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Attorney Questions Borough's Authority to Issue Parking Tickets

Dante Bradley is fighting some of the 1,400 citations the borough issued in June.

Phoenixville-based attorney Dante Bradley and a group of agitated Bridge Street shop owners are fighting the borough on many of the 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 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.

Alex P April 15, 2013 at 10:37 PM
my comment about corruption came from the original story, the borough had the district court send out over 1,400 tickets in one day in June, many of which dating back almost a year. The statute of limitations on prosecution is one month. They valued each citation at $66.45. that's a total just over $93,000. A safe estimate would be that 1,200 of those tickets were past the one month statute of limitation. which means they overcharged and collected approximately $75-80,000 in revenue that they had no legal right to. And did so with the threat of government and prosecution. Granted everyone could have looked up this information and fought it but they didn't so that money is lost. But that is the ONLY way the borough will turn a profit this past fiscal year. And if you can tell me that collecting money under false pretenses and without legal grounds doesn't qualify as corruption then there's a problem. And in my opinion if everyone knew this as well as my experiences with the parking office in court over several occasions and appeals and the patch were to do another story the parking situation in phoenixville could become the forefront of council meetings from here on out.
harry finster April 15, 2013 at 11:37 PM
Alex, I think you're a little misguided on much of the information and the statute of limitations etc but I won't really argue about it. The start of the parking system was definitely not very well conceived and it set a bad precedent but the overall system will eventually work. People always feel like something has been taken away from them when parking is instituted like a constitutional right. It's really kind of funny but it's just parking and the it's the borough trying to do the best thing for their local community. If you don't like the way things are done then the best I can tell you is to be much more vocal in meetings and don't give up. Or even better is you can run for local government and do something about it that will make sense for the entire community and not just the people that live near the downtown in very close proximity. I think you understanding of local government is slightly skewed and this isn't Watergate. Again, the best thing to do is run for a local seat and enact your own vision and lead us in the right direction. Being on a local government doesn't make you a politician. It makes you involved in your community in a very big capacity that is very important. Be part of the change or you'll just have to accept the changes that people who take that initiative themselves make and some you won't like very much. But again these are just regular people trying to help their community. If you have evidence otherwise then present it.
Alex P April 15, 2013 at 11:59 PM
I highly doubt the parking office would allow me to look at their records to verify my information. As much as you may think my views are skewed i've probably had more dealings with the parking office than anyone in phoenixville both with and without a lawyer. my numbers may not be grounded, however the fact they did send out citations that were past the statute of limitations cannot be argued it's a matter of court record. I had close to 40 tickets in my first go around with them and only until i went to court and presented that statute did they withdraw those citations. As much as it may seem like a big conspiracy theory it's really not and it's grounded in facts whether people can see or understand that or not. and as much as you can say i'm misguided for defending myself, you, yourself are a bit misguided for believing that even a local municipality like this one isn't big enough for some form of corruption or extortion. It's the basis sentimentality that when someone is appointed a position of power they can abuse it no matter how small a position it is. It may not seem so but they had sent out letters they described as a "grace period" to pay months before actually submitting to the court though they were already past the statute. If you do your research you'll learn what the state has to say and the state law trumps local code. And lets face it speaking up in council meetings doesn't do anything when you're speaking up against their form of making money.
Alex P April 16, 2013 at 12:00 AM
As you said the overall parking system "will EVENTUALLY work". if the borough had done their homework it wouldn't need to eventually work. They waste the courts time with paperwork and citations without giving people an option to contest a ticket before it goes in front of a judge and additional costs are added wasting more taxpayer money to do so. There is no check, no balance to the system on this level. Speaking out at meetings doesn't do anything unless the people on the council at least listen, and they are not always so open minded to both sides of the coin.
Ike April 16, 2013 at 02:18 AM
Go to a MALL.....Free parking and cheaper everything.......

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