Ticket blitz: More parking violations written up so far this year than in all of 2013

(Photo: Dan Barton)

(Photo: Dan Barton)

Citywide, police and parking enforcement staff are on pace to double the number of violations handed out last year for expired meters and other non-moving violations. Meanwhile the apparent ticket blitz has some in one neighborhood complaining of overzealous enforcement.

“This year it’s been off the charts,” said Karen Clark-Adin, owner of the Bop to Tottom gift shop on Wall Street. “I have customers apologizing that they haven’t been in in a while, but they say the parking enforcement is just so aggressive.”

Parking is a perennial issue in the Uptown Kingston business district where visitors to the County Office Building and the county courthouse, as well as workers and clients at dozens of small professional services offices, swell the neighborhood’s daytime population and make prime parking spaces a rare commodity at times. Another constant — complaints about parking meter enforcement. But those complaints have increased noticeably since the city hired a new enforcement officer dedicated to Uptown. Parkers complain of tickets written at 9:01 a.m., one minute after the meter rules go into effect, or enforcement staff staking out meters with a few minutes left on them so they can write a citation. Clark-Adin said she was written up while unloading merchandise into her shop from a car with the blinkers on. Carol Galione, who’s worked Uptown for nearly two decades, said she’s received about 10 tickets so far this year despite her New Year’s resolution to be more vigilant about feeding the meters.

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“It just feels excessive and punitive,” said Galione. “I know the city gets a lot of revenue out of it, but I would love for them to find a more forward-thinking way of getting that revenue.”

Numbers provided by City Comptroller John Tuey bear out anecdotal evidence of stepped up enforcement. In all of 2013, parking enforcement officers and city cops (who do not enforce parking-meter regulations but are empowered to issue tickets) wrote 10,330 parking tickets of all types, bringing in $229,844 in fines. So far this year, 10,840 parking tickets have been issued and $190,995 collected.

‘Doing their job’

Alderman Brian Seche (D-Ward 2) represents the business district on the Common Council. Seche said that he believes the stepped-up enforcement stems from a move last year to dedicate a parking enforcement officer to patrolling the neighborhood. The shift, Seche said, means that enforcement officers spend less time traveling between the Downtown, Midtown and Uptown metered areas and more time writing tickets.

“They’re out there doing their job,” said Seche. “I don’t know what else can be said about it.”

Galione, and a couple of hundred like-minded supporters, do have something to say about it. Earlier this month, she placed petitions in a number of Uptown businesses seeking redress on the parking issue. The petitions claim that Uptown residents and business owners feel “targeted” by the parking enforcement and that the ticket blitz is hurting the neighborhood economy.

“Merchants are concerned that over the fact that customers will stop shopping in Uptown; instead flocking to shopping centers that provide free parking,” the petition reads.

The petition goes on to ask the city to seek alternative means to replace the revenue and calls for a town meeting to discuss the issue. Galione said that she had received 250 signatures from sheets from one Wall Street business alone — Hudson Coffee Traders — and expects many more from other businesses in the district.

There are 21 comments

  1. citizen K

    There is an underlying civic purpose to parking meters: to make parking space available to people actively engaged in short term transactions, thus allowing more transactions to take place. Fines are put in place to enforce that intent. KIngston would be the speed trap for parking meter plays: warning signs ought to be posted: IF your meter runs out you WILL be ticketed. Count on it.
    The notion that it is to be gamed by the city to entrap as many “violators” as is possible is a rather sick comedy, and Inspector Javert : “It’s the law” an it was said so very well by Charles Laughton…”
    It utterly lacks kindness, another kind of 30 pieces of silver transaction, where money trumps simple, human exchange… I cannot imagine any judge holding up tickets at 9:01… opportunistic thievery.
    This is NOT a practice our mayor should lend his name to… that’s too reminiscent of an Aesop tail where the one to be wary of is the man whose breath blows but hot and cold.
    The utterly brilliant part of the whole thing is the strong support by Seche, Alderman, Ward 2 (the Uptown Business District)… who voted him in?

    1. amanda

      I def believe in parking meters. I work on Broadway at dominos. I am a driver and I am in and out of the store very quickly. We do not have a parking lot for our store. I have gotten tickets with my car topper on my car. I don’t think that it is fair that I have to pay for parking that I am only there for a minute or 2. Then someone else gets to park for free using the the meter I payed for.

  2. Johnny goodcakes

    Well, as much as I hate getting tickets there is a very simple solution to this: Put money in the meters. Carry some change in your car so if you have to step into a store for a quick snack, you will have some change. A nickel for 8 minutes gives you time to get some coffee. As to the summons written at 9:01: When do you suggest the enforcement starts? 9:02? 9:03? 9:04? 9:30?

    1. citizen K

      An unfortunate, unsympathetic and unwelcoming comment from what I would hope would not be a typical KIngston citizen: The atypically stringent enforcement of meter use is insensitive to the lives of real people who are often in unfamiliar places… I suppose after a while just about every visitor might know of the fierce enforcement… “There, you silly shopper, take note! That little mistake will cost you $.” Then to follow up, we might see tickets for doing 31 in a 30 mph zone, after driving away from a 9:01 am ticket.
      If a visitor were to get a ticket (here our traffic enforcers also do extra credit for inspection and registration and perhaps they ought to check tread ware and fractured tail lights…), hey, nobody told you you had to shop here! You don’t get to scam Kingston and try to get extra parking time you didn’t pay for! Take that, go and sin no more!

  3. Janice Bennett

    U think that it’s the truths that most people who live in and around Kingston and also visitors will not go uptown and do business because there is never any place to park. This is also true down on the strand. People who visit can never find a place to park. we advertise tourism but if they get rickets they won’t come back

  4. Kingstonian

    What really needs to happen is this. Enforce the parking meters but give business owners a sticker that identifies them and allows them to park for a half hour or so without receiving a ticket. We own a business uptown on a street where there is limited parking and no alternate side parking available. When we are unloading product – we should not be fined. We routinely park in the municipal lots for the day but have received three tickets while unloading product this past month that the meter person and his superiors says is “just too bad”.

    Way to keep business in town, slick.

  5. Carol Galione

    With due respect to the above comments, I think you’re missing the point. Why have parking codes (and strictly enforce them) if it discourages people from shopping and visiting uptown? People spending their money and adding to the vibrancy of a city is what it’s about right? We want this. No one expects the meters to go away, we would just like to look at options to ease the onslaught of violations, we just want regulations that are easier to abide by. Other municipalities have done this- I suggest we talk to them to see what they’ve done and how it’s working. Skewing the meter times of enforcement, parking permits and meter time grace periods are just a few solutions that I’ve read about. Also, I don’t understand how the current regulations “free up” parking for short term parkers. The people I work with park at the same meter all day, they just go out and feed it, it’s inconvenient and they often miss by a minute or so and get ticketed but it’s preferable to parking in a lot you slip and slide down to in the winter or have to walk alone to after dark.

  6. Rainier Parade

    We are forever trying to figure out exactly what Gallo is up to. He says he wants to improve the parking situation uptown, at least he campaigned on this issue. But his solution is to crack down like an autocrat. All this is doing is driving business away. No one wants to go downtown if they have to worry about getting a ticket five minutes after the meter expires. But driving away business has been, and will continue to be, Gallo’s legacy. Yet another example of his terrible leadership.

  7. citizen K

    Gallo is not immune to business community: if the business community felt strong about it, that policy could be changed in an instant.
    These letters: this is NOT a forum for civic action.
    City Hall, KUBS, Common Council…. that’s where the work gets done, or not.
    Be certain that the Common Council could act, Seche, the alderman from uptown! and the business community , KUBA, could all act on the matter… all it takes is to take a walk down to City Hall and if they have demands, if business is really being driven away, they can act. Gallo puts in a huge number of hours…
    he can always be reached.
    These issues really seem to be unnecessary, but they are not the big ones, the real ones: trails, grants, SUNY, the hospital, waterfront, Parks and Police and and Public Works… those jobs are getting done.
    It is annoying, the parking stuff, but its small and there are simple means to remedy the problem if we the people move away from our computer screens and walk/drive/take the bus to City Hall: that’s how you will know when we’re serious.
    But overall, the city is doing very very well under Gallo. And a lot of people really really like the man.

  8. Susan

    New parking areas need to be created for both uptown and downtown. Diagonal parking on one side of the street uptown might be the answer on Wall Street. What about the parking lots on Crown Street? Have they been repaved? I agree with Citizen K, but don’t just take your problems to the mayor, think through some possible solutions too.

    1. gberke

      Yes… solutions are wanted… and the role of the public servant (common council, alderman, the alderman-at-large, the mayor) is to enable and support public discussion… this looks a little bit like being outside and relegated to scratching comments in the dust as opposed to the issue being hosted on the City of Kingston web site…
      A simple measure is simple to grab the URL of this discussion, create a Facebook group called “Uptown Parking”, post the URL right there… the discussion and can continue and be augmented by files, facebook posts, and whatever.
      This is something the city and do easily, or an existing organization (like KIngston Citizens.org) …
      Personally, I’d like to see a Shuttle Bus running the entire Corridor rather than pull traffic into the city… the structure Mr. Will suggests (I don’t know where that rather nice piece of work was drawn from… Mr. Will’s work? ) but it does surround the lovely Kirkland building… and there is vacant property, quite below grade level at the entrance to Kingston Plaza…
      Once a car is parked, that car is not going to move… Parking often serves just that area and does not encourage pedestrian traffic of any distance from the structure: a shuttle bus doers.
      Create, or seach on Facebook for something like Kingston uptown Parking… link this dialog there, and continue the discussion and we and others can have a record, a history of what goes on from time to time…
      Again, I think this is best served by a single organization… I can do that with Kingston Corridor, but then that too has to grow and be totally available, whereas the City of Kingston, hosting Facebook discussions (they do need to be administered if not watched by the departments responsible) could have links to stuff like The Washington Ave Sinkhole, AVR Hudson Development, BEAT, Green Line progress, KIngston Uptown Parking, Comprehensive Plan, Complete Streets… As it is we become a bit of a tower of Babel, each forum, page, blog, newspaper article creating another “language” where we none of us can all speak, none of us can all be heard…
      Anyway, see if that works… we can certainly create such discussion groups and all we need from there is a common place to link from… and then or course, make sure everybody knows that is the place to start… when a question comers up, see if there isn’t a discussion underway or start one… Kingston Citizens? or maybe KIngston Citizens Too?

      (Search for shuttle bus of Facebook, see if there is something there)

  9. Rainier Parade

    A person’s likability has almost nothing to do with whether he or she is an effective leader. Plenty of likable people are terrible managers. And, judging from the mayor’s likability, I’d say he fails miserably on that one as well. How many days has it been since the Freeman has run a story about Gallo screaming at someone? Or overstepping his constitutional authority? Or picking a fight with an alderman over what the mayor perceives to be “his turf”? Or in an argument with our very competent county exec? This list goes on and on. And it makes for terrible PR for the City of Kingston.

    But this is all subjective stuff. What about the parking garage the mayor promised during his campaign? It was one of the centerpieces of his platform. Then, he wins election, and we hear absolutely nothing more about it. And most people would be willing to overlook this kind of political cynicism. But when you then reverse your campaign promise by making parking uptown that much worse, now you are opening yourself up to overdue and entirely justified criticism. The mayor has not fulfilled his campaign promise, shows no intention of doing so, and then exacerbates an already bad situation by instilling a culture of fear around uptown parking.

    People have had enough of this. Hopefully, someone will challenge Gallo and beat him on election day. He is one of the biggest problems the city has at the moment.

    1. watchbird

      The basic reason you dislike Gallo is, and it’s not an oxymoron, is that you dislike him. And likeability has a huge effect on leadership… all that stuff is just science. We get studied and this is found out about human behavior. If we are inclined to follow that literature or study ourselves, we can know that about ourselves as well and understand the validity of those findings.
      Gallo’s “behavior” is well in the past (though he can be spirited if not volatile) and it was a Freeman issue, good for circulations. The rules of charters (they are not constitutional nor is there a “supreme court” that sits) are frequently broken and or abused… The parking garage, and the promises: those are weighty matters and discussing them here but taking the issue no further, that’s just not effective…
      If you are prepared to oppose Gallo because you don’t like him and he has not solved the parking problem uptown, then, that’s all she wrote.
      If you are prepared to write to your alderman, show up at city hall, attend a KUBA meeting, get an appointment with the mayor, form an alliance with like minded people, put forward a few plans and get agreement with some of your fellow citizens… win or lose, that would be a serious contribution
      Pick some public forum… kingstoncitizens.org, kingston past present future, KUBA…

  10. Rainier Parade

    Sorry, but the idea that people shouldn’t complain about something unless they the time and the resources to do something about it is unbelievably silly. And if the realities of the First Amendment give you the vapors, there are plenty of authoritarian countries for you to move to. As for liking Gallo, I have never actually met the man. In fact, to my knowledge, I have never even been in the same room with him. It’s nothing personal. I just think his tenure has been, and will continue to be, destructive to the city. And I think a simple Google search of articles related to his lousy governance will confirm this assertion. We will all be better off once we’ve seen the back of him.

      1. watchbird

        Good call, Jan. You’ve done your homework, I’m sure. Nobody has laid a glove on Gallo of any substance vis a vis the job he ran for and won. And I hope age will temper his spirits a bit… Mr. Gallo has an opportunity to deal from strength: the test of talent is not whether it agrees with you perfectly, but if that talent wants to serve the city.
        Ole ole ocean free…

  11. JR

    I will think twice about shopping on Wall St. Or N.Front. St. Fm now on. The cops are watching for the slightest slip up. I am a Saugerties resident and we cherish our business and customers so after 2 tickets within a week for a 5 min stop I I won’t bother to shop in Kingston.

    1. citizen K

      KIngston merely checks the meters with great frequency: if you’re not there when the flag goes up, you are very very likely to get a ticket.
      Imagine a system that automatically ticketed a space if the meter expired and there was a car there…
      One does have to wonder what the economics of such frequent policing costs…. and who it costs.
      And the word ought to be out by now… you WILL be ticketed if you are parked at an expired meter… there is NO grace time.
      Yes, that does seem very inhospitable… that policy it set by Mayor Gallo who certainly carefully weighs all the considerations and comes out that this quick service of meters is best for his city.

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