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OLIVER: Parking tickets profit city, penalize residents

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eric oliverMy summer was filled with music, food, a vacation to Colorado and above all else, an abundance of parking tickets.

Naturally, I was less than thrilled. One or two of the tickets were, admittedly, my fault, but most of them were because of unclear signs or insignificant technicalities.

The City of Milwaukee is ticket happy. Milwaukee gives more tickets per capita than New York City. Milwaukee handed out just more than 743,000 parking tickets in 2012, or about 1.2 per resident. In comparison, New York City, known for it’s hideous ticketing practices, gave out just more than 9,000,000 tickets, or about 1.08 per resident.

TMJ4 article said when the Milwaukee Police Department was responsible for tickets in 1995, it issued $9.2 million worth of tickets. In 2010, under the Department of Public Works, which took over ticketing responsibility in 2000, more than $25 million in tickets were issued.

That is a ludicrous jump. The DPW is a lean mean ticketing machine, and unfortunately for those who commute to the City of Milwaukee, that means if you’re parked illegally, it will most likely result in a ticket.

The most interesting aspect of the DPW taking over is that it generated some $255 million for the city. So while we may have an absolutely excessive amount of parking tickets being issued, the city is undeniably profiting.

A 2010 Journal Sentinel article gave our wonderful campus a glamorous distinction – the most ticketed campus in the city. We had more than 7,800 tickets issued in just one year. In the 11 blocks that make up Marquette’s campus, DPW practically painted a bullseye, targeting students who have no where to park beside the costly parking structures.

Much of the increase in ticketing leads back to budget problems the city has experienced. Yet these tickets disproportionately affect lower income residents who don’t have access to driveways and have to resort to parking on streets with confusing parking restrictions – overnight parking restrictions being only one of them.

The city needs a new source of income that does not disproportionately affect one group. If the advertising legislation that I wrote about in an earlier column passes, I think that could help create income for the city.

Milwaukee has to find a way to be more efficient. Whether its in staffing or spending, the city isn’t operating at its point of equilibrium, and it needs to find it.

The city issues an absurd amount of tickets, and many of them are unfounded. With many accounts of people challenging tickets and eventually having them overturned, there is an excessive amount of unnecessary spending. If Milwaukee can introduce new technology to streamline the ticketing process, the city could avoid disputing unwarranted tickets and its residents could steer clear of those pesky parking fees.

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