muckraker report

Scrambling for cash, Detroit pursues aggressive crackdown on parking ticket scofflaws

parking bootThe last time Mayor Dave Bing tried to crack down on parking ticket scofflaws, the city of Detroit forgot to update the meters to begin enforcing extended hours. Then a company hired to collect money from new electronic parking meters bailed out because of frustrations with the city. Many of those meters no longer work.

Now Bing wants to increase parking fines and ramp up enforcement. Three delinquent tickets – instead of the current six – would get your car booted and your license revoked under an arrangement with the Secretary of State’s Office.

The revenue-generating plan was included in the mayor’s 2013-13 budget proposal and would need approved by new Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr.

Bing’s ambitious plan aims to raise an additional $1.4 million from parking violations.

Past efforts haven’t been so successful. Despite spending more to enforce parking violations and collect fines, records show the city collected $500,000 less last year than it did in 2011. The $11.4 million that the city collected from parking scofflaws last year fell far short of the administration’s fluctuating estimates.

But much of the fault falls on motorists, about two-thirds of whom don’t pay their tickets, according to city records. Bing hopes to improve the collection rate to 50% with more aggressive enforcement.

The city has about 36 parking enforcement officers, each of whom issue an average 66 tickets a day, records show.

Detroit City Council is expected to soon hold a public hearing on the mayor’s $1 billion budget proposal.

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Steve Neavling, who lives on the city’s east side, is an investigative journalist, a freelance reporter for Reuters and former city hall reporter for the Detroit Free Press. Neavling explores corruption, Detroit’s unsung heroes and the underbelly of an oft-misunderstood city.

Follow us on Twitter and Facebook for many more daily updates, investigations, photos and videos of the Motor City. 

Steve Neavling

Steve Neavling lives and works in Detroit as an investigative journalist. His stories have uncovered corruption, led to arrests and reforms and prompted FBI investigations.

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  • Paul Bowman

    I’ve been issued multiple tickets at meters that didn’t work, even after leaving notes on my car saying the meter doesn’t work. How do they expect you to put coins in a meter that doesn’t function? Lot owners make a point of disabling meters to force drivers into their lots for fear of being ticketed.

    I drive through downtown all day long, and there are meters that haven’t worked in months, but drivers are still issued tickets. It’s bogus, and the parking enforcement employees write lots of tickets that are essentially garbage. Don’t ticket someone unless your equipment works.

  • bebow

    While I’m on a roll, let me advise everyone that I have discovered parking meters calibrated to expire prior to the allotted time. Beware.

  • bebow

    Mayor Bing needs to be advised that his parking enforcement employees are riding through the neighborhoods, taking down license plate numbers, and sending tickets via mail for fictitious violations. No, we won’t be paying or wasting time fighting the corrupt incompetents in court. Now, what about the money the City of Detroit owes us and refuses to pay? Pay up, Deadbeat Detroit Bourgies, and stop trying to run game.

  • Neil Moore

    Yeah on raising the meter prices. I think a lot of times it is the suburbanites who come downtown or midtown party for a night, get a ticket and then just disregard it (basically saying “f” Detroit.) Sadly the flip-side is that a large majority of Detroiters who are barely keeping the cars running or paying for gas get tickets and just really can’t spare the $20, even the $10 early pay.

    I think we need to raise the price in these high traffic areas, but take meters out of the neighborhoods which do effect local, small businesses. We could however invest in more traffic cameras and items like that to take some of the burden off of Police. I just hate when the Mayor or City Council invest so much time and energy into these one-off revenue raising schemes that either fail or backfire miserably.

    Do they ever do feasibility studies?

  • Rachel

    Go to any other big city across the United States and ticket prices can range from $40-$150. That is how a city thrives and gets its money.. Detroit should up the price maybe they would not be so brokeG

  • cattgirl0813

    I was downtown on Tuesday evening and pulled up to a meter in Harmonie Park. When I put my quarter in the meter, I discovered the meter was broken. I then moved to a second meter. Same thing. I circled around to a lot that was supposed to be free, only to encounter a man pretending to be the parking attendant hustling people for money. I kept going and went to a third meter, and finally found one working. About a week earlier, I encountered a similar problem in New Center. While I understand the city wanting to recoup fees for parking violations, I can’t help but wonder if the city is creating parking scofflaws by failing to maintain meters or monitor paid lots as they should.

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  • Webb

    I will never understand the argument that because Detroit doesn’t do a good job on policing that they should just let people break other laws as well.

    Nor will I understand why people claim no one will go to Detroit because it costs so much to park, yet the prices and enforcement are the same in hotspot Royal Oak.

    • Flair Detroit

      Detroit is not RO…yet, so we should have let the meters stop at 6:00 to create a competitive edge.

    • Flair Detroit

      Plus they need to fix all the meters first!

  • Allan Hill

    The high price of parking along with the H I G H price of tickets and O V E R enforcement of parking , encourages people to seek out other communitys to visit and spend money . Where else in the known world the crime of an expired meter bring the immedite attention of the authority’s ?. And you wait your turn when crying for help in the case of an occasional rape,murder. home invasion, or auto theft ?