I understand the City Council is considering converting the priority parking fee into a tax and raising it by one third to gather more revenue for our deficit. I can’t imagine the City Council would consider such a tax if they were aware the city no longer tickets vehicles parking illegally in preferential zones.
In the two blocks between my residence and Palisades Park I count the city’s lost parking ticket revenue every day when I walk to the park for the sunset. The residential parking signs are still up, but since ticketing stopped months ago, compliance has dropped to around 60 percent. On average, around a dozen cars are illegally parked each evening. At $64 a ticket, that amounts to $768 the city loses each day. These are just the short sides of two blocks — about a thousand feet or so with space for 40 vehicles at most.
If the other two residential parking streets similar to mine are also priority zones no longer being ticketed, then the total annual loss in revenue from just those three short streets would theoretically amount to $840,960, and this doesn’t count lost revenue from the parking meters on Ocean Avenue.
Even residents realize our priority parking zone is no longer enforced and don’t bother with purchasing a priority permit, as I see several of the same cars parked without a permit every evening.
So why stick the residents, many of whom are seniors living on declining incomes, with yet another regressive tax, when there are significant sums of revenue owed to the city going uncollected? When I recently had a medical emergency and drove myself to the doctor, I ended up with a $64 street cleaning ticket, which are easy to write and only occur during business hours. Priority parking zones have to be enforced at night, and not just between 6 p.m. and 7 p.m. as in the past. People aren’t stupid. When they see enforcement has been restricted to just 6 p.m. to 7 p.m., they’ll interpret that as free parking after 7 p.m.
Many believe the city has suspended parking enforcement in our area to encourage use of our neighborhood as an evening employee parking lot for the Miramar project, the Third Street Promenade and Montana Avenue businesses so as to leave open the maximum number of spaces for people with money to spend. But none of them spend as much as our residents spend just to live here! We already have six hotels packed into our six block area, one of which is threatening to expand into a massive hotel/condo/shopping center with hundreds of employees and thousands of customers. The demolition of the Miramar and construction of this massive development will cause us to lose street parking for the entire block for a period of years, then fill our community with non-stop circling cars looking for parking spaces. This will put us on the exact path of my former neighborhood of Georgetown in D.C. where even with enforced priority parking, residents can spend a half hour looking for a place to park, followed by a long walk home.
Personally, I support a progressive tax system that gathers revenue based on the ability to pay, as opposed to a regressive tax system which falls heaviest on working people and the poor and disguises taxes as fees.