Councilmen Bobby Henon and Bill Green introduced legislation yesterday that would save many Philadelphians an untold number of headaches.
The bill would allow city residents to contest parking tickets, littering citations and all other code violations through registered mail or e-mail and other electronic methods, rather than going to court and arguing the case before a judge. “We wanted to make it as easy for someone to appeal a ticket as it is for the Philadelphia Parking Authority to give one,” Green said.
“An issue I hear a lot in my office is that people feel they were issued a ticket improperly, but can’t afford to take a day off to go to court, whether it’s in lost wages or time,” he said. “They end up paying the fine because it costs less than missing a day of work, not because they were in the wrong. This gives them the ability to stand up for themselves when they feel it is right.”
Henon described similar experiences with his constituents. “Both of these bills require the city and its agencies, including the parking authority, to provide alternative methods for citizens to contest and challenge the validity of a citation without disrupting their jobs or lives,” he said in a statement.
“The current process for in-person hearings is onerous, not only in my district for seniors and the disabled, and any person who has a full-time job, it’s an unnecessary burden for any Philadelphian.”
“Hopefully, it will make the system more efficient overall, as well,” Green said. The bill, if passed, would likely not go into effect until next fall.
City vs. SEPTA
The occasional infighting between SEPTA and the city flared up again Thursday when Councilman Wilson Goode Jr. introduced legislation that would allow a committee to investigate what properties belong to the city but are being used by SEPTA to generate advertising dollars.
“We need to consider all city infrastructure for lease or sale,” Goode Jr. said Thursday. “SEPTA sold the naming rights to AT&T station for $3 million. That may be some of our money. SEPTA may have a lot of our money.”
“The city provides them with a $50 to $60 million subsidy, which is mandated, but we don’t have to give it to them all at once,” he said. “I believe we should withhold a portion of that subsidy until we have an honest conversation about the relationship between the city and SEPTA.”