ATLANTA, Ga. -- No one seems sad to see ParkAtlanta go, but will the new vendor be any better?
Council members seemed hopeful Wednesday as Atlanta's Public Works Commissioner Richard Mendoza detailed the vendor he thought should take over the job.
The contract of ParkAtlanta, which handled Atlanta's parking enforcement since 2009, ended last month.
11Alive was the only TV station present as details of the new parking plan were discussed.
The proposal doesn't call for any new metered parking spaces, nor does it increase fees when drivers stay too long. But it does promise to make $2 million more for the city while easing up on aggressive tactics towards enforcement.
The city had endured years of complaints from ParkAtlanta users prompting guidelines for companies that wanted to take over.
The new city parking contract proposal would give the city of Atlanta a guaranteed revenue of $7 million throughout a 5-year contact period, with two one-year renewal options. The guaranteed income is nearly $2 million more than ParkAtlanta offered.
According to Mendoza, three companies bid on the project: SP Plus, ABM Parking Services, and Resurgence Parking a Joint Venture. ABM Parking was deemed non-responsive so Mendoza says only the other two contracts were studied.
According to Mendoza, the selected company will handle back office operations, equipment repair, and enforcement, but customer service and complaints will be moved in-house.
Emphasis will be more on compliance and less on enforcement, Mendoza said. Instead of officers writing tickets, the city will have ambassadors. The proposal uses the same subcontractor to actually write the tickets, All N One, so for those monitoring the meters its the same job just a different outfit and attitude. Still, Council member Kwanza Hall believes it could work.
"I tell you go out and beat up people that's one way," Hall said. "If I tell you to go out and gently discuss problems with people, they are different approaches. So I think it's philosophy. It's training, re-training."
Under the proposal, if SP Plus makes more than $13.5 million, ticket revenue will be split with the city on a gradual scale, with Atlanta's share incrementally getting larger. The idea is to reduce incentives for the company to write more tickets than necessary to manage parking inventory.
In an 11Alive Investigation, Rebecca Lindstrom calculated three years of parking ticket data to find the hot spots. During enforcement hours, she found someone is getting a parking ticket every 45 seconds.
The city put penalties in place if ParkAtlanta issued tickets in the absence of clear signage, at broken meters, or if enforcement personnel behaved rudely.
Yet when Lindstrom asked the city how much ParkAtlanta had been fined, the answer was zero. On Wednesday council members questioned whether this time the city would have more teeth.
"We need to vet this and make sure we understand clearly what we are contracting people to do," said council member Felicia Moore.
Even though committee members were never given an actual copy of the contract with SP Plus-All N One Joint Venture, the Transportation Committee voted to move it to the full council for discussion on Monday. Only Moore voted no.
11Alive first began holding the powerful accountable in 2012 when our Parking Bill of Rights led to a new city law. More than 600 people signed a petition calling for working meters and better marked parking spaces.
The city also restructured its deal with ParkAtlanta by taking back $200,000 a year in exchange for more accurate, more accountable enforcement.
MORE DETAILS OF THE PARKING PROPOSAL:
According to Mendoza, other proposed features of the new parking proposal include: use of a license plate reader to ensure accuracy and a five-minute grace period before tickets are issued.
Cars will pay by zone instead of parking space and meters will have a color screen to make them easier to read and reduce glare.
A pay-by-phone app is another proposed feature, which Mendoza says would send a notification 10 minutes before time is up, to alert you to add more time.
Upon approval, a local public relations firm will help raise awareness and assist with the transition, Mendoza said.
The public can expect clearer signage and parking enforcement dressed to look more like customer service reps than officers.