Two Irrefutable Reasons the D.C. Council’s Decision to Increase Parking Fines is Dumb
By Patricia Ellis Mitchell, Community Activist, Entrepreneur
The DC Council’s recent decision to increase the penalty for parking violations, as well as, increase the time that paid parking is required is short-sighted at best or indolent at worst.
Here’s the deal: Why would you try to sustain the current business model – one that projects revenues based on motorists disobeying the law – that collapses if the habits of the customer (read, folks who park cars on the streets of D.C.) change, even slightly, not to mention the sea-change that has occurred since the arrival of the parking app, the bike app, the car app and the Uber app?
Well, that’s exactly what the D.C. Council, in all its wisdom, is trying to do. And how do they propose to sustain this obsolete business model? By increasing the fines for citations, increasing the hours of operation and oh, yeah, presumably increasing the overtime or the number of employees required to carry out this misguided mission; that’s how. Makes sense, right?
Not only is the current business model unsustainable, if for no other reason than changing habits, the revenue projections for the department, instead of being based on the finite number of parking spaces, the cost of parking per hour and the number of daily hours of paid parking, has been based on a year-over-year increase, which is solely dependent on the ability of the department to continue to rack up citations (unwarranted and otherwise) through a system that has dramatically changed – forever! Gone are the days of lugging around a sack full of quarters to feed the hungry beasts of the DDOT’s parking system. As well they should be. After all, this is the 21st Century.
The real question is how has the initiation of the parking pay-by-app, the increase in bike ridership, the convenience of the ubiquitous and relatively cheap car-to-go, not to mention the tech-friendly, every-ready Uber, contributed to the decline in citations and penalties collected by the District? Could it be that more motorists (especially D.C. motorists) are simply choosing to use other forms of transportation to avoid the District’s parking hawks? You can’t blame the entire decrease in revenue on the parking app. Newsflash: Lifestyles in D.C., like it or not, have changed.
The D.C. Council should be called-out for being so unthoughtful, if that’s a word, for not coming up with a better way to raise money. Could it be that some councilmembers have been in office so long that they are clueless about the struggle D.C. residents and others who drive go through on a daily basis just to get around in this city?
Here’s an idea that businesses use all the time when revenues decline: They decrease personnel, decrease hours or a combination of both; not the other way around. And before I get accused of having a Republican mindset (not that I care) in a Democratic city, let me just state that I am a business owner and a Democrat. What I do know is when revenues shrink and costs continue to go up, I’ve got to either cut pay, cut staff, cut hours or a combination of all three. And before anyone goes off half-cocked that I’m suggesting they fire people, there are any number of departments within D.C. Government that are based on need – rec center employees, like lifeguards, parks maintenance workers, school bus drivers and crossing guards, come immediately to mind – so certainly the case can be made that parking employees ought to be cyclical or as needed. If demand goes down, manpower should go down. It’s not rocket science.
The real tragedy is that sooner, rather than later, drivers will get fed up with this parking vulture-like atmosphere that the current system has created and choose to rely on other options even more heavily or simply forgo parking on District streets altogether. I know I have. I suspect that then and only then will the Council be forced to come up with more thoughtful and sustainable solutions to a problem that’s only going to get worse if current trends continue, and start managing city funds as they have been elected to do, without taking the easy way out – sticking it to the residents once again.