Magazine

SF and NYC Push Parking Citations to Close Budget Gap

According to a published report, San Francisco parking supervisors have been told to write an additional 40,000 tickets in the next 45 days to raise revenue during a budget shortfall. But parking officials deny that any quotas have been set.
Meanwhile in New York, a battle of numbers emerged after Patrick Lynch, president of the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association, accused the department of forcing illegal "quotas" on his union's 22,927 patrol officers. The officers, Lynch said, are being forced to write more parking tickets, traffic infractions and summonses for violations to raise revenues and help close the city's expansive budget gap.
"There's no quotas," said S.F. Department of Parking and Traffic Director Gerald Normal. "They're obviously illegal. There's no question about that. And there is no direct order for anyone in the enforcement division to write more tickets in order to meet some sort of a quota."
Parking citations in S.F. are also going up $10. Starting in June, a parking ticket will cost you $35 or $40, depending on where you get the citation. Last year, parking tickets added $67 million to the city's general fund. This year, the revenue is down 8 percent so far.
"We're saying it's a quota," said Lynch in N.Y. "And if our members don't meet the quotas, they get harassed by management, they find their assignments changed, their hours changed, and that of course turns their life at home upside down." Lynch said the department's statistics back up his assertion that quotas, which are illegal and a practice the police brass has long denied goes on, are indeed in place.
Despite having 1,009 fewer police officers this year than in 2002 (22,927 compared to 23,936) parking tickets, moving violations and "C-summonses," tickets issued for minor offenses, are up by 75,700 or 6.7 percent, according to the numbers the PBA used.
According to the numbers, police officers issued 1.2 million tickets between Jan. 1 and April 21 this year, compared to 1.12 million for the same period last year. More recent statistics, through May 11, show that overall summonses are up 5.7 percent.
Included in that increase is a 4 percent hike in parking tickets written by police this year. With the cost of parking tickets increasing from $55 last year to $85 or $105, it would mean that the NYPD (with 912,414 parking tickets) has written from $77.6 million to $95.8 million in tickets, compared to $48.3 million in tickets (877,443 tickets) through the same time last year.
"The NYPD has become a summons machine, generating millions of dollars to close the city's budget gap while eroding the relationship between the police and the communities they serve," Lynch said.

Article Abstract from June, 2003




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