Enforcement begins Tuesday for new parking kiosks

Christine Ferretti
The Detroit News

Detroit — Parking enforcement officers on Tuesday will resume writing tickets citywide for violators of Detroit’s new parking regulations.

The renewed focus on compliance comes after the city’s Municipal Parking Department had relaxed restrictions in recent months as Detroit transitioned to a new $3.5 million on-street parking system.

The ParkDetroit system offers “pay-by-plate” kiosks, rather than individual spaces. Drivers will walk up to a meter kiosk, enter their license plate number and park in any space within a specific zone, outlined on the kiosk, rather than a single spot. A motorist can move the vehicles within the zone without paying again, assuming the purchased time has not run out.

The city initially wrote only courtesy tickets in neighborhoods as it piloted the system to remind drivers to make parking payments. They also had enforcement officers serving as ambassadors to assist motorists in using the kiosks.

“We understood that some motorist would need time to get comfortable using the new kiosks; therefore, we wanted to relax parking enforcement to give everyone a chance to get familiar with the new system,” Norm White, director of the Detroit Municipal Parking Department, said in a statement released Monday.

For those who do receive violations, the city has also established a new process of contesting tickets through the website www.ParkDetroit.us, eliminating the need for motorists to physically appear, officials said.

Motorists contesting tickets can visit the website and go to the “Pay or Contest Ticket” feature to fight tickets they believe are undeserved. They will also be able to upload pictures to the site to help make their case, officials said.

Officials are urging drivers to download the ParkMobile app. It allows drivers to pay for their parking sessions via smartphone and sends text alerts 10 minutes before a parking session expires and provides an option to extend the parking time.

“We understand that time is one of the most valuable commodities of today’s working class,” White said. “So we wanted to create a process that didn’t force motorists to take time off of work to physically appear at our department and wait for their cases to be heard.

“Our goal is to make parking more convenient for our customers, and that includes the unfortunate circumstance of having to contest a ticket.”

Municipal parking’s on-street parking overhaul also includes state-of-the art equipment that makes enforcement of parking rules more efficient for parking enforcement officers.

Officers have been assigned new vehicles equipped with license plate reader technology that quickly scans license plates to determine whether motorists have paid to park in the area. The scan then communicates to a monitor within the vehicle, and if there is a violation, a ticket is processed and printed from a handheld device, officials said.

The City Council in July voted unanimously to revise Detroit’s parking ordinance, a move that established varying parking zones throughout the city, most with steeper rates.

Everyday rates will remain $1 an hour in metered neighborhoods. However, the hourly rate in Midtown and Eastern Market bumps to $1.50, and to $2 in the city’s central business district.

The system upgrade aids the department in enforcing parking rules throughout the city.

Previously, the department struggled with enforcement; about half of Detroit’s 3,196 on-street meters didn’t operate properly last year, officials have said.