Time and place
After getting a ticket, Councilwoman Margaret McAustin feels motivated to improve city parking
By Justin Chapman 06/03/2010
Hours after Pasadena Weekly published the results of a state Public Records Act request that found nearly 230 city employees — including City Council members — enjoy unlimited parking privileges by using Official City Business parking placards, Councilwoman Margaret McAustin received a $42 ticket for leaving her car in a space longer than the allotted 20 minutes.
Unfortunately for McAustin, who was the only councilmember last July to vote against a $1.9 million three-year extension of the city’s contract with Inter-Con Security Systems to enforce city parking laws, she forgot to display her OCB placard.
The city recently hired another firm to collect tickets issued to out-of-state drivers, which McAustin voted for, saying that “it’s important that the city collect all the revenue to which we’re entitled.” And, now that she’s been ticketed, McAustin said she will pay the $42 fine. “But it sucks,” she acknowledged.
As part of a series of stories in the Weekly on the city’s parking and traffic enforcement procedures, the newspaper made 10 recommendations for improvement.
One of the paper’s proposals included hiring a replacement for former Parking Director Bill Bortfeld, an idea that McAustin supports.
Other suggestions included:
• Form a citywide citizens’ parking commission that would report to the City Council and meet monthly to hear complaints and review reports from Inter-Con.
• Freeze fines for expired meters at $30, then raise all other parking fines only every two years.
• Increase free parking in city garages from 90 minutes to two hours.
• Offer a first-time warning.
• Allow any resident to park on the street day and night under one permit. Further, allow residents to obtain overnight parking permits for guests on an annual basis, rather than each time someone needs to stay the night.
McAustin agreed that parking regulations should be addressed on a citywide basis, saying, “We need to have consistency with city rules and implement uniform policies across the city.”
Mayor Bill Bogaard also agreed that there is room for improvement, though he did not immediately support any specific suggestion by the paper. However, Bogaard said he would discuss the recommendations with City Manager Michael Beck to see if any of them are feasible.
“I could see this being referred to staff with the recommendation that staff come back to council with an evaluation and recommendations of actions that might be taken in light of these suggestions,” said the mayor.