In race for Mayor, Robinson rumored to be considering parking reforms

Terrence Robinson, the candidate for Mayor of Buffalo and member of the City Preservation Board, is rumored to be considering a package of parking reforms for introduced later this year.  While a concrete version of any plan is a long ways from being finalized, a source said that Robinson is considering a wide ranging set of proposals — including a drastic cut in parking fines, peeling back metered parking zones, and loosening on street parking restrictions.

In recent years the Brown Administration, under the direction of Parking Commissioner Kevin Helfer, has seen parking fines as a source of revenue growth. The administration has increased parking fines and expanded parking fee hours for on street parking along Hertel Avenue, before quickly reversing that plan after the Hertel Avenue Business Association expressed outrage.  At the time City Comptroller Mark Schroeder said that he would reverse the new parking taxes if he is elected Mayor later this year.

The administration is considering a similar plan for the Elmwood Village, in which drivers will be required to pay meters for on street parking until 9 pm rather than 5 pm, as is current ordinance.

In fiscal year 2013-14 the administration collected $5.37 million in parking violation fines and penalties.  In the 2016-17 adopted budget, the city projects to collect $6.6 million.  In fiscal year 2013-14 the administration collected $1.79 million in on-street meter fees, which grew to a projected $2.54 million in the 2016-17 adopted budget.

A source says that Robinson’s plan would take a decidedly different approach to parking, including reducing the standard fine from $40 per violation to $10 per violation.

“We are a poor city and it is unjust to gouge residents on parking fines in order to fund well paid patronage positions at city hall,” complains one Linwood Avenue resident who asked not to be named.  “We should remove all of the parking meters throughout the neighborhood commercial districts, like Elmwood, Allen, and Hertal.”

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