Apr 8, 2015

The Monster Parking Authority

Back in September, I wrote about a center city homeowner exasperated beyond fairness by the Allentown Parking Authority. Here are a few excepts from his letter in that post.

I am writing to express my surprise and dismay upon receiving yet another citation from the City of Allentown.
This time a street cleaning ticket. THIS ONE IS FOR 50.00!! It states repeat offender.
Is this really how to construct a GOOD neighborhood?
Now I am in the pool for the city to collect fifty dollars at a time?
This policy is unbelievable and unconscionable.
I realize that the city is hurting for money, but this is not the way to raise revenue.
Sweep tickets, APA tickets, all kinds of inspections, fees to visit fish, and what else?
I really wanted to have a good experience living in this city.
You must not allow the city to tax/fine/extort this kind of money from cash strapped intercity residents.
I will not pay 50.00 for a street sweeping ticket.
The insult is further compounded because there is no redress to these matters prior to the escalation of the fine fee.
No good will come from the City of Allentown continually stepping on the very citizens that stabilize our neighborhoods.
Mark's new letter, to the full City Council

Where did this insult of a program (the "repeat offender designation")originate and who supported it?
I am a stabilizing element in my neighborhood and a twenty year plus resident in center city Allentown.
I pay my taxes and my street cleaning fees.
The Allentown Parking Authority makes a profit from street sweeping. I have now been designated as a "repeat offender".
Am I to be subject to this new tax forever? This is certainly another tax.
How about parking tickets? Will they too have a repeat offender category?
I Have to work different hours, and can't always get back to move a vehicle at noon.
I can't park on the north side of my block because drug dealers punch and otherwise dent my and other citizens cars parked in front of their shops.
The Allentown police are working hard to control this problem - tax money well spent.
The police department does not produce income. Why does the Allentown Parking create wealth?
Hammering low income city folks with this predatory penalty driven program to fill city coffers is just wrong.
Living in the center city should be tolerable and maybe even safe and enjoyable for residents.
One more straw on your camels back.
This is how you cause citizens to say "I'm done".
I would appreciate a response. Please tell me how wrong I am and why.
Thank you,
Mark's reward for his protest? While waiting for his day in district court to appeal his "Repeat Offender" status, the Parking Authority mounted the orange boot on his car. While OAPA holds house tours on 8th Street, and $millions of dollars are spent dressing up 7th Street, the salt of our city is punished for living on 6th Street.

UPDATE: The above post is reprinted from November of 2010. As I wrote yesterday, I have posted often about the Authority. A decade ago, I would go toe to toe with the director at City Council meetings and outside her office. It's somewhat awkward now, because I'm friendly with the current director. However, the same essential flaw exists with the Authority. That flaw is that it allows itself to be periodically used by Pawlowski's Administration, to further some other city agenda, at the direct expense of the residents.


Anonymous said...

Comrade Molovinsky,

Two dollar beers at the arena tonight.

Come and honor the Allentown Police Department for keeping you safe from harm!

Check out the special jerseys the Lehigh Valley Phantoms will wear to honor the APD. You be able to bid lots of money for one via auction at a later date in time. The money will be used to "benefit" the APD, so, in other words it is for a great cause.

There is absolutely no truth to the subversive rumor that the jersey auction money will be used to fund the U.S Senatorial Campaign of heroic and transformative Comrade Pawlowkski.

Did I mention two dollar beers?

Come and help the City Without (Spending?) Limits march forward to progress.


Col. Viktor Tikhonov
Soviet Red Army (ret)

Anonymous said...

There used to be a reason to go downtown on Hamilton Street. The major department stores, places like Kay Jewlers, Weatherhold and Metzger, Speedy's Record Shop, Hi-Fi Pizza Pie, There was even a teenage nightclub at 8th and Hamilton called "I Like it Like That". it was in the basement of 8th Street below Fanny Farmer and just before the old Strand Theater that was turned into a card store.

These days, millions have been spent to tear down Woolworths, McCorrys, Greens, and all the other stores along Hamilton Street that I would go to on Saturday mornings just to spend some money on records.. and yes go to the Upper Story head shop :)

Now, other than some expensive restaurants that serve food priced 20x higher than what it should, just what in hell is there to do down there except gawk at buildings that honestly.. have no style and are quite sterile looking??

I can get a cheesesteak at Zandys, and the diner at 9th & Linden is a lot cheaper than what's his name's up at 9th and Hamilton.. There is no Boyd, or Rialto, or Colonial theater up there... Just some buildings to look at and basically nothing else.

And now I'm supposed to have my pockets raped to park up there? Park and Shop would at least get my ticket validated if I bought something on Hamilton Street.

If Big ed thinks there is a Renaissance Downtown.. he's out of his Mind.

I hope he resigns and decides to run for Senator. Then perhaps he'll get a U-haul and go back to Chicago, and politics here in Allentown will go back to normal.. not the Mayor Dayley way of doing things

michael molovinsky said...

@9:05, i can tell from your references that, like me, you're older than dirt. i doubt that pawlowski would resign to run for the senate. what is sure from both the governor run, and now the senate run, is that he can't wait to get out of dodge before it's apparent that the NIZ expectations will not be met. you're correct that all the new construction is an architectural wasteland. it's rather amazing that they could spend so much money and create no new ambience.

DreamingOfJustice said...

The new buildings are just that- a stack of steel, plywood, concrete, gravel, and glass. They look generic and represent mediocrity in architecture and have zero style or grace. The scores of dilapidated old buildings could have been renovated with financing programs like Baltimore's Homesteading Program: buyers purchase run-down properties for as little as a dollar with the commitment to complete rehabilitation within 2 years. The Homesteading Program in Baltimore resulted in sharply increased home values which in turn raised property taxes to turn the City of Baltimore a tidy sum. Formerly abandoned rows of crack dens became "Community Development Clusters" and marketed as such, attracted a new demographic: the "creative class", architects and other professionals who traditionally have made up the core of upscale city dwellers. This was no experiment; the marketing of otherwise less desirable homes and neighborhoods to attract a new middle class has been replicated many times in other cities.
Marketing and urban planning on a 5 to 20 year long timeline takes patience, experience and commitment from a City Administration. Stripping the core out of ethnic neighborhoods and replacing it with anonymous plastic, steel and glass will only pad a very short term resume.

DreamingOfJustice said...


Rich Fegley said...

Park and Shop. Sounds good but as a merchant, I just end up paying the Parking Authority for my guest's parking. But I don't set the rates. I also do not know the details of what those parking fees are spent on.

Here's a thought...parking meters are for short term parking that is on the street close to businesses. Manage (police) the meters and fine those that misuse the meters. BUT, there needs to be inexpensive (sometimes free) off street parking for longer term shoppers and even residents.

What is the logic behind APA's plan? What is APA's full plan?

I don't think residents should park on COMMERCIAL streets such as the 800 block of Hamilton. And...Streets that no longer have commercial businesses should have their meters removed.

Then...Offer parking permits for all residents on all streets.

Sounds like the start of a plan, yes?

doug_b said...

Three stories: one on Allentown, two on Minneapolis.

I was criticized about my 'opinion' of the row homes in Allentown. Basically I said they were obsolete - and partly because many don't have garages. These poor people are to be harvested, adinfinitum for petty violations. Don't pay the ticket - you get a warrant.

Last year in Minneapolis the Vikings played in the UM stadium (cause they're building a new stadium) (we have a stadium for just about every man, woman, and child) People fly in / come from out of State. There wasn't much snow on the ground - we got 4" that morning - no big deal. Well Minneapolis declared a snow emergency. The out to towners parked were they could. There are no signs. Long story short Mpls towed over 300 cars - for 4" of snow. Between the ticket and tow it was over $300. Presto - $90,000 in one day - gotta pay for those stadiums some how.

Minneapolis has lots of money. They replaced the meters with a little stick - with a space number on it. You go to the corner tap in you space number, hrs requested, and credit card. This is real convenient, especially at night, in winter, at -10. However this allow them to raise the rates exorbitantly - like for games / entertainment. Now for the good part - you have to look real careful at that 'stick' - It may have a caution that says "no parking 4 - 6" it's in 8 point type, with the snow, you can't get close enough to read it. I was sitting in a brew pup about 4:15 - I saw a slew of tow trucks and parking enforcement people. They cleaned out the entire block in 5 minutes. The bartender said "It happens every day".

Anonymous said...

The city should rethink their street sweeping policy on 7th Street. Current practice is to do at lunch time. One side on Tues, the other on Wed. Imaging the revenue that could be gained by street sweeping at 7pm on arena nights. Those suburbanites need to pay up.

Anonymous said...

Are parking authorities regulated by PUC? Maybe they should be. No other utility in the Commonwealth can entrap people and charge excessive fees. How can they jack up fees for Hockey patrons and not other groups holding events in the City?