Apr 7, 2015

Parking Authority Preys On Poor

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.


Anonymous said...

Parking is free in the suburban malls. Also, once customers get inside, they don't get rained on, or freeze to death walking around inside shopping.

But then Allentown is forgetting the reasons the Downtown Shopping District went out of business in the first place.

Trendy, expensive restaurants are not a good reason to also pay to park along the streets. In fact, if the city had intelligent leadership in city hall, meter parking would be eliminated, or drastically curtailed in an effort to encourage people go visit the new restraunts downtown.

Anonymous said...

Wow! Even NYC is mostly less...
The Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island $1.00
Manhattan above 110th Street $1.00
Manhattan from 96th to 110th Street $1.50

michael molovinsky said...

@5:08, couldn't agree more. who is going to pay $3 to park for Billy's breakfast Saturday morning, or $2 to look for yarn? the proposal should outrage the merchants. the arena is open only several nights a month, and virtually no time during the day. hamilton street should not serve the arena's interests over everything else. once again, instead of community benefit, it's a community disservice.

monkey momma said...

This is harming the existing businesses - the ones that were there before the arena. To say that business owners are in favor of this is obviously an outright lie. Why would even the new restaurants be in favor of this? A disservice, indeed. Customers will, without a doubt, re-think their plans to visit downtown Allentown in light of this.

Why would rates need to double during the entire day? Arena events aren't every day, and they only occur (primarily) at night. It's ridiculous to claim the arena traffic itself is the catalyst for this. Obviously, this is a money grab, and I personally feel it is a waste of time to fight it. It's a done deal. Like everything else.

Anonymous said...

And let's not forget the weekly fleecing in the form of street cleaning, which in many areas isn't really needed or certainly doesn't warrant having people move their cars.

Anonymous said...


Could this be part of the administration's plan to improve the downtown through gentrification?

Scott Armstrong

Anonymous said...

And let the stampede of Allentown visitors and new residents begin.... SMH

I don't believe gentrification equals ghost town. Plus, again, the, sadly,(unwanted) transient families moving here from NYC, NJ, and Philly still find it safer, cleaner, and less expensive. You can raise parking meters to $2.00 and rent here to 1200.00 and still get a 2-3 bedroom apartment or house where as in a metropolitan area, it's a studio. Nope, no gentrification here. It's just a way to pay bills quick, fast, and in a hurry because they are almost due and the massive crowd just never seemed to come (nor the jobs). I say give it 3 - 5 years to see the actual outcome of the NIZ. I am hoping for the best.

Alfonso Todd

Dreaming of Justice said...

Meters along K street NW, M Street NW, Independence Avenue, and Capitol Street NW in Washington DC are rated at $.25/7 minutes...so are we to believe that similar opportunities and shopping, tourist attractions and upscale housing exist in Allentown?

ironpigpen said...

Mr. Molovinsky,

State-planned economy not working out quite so well in Pawlowski Palace of Sport Land?


Did you know that the Lehigh Valley Phantoms will be wearing special jerseys to honor the Allentown Police Department this coming Wednesday night? As is always the case with these 'special' jerseys, they will be sold off by auction by the Phantoms. The proceeds of the auction of the special police jerseys, however, will NOT be going to pay off the rapidly escalating police overtime bill.

Forward to progress.


Rolf Oeler

Anonymous said...

Like all downtown areas parking in Allentown has always been limited.In 2015 the issue has become impossible with the Renaissance The Mayor has created.Enlightened souls were aware parking would become more of a problem but They were called extremists and nit-pickers.Increasing the parking fees seems to be the only solution. the Mayor can offer.The idea that requirering people to feed the meters to creat turn-over worked in the 50's and still seems to be the solution in 2015

michael molovinsky said...

comment 10:12 is from a know cyberstalker with multiple motives, none of which is truth. besides on the few arena event days parking is plentiful and shoppers scarce. this meter increase will hurt the new eating establishments, and absolutely punish normal daytime commerce. senator pawlowski apparently doesn't mind us paying more for parking, more for arena police protection, or mr. reilly paying less in property taxes.

Anonymous said...

Hey Mike, I sure hope Pat Toomey reads your blog. If not, send him a link. Mayor Ed says he's looking to get his job.

Ted Yost

Julian Kern said...

I think it is wrong to extend the hours of enforcement for the parking meters for all parking meter areas. Why should residents who live in areas not affected by the PPL center have to pay more money just to park where they live? Why should residents have to pay to park if they attend a public city meeting after hours? This is not fair to the residents. According to the center city initiative Poverty rates within the area range from a low of 32% to a high of 55%. The city wide poverty rate is 26%. Extending the hours will only hurt residents already in poverty or close to poverty. Increasing the meter rate from $1 to $2 per hour in the central business district: The central business district is mostly the “downtown” area but extends as far west as Jefferson St and as far east as American Pky. It goes north to Turner St in some areas and goes south to W. Union and Martin Luther King Jr Drive in some areas. My concern again is residents who are in poverty or close to poverty. How is this fair to them? These residents are already not receiving much of a benefit from the arena and office buildings that were built and rental rates have gone up in the NIZ area. Now the parking authority wants to put more of a burden on these residents. Making Walnut Street from 9th to 10th Street eligible for a Residential Parking Permit Zone designation: I agree with making that area a Residential Parking Permit Zone but what about the rest of the residential areas that will be affected by these changes?

Anonymous said...

Life was easier in downtown Allentown when Park-n-Shop owned the parking lots, not the Allentown Parking Authority.

michael molovinsky said...

ted@8:46, i've been told by most of our representatives, at every level, that they read this blog. however, i do not know toomey, nor have i ever spoken to him.

@1:16, at that time the meters were enforced by two meter maids in golf carts, instead of the large bureaucracy we have today.