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Appealing Wilmington Updates

FOIA Request filed with the city of Wilmington:

My friends involved in the administration of the city of Wilmington,

Before we get to the official Freedom of Information Act request, I want to offer the “Why” behind the “What.”

Since I worked with the city in 2011 and 2012 to improve the parking situation in Wilmington (see WilmingtonParking.blogspot.com for background) – I have become the de facto “go to” guy for all things parking related.

One of the issues we didn’t really get into back in 2011-2012 was the appeals process. While I’ve heard disconcerting anecdotes here and there, I wasn’t convinced there was something systemic to address.

But, in the past few months, more stories came my way and yes, I filed my own appeal for a parking citation issued at a meter that did not work (which I had called in) – the appeal was filed at the end of March and when I stopped in to inquire about the status at the end of April I was told the average time for a decision on an appeal was two months. As of this writing, we’re approaching three months and I still haven’t heard anything.

It would seem that we have a “glitch” in this system and I believe we have the skills and talent in this city to analyze the data and make recommendations to help the system work more smoothly.

In addition to numbers and data, I think we need to also look at policies and practices – again, I’m hearing some anecdotes that, if true, should lead to some discussions about these policies and practices.

It is my sincere hope that you see this as the offer for help that it is – and I encourage open lines of communication throughout this process.

With all of this in mind, I now file this Freedom of Information Act request in accordance with TITLE 29, §10003 of the Delaware Code for the following data:

  1. number of parking citations issued, broken down by month, from January, 2014 through May, 2016
  2. number of appeals to parking citations, broken down by month, from January, 2014 through May, 2016
  3. number of appeals to parking citations granted, broken down by month, from January, 2014 through May, 2016
  4. average amount of time taken to process appeals to parking citations from January, 2014 through May, 2016
  5. number of parking citations issued to vehicles owned by a rental car company or leasing company from January, 2014 through May, 2016
  6. number of refunds processed to rental car companies or leasing companies based on successful appeals between January, 2014 and May, 2016
  7. number of meters reported broken or malfunctioning, broken down by month, between January, 2014 and May, 2016

In addition to the above data, I am requesting answers to the following questions:

  1. What is the formula for late fees or fines for parking citations? Some have said they were charged $20, others $60, and still others, $100.
  2. Some have said that when they appeal multiple citations, they are offered a “deal” to just pay for one or two of the citations and the rest would be dismissed – is this a policy or has this ever been offered?
  3. Some have said they were told that late fees and fines were put “on hold” during the appeals process, but when the appeals were denied, late fees and fines were applied retroactively, covering the time of the appeals process. Is this a policy or practice?
  4. Research shows that fines for expired parking meters throughout the region (except for lower and mid-town Manhattan) are less than the $40 fines set in Wilmington:

New York City $65 – Manhattan below 96th street

$35 – all other areas

Philadelphia $36 – Center City & University City

$26 – Non-Center City & University City Areas

Baltimore                   $32

Washington DC $25 – with a proposal to raise the amount to $30

Boston                                    $25

Why are the fines in Wilmington set so high?

5. In 2012, the city of Wilmington installed a few parking meters that take credit card payments – but the majority of meters in the city still only accept coins – why haven’t more meters been installed to accept credit card payments in the past four years?

6. I have heard from two people recently who received a parking citation and sent in their check within the 21-day time limit only to find themselves charged a late fee because the check was not processed until after the deadline had passed. I would like to know what the process is for recording when a payment is received via check.

I request that as much of the data as possible be offered through email, it would be great if the data in the first section could be offered in either .csv or .xcl formats, but Word or .txt docs would be acceptable as well.

I am also available and willing to come to the City/County building to help with the process of gathering/analyzing the data.

I have allocated $40 to cover the cost of this request, please let me know if the cost is expected to exceed that amount so I can start a crowd-funding effort.

Finally, I have launched a new website for this project – AppealingWilmington.com – where you should be able to find this request posted along with videos and other information. I expect others to come forward with their stories, and I will share those with you in an effort to gain clarification and resolution.

I look forward to working with you in this effort to improve the parking citation appeals process for everyone.

Ken Grant

302-588-4151

ken.grant7@gmail.com

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