The Atlanta City Council on Monday approved a controversial ordinance that raises fines for motorists who leave their cars parked at meter after their allotted time has expired.
The vote — 8-4 — follows several weeks of discussion and debate regarding the unpopular measure.
Several residents spoke out against the measure, urging the council to vote it down because they said PARKatlanta, the Milwaukee-based company contracted to enforce parking rules, wrote tickets illegally, double-ticketed or had misleading signage.
One woman recounted how a PARKatlanta official ticketed her as she waited for another motorist to exit their parking space.
Nevertheless, the Atlanta City Council approved.
The measure is fueled by the city's efforts to recoup about $4 million it will not receive after an arbitrator ruled PARKatlanta did not have to pay nearly 75 percent of what it was originally contracted to pay to the city.
The arbitrator's decision followed the city council's move last year to restrict the Milwaukee-based company’s operations with a moratorium on reduced hours and new meters.
That $4 million difference would be enough to fund 50 new Atlanta police officers.
Councilman Alex Wan, whose district includes parts of East Atlanta and Virginia-Highland patches, voted against the measure saying the concerns and complaints his office has received regarding PARKatlanta warranted foregoing that revenue until both sides "got it right."
The legislation, drafted by at-large Atlanta City Councilman H. Lamar Willis, raises the initial penalty for parking at an expired meter by $10 to $35.
If the ticket is not paid within 14 days, the fee doubles to $70. And if it's still not fully paid within 45 days, the fine increases to $95.
Since PARKatlanta began issuing tickets nearly 31 months ago, more than 150,000 unpaid tickets have run up a total of $7.4 million.
The measure will not be applied retroactively.
The fine increases only apply to tickets issued for expired parking at metered spaces, not to violators of residential permit parking in neighborhoods that have them, such as Inman Park or Atkins Park.