Quit Feeding The “Monster”

Since Atlanta outsourced its parking enforcement services to PARKatlanta in 2009, living and working in the city has been nothing but a hassle.

Every other month or so it seems they’re finding some way to squeeze out yet another nickel, dime and quarter from the city and its taxpayers with the tenacity of a turn-of-the-century robber baron.

And yet, the city’s latest concessions to the California-based parking enforcement company go even farther, hiking up tickets by an additional $10 with late fees pushing tickets all the way up to $95 per offense in some cases.

Well, enough is enough. The city needs to man up and end its busted contract with PARKatlanta, effective immediately.

Since its creation, PARKatlanta has done nothing but apparently suck city residents dry and discourage local business thanks to its willingness to enforce parking rules with what appears to be the single-minded efficiency of Satan himself.

Not only have they expanded parking meters across the metro area, much to the ire of local business people and Atlanta residents, but they’ve also ramped up enforcement in areas not usually enforced, typically with little to no warning.

And it’s not just those “rightfully” ticketed that are upset with PARKatlanta. In many cases, PARKatlanta has been caught improperly ticketing vehicles with little means of disputing the tickets, which has led some to sue the company in a recent lawsuit.

Indeed, business owners have long bemoaned the consequences of increased enforcement against their customers.

One of PARKatlanta’s most vocal detractors, famed restaurateur Paul Luna, most notably of Loca Luna, told the Atlanta-Journal Constitution last year that the company was slowly killing his business.

“Whenever someone comes out and sees a boot on his car, there goes the customer,” Luna said last July. “How can this not be affecting any of the neighborhood businesses?”

Forged in the depths of the Great Recession, PARKatlanta’s original contract, an arrangement that would have granted the city more than 5 million dollars annually, would have allowed the company to enforce parking rates 24/7 around the city – an oversight designed with only the company’s, and not the people’s, financial interests in mind.

Realizing the error of its ways, and perhaps first glimpsing the monster they’d created, the city voted to amend its deal to limit PARKatlanta to normal enforcement hours — but not before taking a 4 million dollar hit in revenue.

The city council has since taken the issue back up again, some originally favoring restoring the original contract, but ultimately deciding to increase fines in June.

But that doesn’t make the deal much sweeter, either.

The city will barely be making more than when it handled enforcement operations in-house — and now with the threat of an $8 million exit fee hanging above its head.

Still, while ditching PARKatlanta may seem like a tough pill to swallow, consider that multiple council members already support measures to stop “feeding the monster,” including Kwanza Hall and Felicia Moore.

And efforts to kick PARKatlanta to the curb, so to speak, have grow increasingly popular online, where nearly a thousand people support efforts to “Fire PARKatlanta” on Facebook.

Because ultimately most of Atlanta has come to the realization that desperately privatizing the city’s parking enforcement system in a time of economic uncertainty without proper controls to check excessive enforcement was a mistake.

Now we just have to convince the rest of the city council of that.


2 Responses to “Quit Feeding The “Monster””
  1. Ha, love the way the monster parking meter came out.

  2. Thanks! Yeah it took me about an hour to take the photo and edit it the way I wanted. I like it, though.

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This is the personal page of Chris Shattuck -- an Atlanta-based media professional with a background in business reporting, nonprofits and agency PR.

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