Petition to Amend the City of Wilmington's Residential and Guest Pass Application System.
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My name is Danita Grasty and I live in Midtown Brandywine, located in downtown Wilmington, Delaware. We live in a unique area that is walking distance from a hospital, restaurants/bars, several corporate offices and businesses. In order to park in our neighborhood, the City requires residents to register for an online/digital residential sticker. If the Parking Enforcement Officer scans a license plate parked in our neighborhood, this system identifies registered residents from visitors. As it stands, if a visitor parks in Midtown Brandywine, they are permitted to park for one hour without a penalty. If the visitor parks for over one hour, they are cited with a "Limited Time Parking" ticket which carries a fee of $40. There is signage advising that you may only park for one hour but no mention of the fee. This neighborhood is comprised of both renters and home owners. To my knowledge, the Landlords and/or Property Managers do not inform new residents that they need to register for a "residential parking pass." Therefore, our new neighbors are often welcomed with a $40 "Limited Time Parking" ticket when moving in. If someone elects to fight it, there is a written dispute process that needs to be submitted 21 days after receipt of the violation. Otherwise, additional penalty fees are assessed to the $40 ticket that can result in being increased to $200 and/or a vehicle being booted and disabled. (Plus, an extra $100 to get the boot removed.)
The City of Wilmington also has a "Guest Pass/Do Not Ticket" request/application. Unless a resident or visitor visits the City of Wilmington's website, this information is unavailable to constituents and there is no signage posted anywhere to inform them of this option. Midtown Brandywine does have a Facebook page where residents inform and educate each other about matters such as safety, nuisance crimes and you guessed it, parking issues. As it stands today, if a resident has a visitor that plans to park in our neighborhood for more than one hour, the resident has to complete an online application and submit it to the City of Wilmington to get "permission" for the "Guest Pass" for up to 7 days. This submission must also be received 24 hours PRIOR to the guest arriving. So, if my brother decides to drive up from North Carolina and surprise me for my birthday, with plans to crash at my home, he will also get a surprise. A $40 "Limited Time Parking" ticket if this system is not used.
Now, there is also phone number listed on the website to inform residents/visitors how to "apply" for this "Guest Pass." Although the caller is encouraged to leave a message with the same information that the application asks for, the voice message is not considered valid because of the "24 hour prior" notification rule. How ridiculous is that?! To boot, the person who retrieves the messages from this phone number, Ms. Beverly Marion, arrives in her office AFTER the Parking Enforcement Officers start patrolling. How backwards is that?! Therefore, if someone leaves a message, their message is ignored therefore, the Officers do not get the list of residents/visitors who have left a verbal message to request this "perk" from Ms. Marion and are subsequently ticketed. Which in turn results in the visitor having to enter in the written dispute process mentioned above.
Folks, there is a hole in this system. Here are the problems:
1. New residents are not informed by the City of Wilmington that they must register for a digital residential parking decal to avoid getting "Limited Time Parking" citations. The solution, signage can be posted to advise new residents that they are expected to register by providing a phone number where they can leave their information and a link to the website on the sign to submit their info online. If the City can post signage about "pet poo litter" and the fines associated with a resident not cleaning up after a pet, they should be able to create signage for this issue. Besides, there are far more residents that pet owners. It is arrogant for the City to assume that everyone has a Smartphone or computer access.
2. Residents who are expecting visitors should be permitted to leave a voice mail message or complete an online message box that sends their request to Ms. Marion and/or the Parking Enforcement Officers immediately. The system that the City uses to accept payment on parking tickets is instant. Therefore, the Department of Revenue/Finance should be able to create a new system where a "Guest Pass" request can be submitted and received in real time so that the Parking Enforcement Officers do not ticket visitors unnecessarily.
3. Guest Passes should not be limited to 7 days. The resident should be able to amend their request if they have friends or family members who would like extend the length of their visit. This is a neighborhood, not a residential dorm and adults who pay rent or mortgage should not have to feel or be treated like they are in a controlled living space. A voice mail message or online message box option can also be created for this as well.
On behalf of the residents of Midtown Brandywine, our friends and families, I am asking for your support to start this petition. The City of Wilmington is using its constituents to generate revenue and that is wrong. We are hard working, tax paying residents who live in a quiet and peaceful area of the City. However, the residents are penalized more than non-residents. It is disgusting how overzealous the Parking Enforcement Officers are in patrolling this area of the City. It is unfair, inconvenient and many of us feel harassed. The goal of this petition is to encourage our elected officials to consider our concerns and make the necessary changes that will allow the residents of Midtown Brandywine to relax and enjoy the space we live in. It is super frustrating how we have dealt with these issues year after year and nothing has ever been done. I for one, am sick of it and want to do something about it. I am tired of being on edge worrying about if my guest is going to receive a parking ticket while visiting me. I have spent countless hours over the years submitting written disputes, making phone calls, sending emails, going to the Revenue Department in person and it all seems to be in vain. Time is money. I should not know the chain of command in the Revenue/Finance Department, but I do and they are familiar with my name as well. Why, because I refuse to just pay unwarranted tickets to make the problem go away. Paying these citations is a temporary solution, until the next citation is written. The problem has never been resolved and each time I have an issue, I call, email and visit their office until I get a resolution. Furthermore, the City is treating public streets like private property and capitalizing on it. I refuse to remain quiet and I need your help. Please help me encourage the "powers that be" to make the necessary changes so that new residents and visitors can be more informed, amend the current system so that it is more "constituent" friendly and stop the City from using their constituents to supplement their revenue shortcomings. Enough is enough! There is strength in numbers and I hope I can count on each and everyone of you to support me in getting a fair resolution . Thank you for your time and support.
Danita M. Grasty
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