ATLANTA - Atlanta City Councilman Kwanza Hall told Channel 2 Action News the city should tear up its contract with contractor Park Atlanta and find another company to enforce and collect tickets for parking violations.
"The pain and suffering it's caused our citizens, the time and energy spent by city staff, the calls that my office and many other council offices have fielded, is far greater than $8 million," said Hall.
Hall estimates the cost of canceling the contract would be $8 million, including more than $5 million that Park Atlanta paid to the city from its parking violation collections last year. He said part of that expense could be covered with proceeds from the sale of City Hall East to a developer.
"We could use money from the City Hall sale and our reserves and go ahead and cancel it and look for a partner," said Hall.
The councilman said 70 percent of the city's 2,500 parking meters are in his council district. He often receives complaints from drivers confused by parking meter instructions, signs and space designations. But complaints also come from business owners who say aggressive meter readers are driving off customers.
Channel 2's Tom Regan spoke with the owner of None's Bar and Deli on Auburn Avenue.
"It's been a headache for the neighborhood for sure. We need folks to feel comfortable coming here, that they can get in and get out gracefully and not deal with the fracas of tickets," said Matt Ruppert.
Regan contacted an executive with Duncan Solutions, the Milwaukee-based company that owns Park Atlanta. He said he was disappointed with the sentiments expressed by Hall.
"We try diligently to continually work with the city to try to bring the best possible program to citizens that we can, and we will continue to do that," said Anderson Moore, Duncan Solutions vice president of operations.
Park Atlanta has come under harsh criticism from drivers over booting or mix-ups in issuing citations.
"I think it's kind of unfair, especially when I hear a lot of people are getting booted and having to pay extra money, and spaces are not clearly marked," said driver Ginger Jirik.
Channel 2 contacted Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed for his reaction on the prospect of canceling Park Atlanta's contract, but a representative said Reed had no comment.