Parking Wilmington drops meeters, adds parking kiosks

Wilmington reduces parking fines; rips out meters to add kiosks

Betsy PriceGovernment, Headlines

Parking Wilmington drops meeters, adds parking kiosks

Wilmington plans to get rid of all its parking meters and instead use kiosks that will take take coins or credit cards, and let drivers pay by the parking app or text.

Wilmington’s had lots of parking news in recent days.

First, the Wilmington City Council last week passed a new law that starting Jan. 1 wil reduce parking tickets from $40 to $25 for people who pay the fine within 14 days of getting the ticket.

On Tuesday, the city announced it is installing parking kiosks and eliminating parking meters, work that will take place in phases, starting this week in the Riverfront District.

The kiosks will accept coins, credit cards or payment through the Park Mobile app. Motorists can also pay by text.

The goal, the city said, is to make paying for parking in Wilmington easier and more convenient.

“It’s encouraging to see all these steps being taken,” said Ken Grant, member of the Wilmington Fines and Fees Justice Team.

He has been front and center battling the city over its parking practices, frequently hammering the city with videos on social media.
“The city still needs to take some time and really do a comprehensive overview of the entire system,” he said.

Five new parking kiosks were to be installed Tuesday in the Riverfront District, which has had kiosks for year. The new ones will serve as a test run to make sure there are no issues with the system, the city said in a press release.

The next phase of installments, set to start in January, will put kiosks at 44 locations in the Downtown Business District.

Commissioner of Public Works Kelly Williams  said the kiosks will appear wherever there currently are downtown meters.

Once the kiosks are installed, the city will remove the old meter heads and eventually the poles that support them.

As the kiosks are activated, meters on that block will display a yellow sign that says “Pay at kiosk,” reminding motorists to do that.

The kiosks are being installed by Flowbird, which has a $604,000 contract to buy and install the kiosks, and to provide ongoing support.

The kiosks will accept coins, credit cards or payment through the Park Mobile app. Motorists can also pay by text.

Here’s how the text payment option works:

  • Text a code to the number provided on the sign or sticker displayed on the kiosk.
  • You will immediately receive a text reply.
  • Follow the secure link and enter your license plate number.
  • Choose your length of stay.
  • Enter your payment information.
  • Your parking session begins immediately.

Flowbird’s generic instructional video can be seen here.

“It’s been a good week thus far for our ongoing parking enforcement reform efforts,” said Wilmington Mayor Mike Purzycki. “We’ve lowered the cost of a parking ticket to $25 beginning Jan. 1 for those who pay the ticket within 14-days of issuance, and we are introducing a much simpler way to pay for parking using kiosks with additional convenient payment options.

“Our goal is to support our local businesses and residents by making sure parking is available and less of a hassle.”

Parking fines reduction

After  years of complaints about Wilmington city parking practices, the city council unanimously passed an ordinance Dec. 14 that reduces parking fines for early payments.

The new law will drop parking fines from $40 to $25 if the violation is paid within 14 days of issuance.

It also will eliminate the discount for early payment of civil penalties for certain parking and motor vehicle violations, and extend the deadline to protest citations from 20 to 21 days.

The change in the law will cut the city’s income by $150,000 per year.

At-Large Councilwoman Maria D. Cabrera said she’s believed since her first time on the council that $40 parking tickets were cost prohibitive for some many residents of economically challenged neighborhoods.

“I believe that if the tickets were $25 we would get more compliance,” she said. “In addition, I felt it was a deterrent for people coming to Wilmington to patronize our establishments. They told me so themselves.”

She thanked the council for voting with her.

“It took a lot of work, research, and common sense negotiations, to get to this point,” she said.

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Finance director Brett Taylor came up with a compromise solution to keep the ordinance on track, she said.

“It was a true example of working together and negotiating to do the right thing,” she said. “I am very thankful to the administration for their willingness to come up with a solution for something that both Mayor Mike Purzycki and I believed to be the right thing.”

Cabrera said community groups and people working on parking reform also had been supportive of the process.

“I am very grateful to Council Member Cabrera and all of the city council members who voted unanimously to take this much needed step to bring Wilmington closer to what other cities in the Mid-Atlantic region have established as a reasonable fine for a simple parking violation,” said parking activist Grant.
He finds it troubling that the city continues to focus on parking tickets as a revenue source rather than a traffic flow or public safety issue.
A lot of the parking system rules are decades old and were instituted when downtown Wilmington essentially rolled up its sidewalks at 5 p.m. and there was no need for night parking, he said.
“All of that’s changed dramatically,” he said.
Among other things, there needs to be consistent signage throughout the city and an understanding of why certain rules are in place, especially in the neighborhoods, he said.
“All of us who have been trying to work with the administration to address these basic issues remain open to helping the city update its policies and practices to create a system that is fair and equitable to all who live, work, and play in Wilmington.”


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