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Residents to city: Give PARKAtlanta the boot

And state Sen. Vincent Fort says we should just ban third-party parking enforcement

As PARKatlanta nears the end of its contract, many Atlanta residents and business owners are clamoring to ensure the city's next plan for parking enforcement is nothing like the current one.
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? In 2009, during the height the Great Recession, Wisconsin-based Duncan Solutions signed on with Atlanta to take over the city's parking services. The agreement spawned PARKatlanta, which yields the city nearly $6 million each year in exchange for the private company's license to cite parking scofflaws. Last year, according to Department of Public Works Director Richard Mendoza, the company issued approximately 200,000 tickets. 
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?Next year, PARKatlanta's seven-year contract is scheduled to end. Mayor Kasim Reed has said he's not likely to renew the contract, telling Creative Loafing in 2009 that ending the deal would be his "last gift" to Atlanta residents.
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? As Reed's office prepares to request new proposals for parking enforcement, the Atlanta City Council's transportation committee wants to hear what residents would like to see when it comes to reading meters and writing citations.
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? At City Hall on Wednesday, during the first of a trio of public hearings between PARKatlanta and the community, city officials conveyed how their constituents felt about the private parking company.
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? Atlanta City Councilwoman Mary Norwood said she'd received 250 emails responding to the city's call for input — 12 emails showed a "favorable opinion" of PARKatlanta, she said. Councilwoman Felicia Moore also said she's been hearing plenty of issues — think hundreds more emails complaining about PARKatlanta — of meter malfunctions, wrongful ticketing, and impolite customer service. She said a lot of the public input she'd received called for better oversight on whatever new system guards the city's lots and garages.
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? One by one, members of the public gave suggestions for a better system — one resident wondered if income inequality could be taken into account when deciding how much to charge for a metered spot — and in many cases, aired grievances.
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???? Johnny Martinez, owner of Edgewood Avenue's Joystick Gamebar, said he's been waiting years to hear back about fought parking tickets. He thinks PARKatlanta's citation habits could be scaring away business. 
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? "We have people come into our bar who aren't looking to spend a lot of money," he said. "Wrongful ticketing discourages them from coming back down." 
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? Mike Boyle, the founder of bootparkatlanta.com, questioned the company's transparency practices. He thought data collected by PARKatlanta should be made accessible to the public. Boyle's self-explanatory website has collected a few hundred signatures petitioning to disband PARKatlanta. He said he attended Wednesday's hearing to ensure what comes next falls under the watchful eyes of more stringent auditing.
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? Boyle thinks the city should be open-minded about considering outside vendors, but the "contract has to be structured correctly. There's enough bad blood between citizens and businesses and PARKatlanta."
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? But state Sen. Vincent Fort, D-Atlanta, isn't interested in seeing another third-party parking service patrolling Atlanta roads anymore. Fort announced plans Wednesday to introduce a constitutional amendment prohibiting outsourcing for a parking enforcement program. 
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? "PARKatlanta is predatory," he said. "All the things that have been said tonight are saying PARKatlanta are preying on citizens of Atlanta and visitors to the city. Parking enforcement...should be in the hands of the people we can hold accountable. I don't hear anybody hold PARKatlanta accountable very much."
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? PARKatlanta's Vice President of Operations Anderson Moore did not answer Creative Loafing's inquiry asking whether or not it will push to stick around for another contract, saying only it would "look forward to attending these meetings and supporting the city in any way we can." However, he told Max Blau of Atlanta Magazine that the company would like to keep writing tickets.  
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? The next public hearing is scheduled for Dec. 10 at 6:30 p.m. at Inman Middle School. Feel free to roll on over or shoot your inquiries to the city via email or Twitter.