What is Your Vision for Parking Enforcement? by Mark Napier, CAPP

When considering the title question, I fear some of us (assuming a measure of honesty) are thinking, “To write more citations than last year to ensure an increase in revenue.” Really? If this is our enforcement vision, clearly stated or only inferred, how does this translate into a serious examination of our parking management success in terms of organizational goals and enforcement officer performance? Will this enforcement vision generate public support?

I introduce these questions to stimulate thought. Consider that in reality a continued increase in the number of citations we write is an indication of failure. If we can agree the purpose of enforcement is to change behavior and that enforcement should have an educational nexus, we then have to face the fact that increasing noncompliance is an indication that we are failing to deter and/or failing to educate. Another possibility is that our parking programs are so woefully inadequate or so poorly marketed as to nearly invite noncompliance. This, too, is not indicative of any parking management success.

Enforcement personnel who are primarily evaluated on the volume of citations they write will find violations. However, these may not be the violations we really should be pursuing and may be motivated by a need to produce some magic number of citations each day without respect to the merit of the presenting violation. The possibility for unethical behavior on the part of enforcement officers is a concern and, stated or not, this could be considered a quota. Finally, any vision of enforcement that is evenly subtlety predicated on a number of citations as a goal effectively feeds into the very stereotypes of our industry we seek to dispel.

Whether a campus or municipality, we must consider what our vision for parking enforcement is. We have to determine if that vision is in harmony with our larger organizational goals, if the vision provides positive guidance to enforcement personnel, and if that vision could stand the test of the light of day.

3 thoughts on “What is Your Vision for Parking Enforcement? by Mark Napier, CAPP

  1. At our campus our vision of enforcement is to issue fewer tickets every year and ensure every ticket written is defendable. One way of measuring this performance is by monitoring ticket appeals — from this we are learning that our signage is not understandable, the strategy of our parking lots is confusing and our policies too complex. We have also focused on parking ticket collection. In the past this was left until a person had a history of non-compliant parking, now we are attempting to meet with students/faculty & staff after their 2nd ticket to work on the reasons for choosing to park in violation. This also provides violators the opportunity to address their outstanding tickets before the amount becomes insurmountable.

  2. I agree with both Mark and Pauline. Enforcement at its root is an educational mechanism, designed to promote compliance with regulations, and ideally those regulations are appropriately designed for the adjacent land use. But successful programs will measure the violation rate, and the violation capture rate – among other measures of parking activity – and will educate their enforcement officers in those measures and engage them in discussions about them. For on-street, a violation rate of 3% or less should be observed in multi-space meter regulations (one of the telltales), and violation capture rates between 33 and 40 percent should be observed. How many municipal and university programs actually collect these data on a periodic, let alone a regular, basis? Reference the Parking Management 101 Handbook , Chapter 4, for more info.

  3. While PEO’s are a target to complaints the main objective in our city is to teach and change. Very true Joe, Enforcement is nothing more than a tool for corrective action. In turn, we must teach enforcement officers that an once of prevention is better then pound of cure. Staying on top of the real issue is the most critical issue we face.

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