constituents…
“All meters should be replenished 15 minutes prior to expiry, not when you notified in ParkMobile of expiry.”
Fair assumption, but this is not what happened to me or a “one size fit all” approach.
I’d like to ask the leadership of this City if this experience would be acceptable to them? It’s sorry to say we need a third party to facilitate dialogue.
Happy to chat.
Luis Estrella March 16, 2023 at 7:37 am
The owner of Memos restaurant recently did an interview with a Hispanic reporter on how the parking authority is harassing him and hurting his business.
Nora King March 16, 2023 at 8:06 am
One point to make is often the app is glitchy.
Eduardo Sanchez March 16, 2023 at 9:45 am
These guys are predatory, period. They love the Wall st/Main st/River st area in particular. The area is a dump and there are a ton of low lifes. And how do we reward patrons that willingly come to spend their money down there? With tickets. Ticket if you’re a minute late. Ticket if you accidently put your license plate number in wrong by 1 digit. Ticket if you didn’t back in to certain parking spots. Ticket for parking in a 15 minute free parking spot for 13 minutes. My money is spent elsewhere.
Johnny cardamone March 16, 2023 at 10:28 am
I remember 40 years ago being in Gus‘s shoe store on Wall Street, parked right out, front and went in to drop off some shoes and just chitchatting with him and the next thing the guy out there writing me with a five dollar ticket! I went to fight City Hall and now like a lot of people I’m just tired from all the nonsense! Free Parking!!!
Michael McGuire March 16, 2023 at 11:57 am
Interesting. Several years ago, I was told by the former head of NPA that NPA/Laz had installed censors (the round black things in most street parking spaces in the urban areas) along with the relays (the small black boxes) strapped to the streetlight posts a foot or so back from the actual light itself. You can clearly see them in the Wall Street area on every other, or third streetlight.
She told me that the technology could be and was being used to notify NPA/Laz “Parking Ambassadors” when a parker is overstaying their welcome.
Perhaps they are not using it anymore?
I have long contended with NPA that anyone overstaying a parking space time limit is most likely conducting business in the City of Norwalk. A ticket is bad for business.
How about a kind reminder that Norwalk appreciates their business and since the parker is now overstaying the allotted time the City will apply a premium parking fee of say $1.50 or $2.00 to cover the next hour as a way of being fair. And make it easy to pay via the app. Beyond that stiffer could apply.
$25 tickets that grow exponentially are not fair and they chase business away. How many of you have made the choice, or know of others who have chosen to limit or not patronize restaurants in the parking fee areas?
Tysen Canevari March 16, 2023 at 3:13 pm
The ironic part is the mayor was quoted during the last election as stating that the businesses in town want the paid parking. Last time I went to Coals for a pizza they didnt seem happy that their clients have to tack on $3 to their bill to eat there. We pay taxes to take care of the roads here and then we have to pay a fee to park on them. Someday I hope a mayor will revoke that whole joke of a plan! The best part is backing in to a spot on Wall Street. That way you can make a faster get away with a piece of Tyvek when it falls off the Tyvek temple! LOL
Manny Langella March 16, 2023 at 8:41 pm
Dear Mr. Travers,
The argument that you should replenish with the 15 min warning is ridiculous. What if you don’t need extra time?
Appreciate the cushioning, but Google the NPA. They have a rating of 1.7. That is your NPS (Net Promotor Score). That is the voice of the people you represent.
Re-implement the grace period that was in effect when we were going through COVID. Give constituents at least 1-2 minutes to replenish vs. Paying for time they do not need. Consider warnings again.
I’m not just some disgruntled constituent in the wrong. I care about each and every person that voted for me.
I’d have appreciated the ability to actually talk to you person to person here. Not have my email discarded.
Be better. Strengthen the relationship with the community.
Victor Cavallo March 16, 2023 at 10:30 pm
Most certainly, the principal factor that causes the demise of businesses in SoNo is the predatory parking policies established by this administration. Buy a meal and buy yourself a guaranteed parking violation that can triple the cost of your poke bowl? No thanks, I’ll go to Westport.
Robert Sander Dalldorf March 17, 2023 at 7:32 am
Alright, here’s my anecdote. On October 5th of last year, we had a tropical storm approach the coast. Being a weather nerd, and thinking Calf Pasture was a great spot to check out said weather, I pulled in the front gate area. I noted there was nobody on duty, carefully read the signs (which gave no information on where to park, the temporary signs they have up in peak season were put away), and proceeded to park in the lot immediately to the left. I will add that I am a Wilton resident, and unaware that this lot was for paid beach passholders in the city of Norwalk. Well, 10 min later I found a $200 ticket on my windshield. I saw, across the parking lot, what seemed to be a teenager speeding around, running stop signs, smoking what appeared to be weed, writing tickets. Predatory, ridiculous, unfair, cheap…I could go on. I avoid Norwalk whenever I can now. They granted zero leniency, honestly screw them. Turning the town into Harbor Point “light” – no thanks. Absurdity running the show down there.
Manny Langella March 17, 2023 at 8:21 am
“Furthermore, social media accounts such as Facebook and Instagram are not actively monitored for complaints.”
How is this ok? One of the largest cities in CT and we don’t monitor social?
Correct, no one likes tickets. What people really don’t like is being ignored by an agency when they take time out to try and have a conversation or ask questions. In tour words Mr. Travers, “flipping the ticket over and following the directions”.
Let’s have a conversation. If not, I’m more than happy to resurface at the next committee meeting as well as the next debate for candidates.
John O'Neill March 17, 2023 at 1:36 pm
Shoot — I almost forgot to ask whether those responsible for the ridiculous “back-in” parking on and around Wall Street have been identified. I still believe those involved began smoking pot before it was legalized. Otherwise, how would they have come up with such a ridiculous concept?