May 22, 2015

The Allentown Parking Authority Monster

Although the shopping district in Allentown has shrunk down to only Hamilton and 7th Streets, the meter district remains as it did during the heydays of the 1950's. The meters extend from Walnut to Chew, from 5th to 10th, well over 1000 meters in 20 sq. blocks. Parking meters extend out to 10th and Chew Sts, three full blocks beyond the closest store.* These meters are a defacto penalty for the residents, mostly tenants. In essence, it is a back door tax on Allentown's poorest citizens. The apologists claim the tenants can purchase a resident meter pass, however their friends and visitors cannot. To add insult to injury, in 2005, to help finance a new parking deck for the arts district, the Parking Authority doubled the meter rate and fines. Testimony to City Council permitting the rate increase indicated it was favored by the merchants. At that time I documented to the Council that in fact the merchants were not informed, much less in favor. The vote was 5 to 2, with Hershman and Hoover dissenting
* I used the above copy on my posting of October 3, 2007. In the past several weeks the Parking Authority finally removed the meters in the 900 block of Chew St, 50 years beyond their legitimate need.

UPDATE: The post above is reprinted from September 2009. I have published dozens of posts on the Parking Authority. In 2005, I conducted two press conferences on their abuses; One conference was at 10th and Chew Streets, and concerned the oversized meter zone. The second conference, directly in front of their office, concerned the fabricated merchant survey that they  presented to City Council. Old tricks die hard. Forward ahead to 2015, and the Parking Authority will once again penalize both existing merchants and residents.  The new plan is to double the meter parking rate from $1 an hour, to $2, and extend the metering time to 10:00pm.  They claim that the merchants are in favor of this plan. Although I will not conduct my own survey, as I did 2005,  their survey defies logic.  Why would any of the few surviving merchants want their customers submitted to a destination city parking rates in Allentown? Despite the hype,  Allentown is not Miami Beach or N.Y.C.. In reality, just as the taxpayers are subsidizing the arena zone,  now the merchants and residents will be subsidizing the arena plan through punitive parking rates.

UPDATE Memorial Day Weekend 2015: I did end up asking several merchants, and no, they were not surveyed. Eight years from the original date of this post, and the Authority is still up to the same shenanigans.   Reilly's City Center tenants, merchants and customers will get a free pass for the Authority's inconvenient parking lots. Other existing tenants in the NIZ, such as the south side of the 900 block of Walnut Street, will not be eligible for residential parking permits.  Pawlowski's Parking Authority Board Member yes-woman, Candida Afif, is now going to City Council. If you have a problem with any of this, remember, you must now put money in the meter at night, before  complaining to City Council.

19 comments:

Anonymous said...

I'm curious how the Park @ Shop type deal with the merchants in buildings owned by Reilly will actually work. Is this just a benefit at SOME merchants?

Does each merchant cut a separate check to the Parking Authority every month? Does Center City Investment submit one check for all the stamps by their merchants?

Who monitors all of this to ensure the payments don't just quietly come from the construction loan subsidies?

Fred Windish

michael molovinsky said...

fred@7:28, the lots are not convenient enough that anyone would want to use one just for lunch. can you imagine needing 8 quarters for just an hour in allentown? fortunately, thus far the enforcement seems erratic. my guess is that an evening meter crew will only be deployed event nights, of which there really isn't that many. but, what a hoot that residents have to plug the meter to complain to city council about the meters, that some council members approved as parking authority board members, then again as council members. life here in pawlowski's allentown.

Anonymous said...

You do realize that the lots are still $1 an hour....the rate change to $2 an hour is only for street meters

michael molovinsky said...

apologist @11:13, the time of spending a day on hamilton street shopping have been over for 40 years. the few people who come for a ball of yarn, or a bottle of vitamins, want the convenience of a meter, not a lot, three blocks away. the parking authority and city cited research and best practices for successful destination cities, not a place like allentown, trying to get on it's feet. shame on the city, parking authority and city council for this ill advised money grab.

Anonymous said...

The problem is that unlike New York, people can drive 10 minutes in any direction and be someplace outside of Allentown, where plentiful and FREE parking abounds.

Downtown's been virtually dead for decades, and the fact that City Hall still doesn't understand the parking issue is frightening.

As an aside, did anyone on council object to the latest rate hike? I'd like to think at least one or two of them get it.

Anonymous said...

F.Y.I. I discovered Councilman Daryl Hendricks is Treasurer of The A.P.A. and both Sara Hailstone and Mary Ellen Koval serve on the Board.These folks are employed by The City and can be easily contacted about complaints or concerns

Anonymous said...

I really feel the parking authority practices a form of classism. They constantly ticket the poorest neighborhoods and build new decks around center city. I live around second and tilghman and they don't provide any off street parking with all of the money they've made.

Anonymous said...

I know more than a few people who have decided to take the bus downtown...for work. The bus depot at 7th and Linden is closer for them than the remote parking lot assigned to them in Reileyville.

Julian Kern said...

Jeanette Eichenwald was the only council member to vote no for the parking changes.

michael molovinsky said...

once upon a time, even when the "town" was still busy, the meters were handled by two meter maids who worked for the police department, and patrolled with golf carts. now the Parking Authority is a hugh bureaucracy, which must be fed with $2 an hour parking meters.

Rich Fegley said...

As reported to date...guests at the Allentown Brew Works have received parking tickets as late as 9:30pm. Someone is obviously checking meters late at night now. There are no "Arena Nights" at this time of year. There are a few concerts scheduled over the next few months.

As far as I know, downtown merchants were not asked about parking meter increases, ever. I asked about the so-called "survey" at City Council when the vote was taken.

I cut right to it and said that everyone was lying.

I said the Miriam Huertes lied about the surveys.
I said Tony Ianelli lied about the surveys.
I said Sarah Hailstone lied about the surveys.
I said Tamara Dolan lied about the surveys.

I told City Council that the Mayor had all of these people lying about the parking meter surveys and studies.

Tamara Dolan admitted that she was not experienced in this aspect of parking and relied on experts to tell her what to do. ??? Huh?

I asked Jeff Glazier for the "state of the art" report that was used to determine that the rates needed to go up and the time needed to be extended. He lowered his glasses to the tip of his nose and checked his fingernails.

NOTHING. Silence and blank stares. Absolutely nothing from anyone. I stated that their silence indicated that there was no survey and there was no state-of-the-art study available.

They all lied and no one said a thing. I simply sat down.

The press did not report this detail.

When a tree falls in Allentown City Council chambers, no one ever hears it fall.

michael molovinsky said...

rich@7:34, the same thing happen in 2005, with a bogus survey presented by the authority. i responded by conducting a genuine survey, which council ignored. i'm afraid that these tickets will have consequences for your business, and other businesses on the street. i will suggest a protest on this blog next week (not a boycott) and see how much interest it can attract, from both businesses and residents.

Mike Baker said...

Since the rates and times went up, a police car has been parked in Farr Lot or a bike policeman has been stationed by the arena, both on 8th Street.

Anonymous said...

Rich

Just so you know, there have been at least two occasions thus far where my friends and I have chosen to have dinner somewhere outside downtown when we normally would have gone to the Brewworks. The reason was the new parking meter hours.

Maybe we're the exception, but I tend to think there are others like us. Hopefully (for you) we are.

I've seen the arena summer schedule (very light) and just can't justify allowing myself to be robbed by the Parking Authority. Not worth the ticket if I'm enjoying myself and lose track of time. Sorry.

Anonymous said...

2:20

If you're correct about Hailstone, Koval and Hendeicks serving on the Parking Authority, I don't need to address my complaints to them - they are part of the problem.

We're stuck with Hailstone and I don't think Hendricks is up for re-election yet, but I think Koval is.

I don't know that she has an opponent, but if so I would suggest we keep this in mind when we go to the polls in November.

For things to change, we need to start holding City Hall accountable.

Anonymous said...

Too bad we no longer have legitimate local news reporting from our traditional major sources. The type of lying and deceit we see here likely runs throughout the entire NIZ endeavor. Those construction contracts must be something to behold.

But, who cares? This is government at every level these days. We have been conditioned to accept this.

Fred Windish



michael molovinsky said...

fred@7:03, the morning call rather than scrutinize the NIZ has been promoting it in a wholesale fashion, as if they're a private public relations firm. i believe that sometime in the future allentown's NIZ will be a case study in government subsidy gone wild

Anonymous said...

Ms. Koval is running for re-election in November.If Mr. Ramos was elected to The City's Controllers office the Mayor's total contol of finances would be greatly reduced.The tax-payers in Allentown have a choice come November

monkey momma said...

The problem here is that the extra money captured by the new parking meter rates and times goes straight TO THE CITY. So, the City itself is profiting from this money grab. And yet, I am not aware of any effort on the City's part to explain how this extra money is going to be spent. This is a terrible hardship on businesses within the NIZ.