American Morning

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July 1st, 2009
07:14 AM ET

War over parking tickets

Do parking tickets make you mad? Listen up.

Washington, D.C. raked in more than $67 million in revenues from parking tickets last year – and in the first five months of 2009 has already taken in $45 million in fines.

Washington is cashing in on your, shall we say, "inability to park legally." D.C. issued 1,465,394 parking tickets last year – in a city with just under 600-thousand people.

"To say that D.C. has an aggressive ticket-writing campaign of picking motorists pockets would be an understatement," says Lon Anderson, AAA's mid-Atlantic representative.

It's a cash bonanza not lost on other cities. Last year, Dallas took in $5.2 million; L.A., $120 million; New York, $624 million. So many parking tickets are being issued, for lawbreakers it's become a sport.

And on TV the tension between ticket-giver and scofflaw has become war. The A&E reality show "Parking Wars," set in Philadelphia, pits real life, aggressive parking ticket agents against people who park illegally. The show has meant cash for Philly, but also some bad PR.

Prospective tourists have sent angry emails to Philadelphia tourism officials. One comment: "Hey I was thinking of coming to Philly. I hear all the great things that are happening there, I've seen their ads, but then I saw 'Parking Wars' and I don't wanna be treated like that, I don't want my car to be treated like that. I'm never coming to your city."

Meryl Levitz, president of the Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corporation, says the city came up with a new Web marketing campaign to combat the fear of aggressive ticketing.

But there is no such PR fear in Washington D.C. Parking officials have come up with yet another way to catch "illegal parkers." They've mounted cameras on street sweepers to snap scofflaws. That ticket will come in the mail, costing you $60.

A&E had no comment on the controversy in Philadelphia over "Parking Wars," but you'll see the show again in the fall after it wraps up production in Detroit.

Filed under: Controversy
soundoff (14 Responses)
  1. kope187

    Well I love to find any reason to complain about something, but a complaint is all it is. What are your proposed solutions to this parking war issue? I can;t think of any off the top of my head but I don;t live in a big city.

    July 2, 2009 at 11:51 pm |
  2. Nomad

    Another theft by the government.
    They know there is not enough space to park. Yet they allow more people in an already over crowded city. Instead of controlling populations, or redesigning streets. They know there is not enough time on the meters.
    Every chance you get, take it back X's 100. I do!!

    July 1, 2009 at 10:36 am |
  3. Caroline - Philadelphia Tourism

    Thanks for mentioning the Philadelphia's web pages that we put up to help residents and visitors park smartly in the city. For reference, you can check them out here: and find parking deals here:

    And the Philly Overnight Hotel Package always has free hotel parking, so you could avoid the issue altogether!

    July 1, 2009 at 9:27 am |
  4. Ross Squires

    Parking tickets in my city are cheap compared to New York. I'm in St. John's, Newfoundland, Canada (Google it, were the closest point of land to the Titanic).
    Expired Meter $15.00
    Fire Lane $30.00
    No Parking anytime $30.00
    Winter Parking Ban $45.00
    Parked on sidewalk, crosswalk $50.00
    Handicapped Parking $50.00
    Newfoundland has a booming economy and a shortage of workers in some trades. Our Government is offering a $20,000 incentive for Nurses to come to our province to work.
    Housing starts are up (the highest in Canada).

    July 1, 2009 at 8:12 am |
  5. carol costello

    Hi Jerry,
    That's a good question...I do know that DC is hiring MORE people to ticket cars, in addition to buying cameras to mount on street sweepers to catch those who illegally park.

    Dallas raised the price of their tickets to $35 to "keep up with the rest of the country"–not because they needed money to pay ticket "police."

    In other words, these municipalities aren't hurting for cash to pay their people.

    Carol Costello

    July 1, 2009 at 8:04 am |
  6. Margaret Lanum

    Whats with it with you people ????? thousands of you go out to ball games and what not and you pay all amounts of money for tickets but you can't put money in a meter to pay to go to all these events so the players can get your $$$$$$$$ and millions at that ????? PLEASE , whats more important to you a ball player or the city where you live ?????, get your heads on straight New York !!!!!! STOP COMPLAINING AND DO IT .

    July 1, 2009 at 8:03 am |

    It would be interesting to know if administrative costs of the ticketing programs exceed the revenue.

    July 1, 2009 at 8:03 am |
  8. Driving is a Privilage?

    I've often heard the old saw that "driving is a privilege, not a right" which is garbage. The ability to move about freely and legally in this free country by whatever means available is a RIGHT guaranteed by our constitution. The key is, moving about "legally," without endangering yourself or others in the process. State requirements for vehicle registration and personal licensure are simply methods of taxation and control of the populace. A gross revenue of more than $67 million in parking fees is crazy!

    July 1, 2009 at 8:02 am |
  9. Bryan V. Weyant

    I live in New Paltz, NY where even municipal parking is metered. They guys that give tickets out are the fastest I've ever seen. I was late by 3 minutes once and got a ticket. Bottom line is that was my fault knowing how fast they are. My advice to people that are complaining about metered parking is to stop being so cheap. You're willing to risk not paying maybe up to a dollar for parking for a fine that could be up to $100 and a tow which can be double that. You're probably the same people that spend $10 a day for the lottery for a slim chance of winning rather than a dollor or two for a certain chance of a fine.

    July 1, 2009 at 8:00 am |
  10. Jerry Lynch

    How much in profit are these cities really making after paying expenses of parking agents, contract haulers and the cost of equipement?
    Does anyone have any information on what really goes back to the cities and what is this money spent on?

    July 1, 2009 at 7:53 am |
  11. Brooks Webb

    When I was living in Houston, Texas back in the late '80's going to college I had to go into the Texas Medical Center almost daily. I was a pooor college student and couldn't afford parking legally, so I would park at the Herman Park Golf Course inside the Medical Center. Many of my classmates got parking tickets except me. Why? Because I would put a putter and several golf balls on my dashboard to make it look like I was playing golf.

    July 1, 2009 at 7:53 am |
  12. Emily

    I think this is a great example of the value of congestion taxes. If New York or DC (re)considered a congestion tax, they could bring in sizable chunks of money, while keeping cars off the street. It would help solve budget concerns and make the streets safer and healthier, without any single person paying so much.

    July 1, 2009 at 7:52 am |
  13. Sean

    I got a $50 parking ticket in Boston. The time stamp was about 5 minutes after I left the area. Imagine my surprise when I saw on the ticket "Parked in a loading zone". There were at least ten of us in that "loading zone" with these crazy poles that we all put our money in. Needless to say I'm not paying it. GFY Boston Meter Nazi's

    July 1, 2009 at 7:49 am |
  14. Kim-Ha Albert in Seattle

    I would bet big money to tell you Carol that most of the people getting the tickets are senators, congressmen/women, diplomats, and other people who think they are ABOVE THE LAW~~What is infuriating to me, is that THERE ARE LAWS, and everyone ELSE do not abide by them–I have never received a parking ticket, nor a traffic ticket in my life, and I don't intend to get one either? What's my secret? Drive and park BELIEVING if something bad can happen IT WILL! Driving is a privilege, not a right, and one must not abuse it.

    July 1, 2009 at 7:24 am |