Meter expiring on PPA amnesty program

People wait in long lines during the last day of Parking Amnesty Program at the City Of Philadelphia Bureau of Administrative Adjudication office on 9th & Filbert Philadelphia. Monday, April 30, 2018. JOSE F. MORENO / Staff Photographer

On Monday morning, after waiting in line for hours, Katrell Garvin walked out of the Philadelphia Parking Authority office on Filbert Street and immediately lit a cigarette.

“They’re doing me dirty,” said Garvin, 31, of West Philly.

He had only one ticket to fight, after accepting an invitation to make amends on old parking tickets as part of a limited-time amnesty program for scofflaws.

His 2006 ticket was a $75 charge for blocking a driveway.

He was hoping to make the ticket go away. But counting administrative fees, he wound up having to pay $81.

“For one ticket?” he asked.

Garvin was among hundreds in line Monday morning, the last day of the two-month amnesty program. The line ran down Filbert Street from 11th to Ninth Streets, then snaked up Ninth to Arch. Some of the earliest last-minute bargain hunters arrived as early as 4 a.m., waiting to be heard.

As of lunchtime, the line snaked around the building twice.

They lugged milk crates or beach chairs to rest their legs, brought speakers that played slow jams. All were hoping to get past the doors by day’s end.

City officials wouldn’t disclose an up-to-date tally. But two weeks into the program, 2,647 scofflaws had seen their parking sins forgiven through the PPA’s amnesty program that started March 1.

According to Mike Dunn, a spokesman for Mayor Kenney, the amnesty offer — the first of its kind for the PPA — had collected almost $155,000 as of March 16.

Dunn said updated figures would not be released until after the program is over: “Staff is very focused right now on just processing those who are waiting in line and that is their priority.

He also said that while the Parking Amnesty office closes at 6 p.m. Monday, “we will work well past that time to see everyone.”

In a news release issued Monday, Councilwoman Cindy Bass called for a deadline extension.

“The line to enroll in the parking amnesty program at the Philadelphia Parking Authority near 10th and Filbert streets has consistently stretched several blocks long since the program started in March,” Bass said. “This is a testament to the high demand for the program, the relative success of getting folks signed up for parking amnesty, and to the program’s ability to raise revenue for the Philadelphia.”

To qualify for amnesty, the driver must first pay off all tickets incurred between Jan. 1, 2013, and Dec. 31, 2017. The program does not cover traffic or moving violations. Outstanding tickets for parking violations before 2013, in most cases were wrapped up with a $50 administrative fee.

Outstanding towing and storage fees dating before 2015 could also be pared down. Offenders are required to pay 30 percent of the total amount due, and the rest will be forgiven.

A recent audit of the agency found it was owed $76.8 million in uncollected parking fines since 2012.

The amnesty program has received mixed reviews from the offenders.

Isaac Singleton, of Southwest Philly, had been in line since 5:30 a.m., and about 10 a.m. was still waiting to get inside.

A few minutes later he was feeling upbeat: “I got rid of about $1,000 in fines.”