Editorial: Slash Detroit parking fines across the board
Detroit's continued resurgence means that more people are flocking downtown to try out the hot new restaurants and sports venues. The same goes for all the new office space, which is attracting more jobs in the heart of the city. Detroit officials shouldn't do anything to deter this growth.
Yet the City Council is deliberating a new plan for parking fees that misses the mark.
This proposal includes cutting fines for parking meter and no-parking-zone violations in half, to $22.50 from $45, if the offender pays within five days of receiving the ticket.
The current iteration of the plan, however, only affects city residents. Non-residents will still have to pay the higher fines. That includes people who work downtown — and pay city taxes.
Cutting parking violation fines in half is a fine idea. But the savings should apply to Detroiters and visitors alike.
The fees are way too high — they were jacked up from $15 to help the city post-bankruptcy. They're punitive, and a burden on those who end up with a ticket under their windshield.
Detroit needs outsiders to come into downtown and the neighborhoods to spend their money at shops, restaurants, bars and sporting and entertainment venues. The fine reductions could come as a relief for some individuals. But keeping sky-high fines for everyone else could deter people from outside the city from spending their money downtown.
Other Metro area cities have much lower parking fines than Detroit. In Grosse Pointe Park, for example, expired parking meter fines are $20 and other offenses are $25.
In Livonia, most parking violations are $55, but the fine is reduced to $25 if paid within two days — no matter where the offender lives.
Many other comparable metropolitan areas across the United States boast lower parking violation fees as well. In Cleveland, standard parking violations cost $25. In St. Louis, expired meter violations are $10 and minor violations are $25.
Non-residents contribute to downtown Detroit’s successful — and ongoing — revival. If they work downtown, they pay the city’s 1.2 percent non-residential income tax.
Non-residents account for 80 percent of the city’s parking violations, Keith Hutchings, head of Detroit’s municipal parking department, told The Detroit News. Only 26 percent of parking violation fines are left unpaid.
Without including non-residents in the deal, the city expects the fine discount program to reduce revenue by $73,000 annually.
The City Council should treat non-residents who contribute to the community like its own residents. They, too, should receive a discounted rate for their parking tickets.
Cut the fines across the board and keep residents and non-residents alike coming downtown. All parking offenders will be more willing to pay their fines and come back to experience the good food, sports and entertainment — the spirit of Detroit.