The problematic new parking meters in Bridgeport's downtown have been a headache for everyone. They automatically photograph your license plate and mail out large fines if the mechanism senses an infraction, which we can tell you from personal experience aren't necessarily warranted.
The Connecticut Post has reported that the two council members — Jack Banta and Denese Taylor-Moye — want a year-long moratorium on parking enforcement. They also have submitted a resolution to sever Bridgeport’s contract with LAZ, the private firm hired to manage the city’s parking system. (See the whole story here.)
Retired Judge Carmen Lopez has been vocal about the system, and has taken the city to court. Lopez successfully argued there was no signage warning her or other drivers of the aggressive new parking system, which automatically issues a violation within five minutes of a car pulling up to the curb if not fed.
Yesterday, we spotted a businessman on Middle Street pulling up to a metered spot. He paused to send a text before feeding the meter. Did he pay it in time, or will he get a $40 fine in the mail?
What do you think? You have a chance to speak your mind Monday at City Hall.
Bridgeport Generation Now is organizing citizens to come to the City Council meeting. We urge you to join them. See their Facebook Event Page.
Here's what the organizers say:
In theory, parking meters are good as they promote space turnover and are supposed to encourage traffic flow. In Bridgeport, we have had some massive fundamental issues.. In 1993, we killed our Parking Authority and placed enforcement under the Police Department.
BPT had the highest Parking fine in the state at $35, and tickets doubled after 14 days. In May 2016, City Hall had the fine raised to it's present day $40. That is the highest in the state by $15, (Norwalk, New Haven, Hartford are $25, everyone else $15-$20).
Over this time, despite being state law, the revenue from the Parking Meters never fed back into the downtown district or the updating, maintenance of our parking system.
In fact, to remedy this problem, #wethepeople paid for three parking studies that all concluded the same solution:
2007 Master Plan for Downtown cites need for Parking Authority (https://tinyurl.com/
2011 Parking Study cites need for Parking Authority (https://tinyurl.com/
2014 Parking Study cites need for Parking Authority (https://tinyurl.com/
If all the Plans and Studies suggest that we must have a Parking Authority to succeed, why we still do not have a Parking Authority?
1) The city collects an average of $400k annually in coins from meters
2) The city collects an average of $1.1 Million annually in fines.
3) That $1.5 Million annual baseline does not include tow and boot fees the Police Dept makes.
4) Also does not include collection of outdated fines thru DMV enforcement that have doubled in value. .(Towns of 100k or more can participate in the state wide program w/DMV enforcement)
QUESTIONS FOR COUNCIL:
Did Bridgeport avoid a Parking Authority because it would eliminate the $1.5 Million the city currently collects? Under a Parking Authority, this money would become the operating budget of that entity. Who is currently collecting and accounting for this money?
Is the current structure - a "Parking Division," under the authority of Public Facilities - even legal? According to CT State Statute 7204, only a Parking Authority can enforce metered parking: https://www.cga.ct.gov/
Was the 5-year, $100,000 consulting agreement with LAZ Parking properly contracted?
Did the city do their due diligence to prove the current meters were the most technologically effective?
MPS, a company based in Minnesota is the operator of the meters. This company receives 85% of all fines collected, which averages . Is this a peverse incentive to fine our residents - many of whom are low-income - as much as possible?
TWO PROPOSED RESOLUTIONS by 131st Council Representatives:
1) 12-MONTH MORATORIUM on Parking Meters
2) TERMINATE LAZ CONTRACT