ATLANTA - You told us parking in Atlanta was daunting and confusing, so 11Alive is taking a stand to clear up the confusion, and to make identifying and paying for your spot easier.
Part of the problem, according to viewers? Unclear signage and restrictions.
In the past getting answers from ParkAtlanta, the private company that handles enforcement in the city of Atlanta, hasn't been easy. In fact, it has been a challenge to even know where to look.
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Though many Atlantans know the name ParkAtlanta, very few know anything about who runs the company. Most would expect ParkAtlanta's headquarters to be in Atlanta, when, in fact, it is located in Milwaukee, under the umbrella of its parent company, Duncan Solutions. Duncan employs 87 people in Metro Atlanta, including 60 enforcement officers, and although they provide parking services in 2,300 other locations in North America and Australia, Atlanta is the only location where Duncan Solutions handles enforcement.
Since ParkAtlanta took over city enforcement in 2009, both 11Alive and the city have receive complaints from ticketed drivers.
11Alive's Commuter Dude, John Gerard, reached out to ParkAtlanta and Duncan Solutions, and asked to arrange an interview with company president Mike Nicholas. Gerard eventually was given the name of Duncan's regional vice president of operations in Atlanta, Anderson Moore.
"I am not allowed to talk to the media without the city's approval," Moore said to Gerard on the phone.
"But the city's department of public works - the PIO - is the one who gave me your contact information," Gerard told him on the phone.
"And that's fine - I'll just need to speak to her first," Moore said. "And then, I'll be happy to call you back."
Two full weeks after Gerard's original request to speak with the company's president, he was granted an interview with the company's regional vice president.
"When ParkAtlanta first came in, there was a lot of citizen outcry about practices of unfair ticketing, aggressive ticketing," Gerard said.
"Our officers are not out there looking - hunting and searching for violations," Moore said. "Because we don't want individuals writing errant tickets. That ruins the integrity of the whole system."
"With that said," Gerard said. "I've been in contact with someone who was a former parking enforcement officer with ParkAtlanta, who said they were under pressure to write more and more tickets, with a suggestion that at times, their jobs might be threatened."
"There's no founding there," Moore said.
"That's never happened," Gerard said.
"No," Moore replied.
"There's never been an instance when a manager with ParkAtlanta told the parking enforcement officers that they needed to write more tickets to generate more revenue, otherwise their jobs could potentially be in danger," Gerard said.
"We do not threaten our employees with their jobs," Moore said. "Their jobs are to go out and enforce the city's ordinances and do the best job they can and to be accountable for the job they do."
But Gerard said he still wanted to pose the questions to company president Mike Nicholas - so he traveled to Milwaukee. And even though ParkAtlanta's PR firm called 11Alive before his flight to Milwaukee to let Gerard know that Nicholas would be out of town on business, Gerard said he still wanted to visit the company's headquarters.
Duncan provides parking services in Milwaukee, but they are not responsible for day-to-day enforcement there. That function is handled by the city of Milwaukee's Department of Public Works.
While in Milwaukee, Gerard received yet another call from ParkAtlanta's PR firm.
"We wanted to see if we can set up an interview with Mike Nicholas - it might be in mid-August. We'd love to hear back from you to see if we can set something up," the caller said.
Meanwhile, Gerard said he had one more question for Duncan's man in Atlanta - Anderson Moore.
"How do you gain trust back in a city where so many don't trust you?"
"I believe strongly that we're providing a service, but I also believe that we always have room for improvement," Moore said. "Part of my job is to ensure that we constantly listen to the complaints and concerns - some of which you brought up today, and try to raise the bar every day, and make a better service for the citizens of Atlanta."