Atlanta's new proposed parking enforcement contract raises concerns

Changes are coming to how Atlanta handles its parking enforcement. It’s an issue which is continuing to cause concern as a new company is being vetted for a contact with the city.

Park Atlanta was contracted by the Atlanta City Council in 2009 to lighten the load of parking enforcement duties for the Atlanta Police Department. The vendor started working in 2010 and in six years, the company generated so many complaints about aggressive ticketing and booting practices, that city council agreed to give Park Atlanta the boot.

“The horror stories were awful. People would tell me they were just one minute late and still got no grace period and instead got a ticket,” Mary Norwood told FOX 5’s Morse Diggs earlier this year.

Council members let Park Atlanta's contract expire in September 2016 and are now poised to move forward with a new contract from a SP Plus, Chicago-based vendor that handles parking enforcement in the city of Decatur. Atlanta's City attorney told council members Monday, SP Plus offers a 10-minute mobile phone alert when a meter is running low and a two-minute grace period if someone discovers they have received a ticket. And, according to city officials, SP Pus will be fined for broken meters and billed if tickets are overturned by judges in traffic court.

Vincent Fort told council members there are concerns about how the company will do business in the streets and parking lots of Atlanta.

“It's my understanding that the ordinance, as it is written, would give the new vendor $7 million, not $5 like with Park Atlanta, but $7 million. If that's the case, it's even more likely they'll put the squeeze on citizens of Atlanta,” Fort said during the public comment section of the Monday's afternoon meeting.

Council members ultimately voted to defer the issue for further review by the transportation committee. A full vote is expected in the next couple of weeks.