Phoenixville-based attorney Dante Bradley and a group of agitated Bridge Street shop owners are fighting the borough on many of the 1,400 parking citations it issued en masse on June 8, after the second of its amnesty periods for unpaid parking tickets expired.
Bradley said his intention is to mount a two-pronged challenge on behalf of his six clients: he’ll first attempt to undermine the borough’s ticketing authority, then, if that fails, pick apart the individual tickets—of which his clients have amassed $6,000 worth.
“There are a number of irregularities that I think will make a lot of these citations unenforceable,” the lawyer said.
When the borough dissolved its parking authority in 2010, Bradley said it may have forfeited the right to issue parking citations.
“The borough instituted a temporary parking enforcement officer, who’s effectively become permanent…and since 2010 there’s been a nebulous enforcement officer instead of a parking authority,” he said, adding that this is highly unusual in Pennsylvania.
He admitted that because parking law in the state is an underdeveloped legal branch—“Usually when you get a ticket, it’s more expensive to fight it than it is to pay it,” Bradley said, “and so few cases go to court”—it’s unclear how persuasive this challenge will be. There’s no precedent for it.
Phoenixville finance director Steve Nease is skeptical of Bradley’s claims. He said the borough was well within its rights to issue the June citations.
“Our position is that we believe we have the authority to ticket. If [Bradley] disagrees, that’s his opinion,” the borough’s de facto parking manager told Patch.
Even if the ticketing is legal though, Bradley said it’s bad policy. He said the concern animating his clients, and underwriting the legal action they’ve taken, is that the two hour parking limit on Bridge Street is hurting their bottom line. Several restaurant and bar owners have told him they’ve suffered “a marked decrease in their revenue,” since the two hour parking rules were instituted.
“Some of the restaurant owners have gotten letters from patrons saying they’ve come in for dinner, had a wonderful time and a great meal, and come out and found a parking ticket on their car when they left. And it instantly sours the meal,” he said.
“And they’re never coming back to the borough to eat or to shop.”
Nease scoffed at this logic. He admitted that while the two hour parking limit may have an adverse effect on some businesses, the rules are hardly monolithically opposed by downtown shops. He said that high volume, quick turnover businesses like Save More and the Philly Pretzel Factory benefit from the parking regulations. For the rest, there are lots that charge a dollar an hour for long-term parking.
“You can’t make everybody happy,” he shrugged.