MU campus dense in parking citations

Published 2013-03-27 19:22 in The Marquette Tribune

Justin Peters parked on 16th Street in front of Cramer Hall two weeks ago. His plan: to deliver cupcakes to two of his favorite professors.

“I just wanted to run in and leave,” said Peters, a senior in the College of Health Sciences. “I was going to be quick, so I didn’t pay the meter. But when I came out two minutes later, there was already a ticket waiting on my windshield. I couldn’t believe it.”

Peters, who collected more than 10 tickets during his time at Marquette, has a typical experience with parking violations on campus. In 2012 alone, parking enforcement officers issued 15,390 parking citations on campus, making it the most heavily cited school campus in the city.

Marquette is located in one of Milwaukee’s densest areas for parking citations, along with the east side and areas downtown, especially those close to Lake Michigan.

The Tribune analyzed a list of every parking citation issued in Milwaukee in 2012 provided by the Milwaukee Data Initiative, a group that advocates for the release of data collected by the city. Two computer programs categorized the 743,832 citations issued, amounting to 1.2 tickets per resident.

The Tribune then isolated citations issued on campus — defined as between 10th and 20th streets from Kilbourn to Clybourn avenues. Though the data include occasional misspellings of city street names, manual and automated checks showed enough accuracy to provide a representative view into one year of Marquette parking.

The result: a list of the places most often ticketed on campus, the most common violations and, with reference to a list of fines through the Milwaukee Department of Public Works, $363,146 – the total number of fines issued on campus in 2012.

In 1995, the city earned $9.2 million from parking citations. Over the past 20 years, that number has skyrocketed. In 2000, the task of overseeing parking enforcement switched from the Milwaukee Police Department to DPW. The number of parking checkers increased from 40 to 65 and parking citation revenue nearly tripled from 1995 — totaling $25 million in 2010.

TICKET TRAPS ON CAMPUS

For those interested in keeping their parking tickets at a minimum, the Tribune also identified specific blocks where ticketing rates were the highest.

The single most-ticketed block on campus is the 700 block of 13th St., which runs between Schroeder and Abbottsford residence halls. Two-hour parking limits are enforced between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. on the block, contributing 698 violations of the total 1,102 citations issued on that block in 2012.

Just one block to the east sits the second most-ticketed campus block — the 700 block of 12th St. in front of the Al McGuire Center. The block is lined with parking meters that contributed 985 citations to the block’s total 1,073 tickets.

The top two blocks alone collected an average of about six tickets a day from parking enforcement.

But that is nothing compared to the most ticketed street in all of Milwaukee in 2012, which is located one block off campus: the 700 block of 9th St. near the Wisconsin Club, the Milwaukee Public Library and Marquette’s Straz Tower. This single block was the location of 3,658 tickets, averaging more than 10 citations a day.

Representatives from the DPW did not respond to reporters’ requests in time for this story. Past statements by the institution, however, made it clear that the department denies targeting campuses or any specific group of people for tickets.

MOST COMMON VIOLATIONS ON CAMPUS

Meter parking violations are by far the most ticketed offense on campus, accounting for more than 50 percent of citations. Meters are a common feature of many of the most ticketed addresses on campus, many of which are still coin-operated.

“The coin meters are way more annoying,” Emma Weber, a senior in the College of Health Sciences, said. “Who carries around a pocket full of quarters? Most of the time you don’t have enough and you either have to find another spot or just chance it.”

Weber was ticketed several times by the meters near the intersection of Wells and 16th streets. She also was ticketed several times outside her apartment complex on the 2000 block of W. Wisconsin Ave. for exceeding the two-hour street parking limit — the second most-commonly ticketed violation on campus.

Night parking violations also act as a big contributor, bringing in the third-largest amount of tickets on campus.

“Night parking is probably the most obvious thing you can do wrong,” Peters said. “They can just look down the street and know you’re not supposed to be there. They’re really strict in the winter too, for snow plows to be able to get though.”

On campus, however, night parking made up a much smaller portion of total tickets than the city as a whole. Parking on the street between 2 a.m. and 6 a.m. without a permit or on the wrong side of the street accounted for 14 percent of tickets near Marquette’s campus. Night violations for the city as a whole accounted for 43 percent of total tickets in Milwaukee.

Other common offenses include parking closer than four feet to an alley or driveway, parking prohibited by an official sign and improperly displayed or missing, registration.

CONTESTING TICKETS

The majority of fines issued in Milwaukee and on campus range from $20-$30, with additional charges made for late payments. But just because a ticket is written, though, does not mean the driver will end up paying.

In 2011, Milwaukee canceled more than 38,000 parking tickets that were found to be written in error. Clear instances of mistakes on the city’s behalf, like a broken parking meter or night parking permits that were simply not visible, can be voided with a simple phone call.

When things are debatable, it becomes more difficult for drivers to contest citations. Drivers must schedule an appearance with parking citation review manager at the Police Administration Building downtown. If an agreement cannot be reached, drivers can schedule a municipal court appearance.

But for many cases, the effort to contest a ticket is not worth the money saved.

“It’s easier just to pay up in the end,” said Peters, who never seriously considered contesting his campus tickets. “It’s not worth the fight.”