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Glendale opts to outsource parking enforcement, expects increase in citations

Glendale opts to outsource parking enforcement, expects increase in citations
The Glendale City Council voted to outsource some of its parking enforcement services to a private company beginning next spring. The move is expected to increase the city's revenue by increasing the number of citations given out. (Raul Roa / Glendale News-Press)

More parking tickets are expected to be handed out in Glendale beginning this spring when a contract with a private company to expand enforcement staff and enhance technology is set to go into effect.

Glendale City Council members unanimously voted Tuesday to approve a nearly $25-million, five-year contract with SP Plus Corp. to provide up to 16 full-time parking-enforcement officers and management staff, as well as new hybrid or electric vehicles, automated license-plate-reading equipment and handheld citation-issuance devices.

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“More effective monitoring will lead to tickets being appropriately issued as violations are addressed,” city spokesman Dan Bell said in an email, pointing to an example when a business owner calls to report that a car has been parked in a two-hour space for four hours with an expired meter.

“With additional parking-enforcement officers in place, that person would now receive a citation, where they may not have with the current number of enforcement officers in place,” Bell said.

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Several council members said they wanted the beefed-up program — set to go live in April — to balance enforcement with compassion, so that residents and business patrons don’t have to live in fear of getting a ticket.

While Councilman Vartan Gharpetian said enforcement is important, especially in places where street parking is scarce, “we also don’t want to be a sledgehammer that comes down on everyone.”

He added: “If we get too many complaints that there is too much enforcement, or it’s really harsh, we have to have a mechanism in place to address that issue.”

The contract allows the city to scale the outsourced enforcement down or up as needed, according to the city’s parking manager Tad Dombroski.

While the contract price tag looks high on paper, the increased number of citations is expected to lead to a net revenue increase of $1 million annually for the city, Dombroski said during the meeting.

Glendale currently employs approximately 10 parking-enforcement officers, who will continue to work alongside staff from SP Plus, Bell said.

No city staff will be laid off as a result of the outsourcing, Dombroski said at the meeting.

In June 2015, a consultant brought in by the city to evaluate its parking-enforcement program recommended outsourcing some duties to address its low staff levels, outdated technology and lack of centralized organization, according to a staff report.

Responding to the recommendations, the city restructured its program in February 2017, which allowed it to eliminate one full-time enforcement officer position.

The following year, the city began the process of seeking contract proposals from private parking-services companies.

SP Plus’s five-year contract has an option to extend it for another five years. The cost of the approved contract covers all ten years.

If city officials are not satisfied with the contract, or the projected revenue isn’t generated, the agreement can be canceled with a 30-day notice, according to assistant city manager Roubik Golanian.

One resident, Burt Culver, showed up to the meeting Tuesday night to criticize the move, arguing that maximizing revenues means writing tickets for minimal infractions, such as parking too far from the curb.

“If the traffic court is flooded with tickets, that’s the city’s cost, not [the company’s],” Culver said.

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