Nov 8, 2010

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.


Anonymous said...

MM -

My favorite is when the Parking Authority pounces on homeowners whose vehicle inspections are out of date.

It happened to my neighbor one year while she was dealing with taking care of her young child and seriously ill husband, who was in the hospital. The Authority was ready as soon as the calendar turned to the 1st of the month, and ticketed her that day.

It had nothing to do with parking issues or street cleaning. It certainly didn't improve my or my neighbors' quality of life.

For some reason, my neighbors decided to move a little while after that (once the husband had recovered). It's a shame because they were good neighbors, and there aren't enough of those in the city.

gary ledebur said...

The Parking Police in our cities have become so powerful that the producers of Law and Order, Law and Order SVU and Law and Order LA, et al. are currently filming a new series, Law and Order, Parking Police!

michael molovinsky said...

mark, whom this post is about, is a scholar and gentleman, living in the belly of the beast. rather than giving him tickets, allentown should put money on his windshield to thank him for his contribution to the neighborhood.

monkey momma said...

I am sure "Mark" is a fine citizen, and I don't doubt the contribution he makes to Allentown.

However, I still say the parking signs are easy to read and easy to follow. How is the city to determine which cars belong to fine citizens and which ones don't?? They either enforce the law or they don't.

Mark needs to park according to the letter of the law or pay the fines. There's nothing sinister about it. Hey, I'm probably labeled a repeat offender, too, since I got a sweep ticket this past summer in front of the Baum. (The sign was clear, though - turns out I didn't read it. DUH! My bad.)

Part of living in a city is following the laws, whether you like them or not. I feel for the guy, but what is the solution? Parking anarchy??

michael molovinsky said...

monkey mama, i have not included other letters from mark, and photographs, which pretty much document that he was targeted. although they knew he intentionally didn't pay the fine to cause a court hearing, they booted his car anyway. he saw the officer checking at the car and asked if there was a problem, the officer said "no". after mark left, the parking officer returned and booted the car. i decided not to use all of mark's letters and photographs to make the post more universal about the parking authority, rather than mark's specific ordeal.

Anonymous said...


Just move out of Allentown, pain and simple. Let the city implode on itself (it's really doing remarkably well on that end!) The great socialist city of Allentown will eventually run out of state "money" to fund eating places in war zones while punishing other business owners who fight for air.

Allentown is a lost cause. MM moved out, didn't he?

One really big thing to consider is PPL. They are an attractive takeover target. Do you honestly think that an out of state buyer would ever keep offices in Allentown? LOL! Without PPL, Allentown will finally complete its swirling in the bowl and flush...overflowing into parks..LOL!

Katie Bee said...

If you choose to move out of Allentown to avoid this issue, don't pick DC or Philly - in the same week, I got a $500 dollar parking ticket and my brother got a $125 one.

It takes 6 months to hear back from contesting a ticket, which puts you at risk for booting and additional tickets in the meantime. I couldn't get on a payment plan since I don't pay taxes to DC. There went my rent.

I never want to own a car again.

michael molovinsky said...

anon 9:09, although it's true i do not currently live in the city proper, i didn't move because of any conclusion about allentown. my next residence may well be in the city.

katie bee, if mark lived further west, east or south, in the city, where there is no ticketed street cleaning, he would not have received the ticket, nor subsequently the orange boot. the tickets are strictly for revenue, it has nothing to do with quality of life issues. there are always cars double parked on 16th street, between allen and tilghman. there are always cars double parked downtown, but no tickets issued.

Chris Casey said...

Guys, if you paid any attention to the new City Budget, you know it is all about revenue. I park in the City garage and pay my dollar (or Two) whenever I am downtown. It just isn't worth the hassle. The city gets around $10/wk from me, for all my County and Courthouse visits.
How about the new EIT tax on all employees in the city? They say it's only $3 bucks a week, but damn, it's like bleeding someone a couple quarts at a time. Eventually the patient bleeds to death.

Patrick McHenry said...

Chris Casey said:

"They say it's only $3 bucks a week, but damn, it's like bleeding someone a couple quarts at a time. Eventually the patient bleeds to death."


Chris -


And it's always just a few bucks a week. And then they'll wonder why businesses choose to locate somewhere other than Allentown.

Katie Bee said...


I don't understand how your comment relates to mine...

michael molovinsky said...

katie bee, you're correct, my comment didn't have to be directed toward you. my point was that mark need not move from the city, just to another section of the city which does not receive the same punishment from the parking authority.

actually my answer would have been better directed at monkey momma. the parking authority doesn't prevent parking anarchy; double parking is rampant, sometimes two cars on both sides of the street, and you must weave between them. the authority ignores that, but tickets some poor snook for street cleaning, they're (authority) simply a money machine.

Patrick McHenry said...

Michael -

I understand Monkey Momma's point (leaving Mark out of it) about the Authority's inability to tell who is a good citizen or not and the need to evenly enforce the law.

However, I don't think that's really the issue.

The larger point is that the Authority - with the blessing of City Hall - is gouging city residents and visitors with outrageous fees. That is where the problem lies for most, and that is what is creating a bigger problem.

Perhaps Monkey Momma should look at it another way. How many visitors does the Authority drive away from downtown Allentown?

If you're from the suburbs and decide to try a downtown restaurant for lunch, hopefully you'll like it. But enjoy yourself for a bit too long, and you'll find a hefty parking ticket on your windshield. Granted, the ticket isn't at DC levels (per Katie Bee's post), but it's still enough to leave a bad taste in someone's mouth.

How do you think that will affect someone's decision next time they're going out for lunch? This isn't DC where you're stuck eating here. Five minutes from downtown and you're out of the city - and out of range of the parking authority.

That's the bigger problem that our short-sited, revenue-craving city leaders don't realize or won't admit to.

Capri said...

I second Patrick McHenry's post. I think if you are going to have a parking authority and parking regulations, they should be enforced evenly. No bonus points for citizenship. That said, I think the need for a parking authority is questionable in a city the size of Allentown, and additionally I think the Allentown Parking Authority, in particular, does not do anything to solve actual parking problems (the above-mentioned double-parking is a big one), and does more overall harm to the City than it does good.

Keep Your Head Down said...

"double parking is rampant, sometimes two cars on both sides of the street, and you must weave between them. the authority ignores that"

Could this be because ticketing a double-parked car means a greater possibility of meeting the driver or their "friends" - and getting capped by a drug dealer?

Anonymous said...

Those of you who do not live in the city seem to find it easy to be sanctimonious. I would suggest living in Allentown for a while to gain an appreciation for the numerous multiple standards that exist on part of the PA. Then you all would sing a different tune.

petelewnes said...

I live on 7th and get tickets repeatedly...I'm bad at the meter thing as well as street last was for 35 bucks outside of symphony hall. I pay them which I realized long ago living in Jersey City and watching hundreds of dollars disappear in extra fine was the best thing to do. The repeat offender deal is pretty harsh at times - and for the record...i wish 7th got millions to make it pretty...street lights aside of course :)

michael molovinsky said...

pete, actually 7th street has gotten millions; since 1994 the bricks have been reconfigured twice and it's actually the second set of new street lights. we certainly are getting much more bang for the buck under your watch, wish you came earlier

Craig Friebolin said...

This response may seem cryptic, but after a year of dealing with the APA I've grown weary of spelling it all out.

@Monkey Momma - Should someone get run over by a bus would your only concern be that they didn't look out for traffic?

@The APA - The executive director makes $102,000.00 a year and her assistant makes $96,000.00. For that kind of money I expect them to do a better job.

@The APA Board - Learn to take some criticism like reasonable adults.

@City Council - Stop ignoring the numerous citizens who look to you for redress on these issues.

@The Mornig Call & WFMZ - Grow a set!

Mark said...

To add insult to injury, the poorly or untrained agent of the APA gouged the paint on my car when installing this so called "boot" device on my vehicle.
The response from the head of the APA was "call your insurance company".
This is an evil agency, without public input or controls intent on increasing profitability at the expense of neighborhoods and the entire city.

Anonymous said...

When Allentown's street sweepers ride through the center city roads, a residue of leaves, bottles, and general trash is usually left in the street,in the storm drains and against the curb in its wake.
This makes my block look as if it is NEVER cleaned by the city.
If issuing citations is acceptable for citizens impeding street cleaners, then they should damn well clean the streets!

Anonymous said...

Anon 10:03,

Thank you for having the guts to say what needs to be said.

My boss used to give me grief for being a little hard on the City.

Then, one night around 9:30 pm, we stopped at Gas Station on 12th and Hamilton my boss gets out of the car to hit the ATM machine.

My boss came back freaking out.

I told him, "Ha! They haven't even lowered the bulletproof glass yet for the night."

"With all due respect," I said to the man who pays my salary, "You leave the city at some point every night."

"I don't."

Now, if I grumble - he never says a word.

Funny how that worked out.