Statistics concerning enforcement of a new category of habitual downtown parking violators don’t inspire much sympathy.
After hearing complaints about the new citation category, Lawrence city commissioners asked for a report on violations and enforcement. The report, which commissioners are scheduled to discuss at their Tuesday meeting, covers just the first month of enforcement.
In that one month, the parking control staff issued 85 habitual parking violator citations. Those 85 people had been issued 425 parking tickets in the preceding 30 days and 6,657 parking tickets in the last two years. Only six of those people had paid their parking fines as of April 9; the other 79 owe the city more than $25,000 in unpaid parking fines.
So, we’re talking about 85 people who have received an average of five tickets apiece in the last 30 days and 78 tickets apiece in the last two years. The 79 people who haven’t paid their fines owe an average of $316 in parking fines. As a point of reference, parking passes that are good at all downtown parking garages and 10-hour parking lots can be purchased for $192 a year.
These people pretty much define “habitual violators.” They’ve received enough tickets to understand what is and isn’t legal and they don’t care. They clearly are not being deterred from illegal parking by the standard $3 fines. Forty percent of the 85 habitual violators hadn’t paid any of the parking tickets they had received.
The new $50 parking tickets already have gotten the attention of at least some habitual violators. City commissioners should stand firm on the new ticket category and make sure local law enforcement and municipal court follow up with those who aren’t paying their fines.