(Photo: Dan Barton)

(Photo: Dan Barton)

Citywide, police and parking enforcement staff are on pace to double the number of violations handed out last year for expired meters and other non-moving violations. Meanwhile the apparent ticket blitz has some in one neighborhood complaining of overzealous enforcement.

“This year it’s been off the charts,” said Karen Clark-Adin, owner of the Bop to Tottom gift shop on Wall Street. “I have customers apologizing that they haven’t been in in a while, but they say the parking enforcement is just so aggressive.”

Parking is a perennial issue in the Uptown Kingston business district where visitors to the County Office Building and the county courthouse, as well as workers and clients at dozens of small professional services offices, swell the neighborhood’s daytime population and make prime parking spaces a rare commodity at times. Another constant — complaints about parking meter enforcement. But those complaints have increased noticeably since the city hired a new enforcement officer dedicated to Uptown. Parkers complain of tickets written at 9:01 a.m., one minute after the meter rules go into effect, or enforcement staff staking out meters with a few minutes left on them so they can write a citation. Clark-Adin said she was written up while unloading merchandise into her shop from a car with the blinkers on. Carol Galione, who’s worked Uptown for nearly two decades, said she’s received about 10 tickets so far this year despite her New Year’s resolution to be more vigilant about feeding the meters.

“It just feels excessive and punitive,” said Galione. “I know the city gets a lot of revenue out of it, but I would love for them to find a more forward-thinking way of getting that revenue.”

Numbers provided by City Comptroller John Tuey bear out anecdotal evidence of stepped up enforcement. In all of 2013, parking enforcement officers and city cops (who do not enforce parking-meter regulations but are empowered to issue tickets) wrote 10,330 parking tickets of all types, bringing in $229,844 in fines. So far this year, 10,840 parking tickets have been issued and $190,995 collected.

‘Doing their job’

Alderman Brian Seche (D-Ward 2) represents the business district on the Common Council. Seche said that he believes the stepped-up enforcement stems from a move last year to dedicate a parking enforcement officer to patrolling the neighborhood. The shift, Seche said, means that enforcement officers spend less time traveling between the Downtown, Midtown and Uptown metered areas and more time writing tickets.

“They’re out there doing their job,” said Seche. “I don’t know what else can be said about it.”

Galione, and a couple of hundred like-minded supporters, do have something to say about it. Earlier this month, she placed petitions in a number of Uptown businesses seeking redress on the parking issue. The petitions claim that Uptown residents and business owners feel “targeted” by the parking enforcement and that the ticket blitz is hurting the neighborhood economy.

“Merchants are concerned that over the fact that customers will stop shopping in Uptown; instead flocking to shopping centers that provide free parking,” the petition reads.

The petition goes on to ask the city to seek alternative means to replace the revenue and calls for a town meeting to discuss the issue. Galione said that she had received 250 signatures from sheets from one Wall Street business alone — Hudson Coffee Traders — and expects many more from other businesses in the district.