Wichita averages 20,000 parking tickets a year
02/28/2013 12:03 PM
02/28/2013 12:03 PM
The city of Wichita collected nearly $2.7 million in parking tickets the past five years, mostly within blocks of City Hall.
A majority of the tickets were written downtown near the Sedgwick County Courthouse and Century II between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. weekdays, according to an Eagle analysis of city database records.
The database, obtained through the Kansas Open Records Act, also showed thousands of tickets were written for illegal parking at or near the terminal of Mid-Continent Airport.
The city issues more than 20,000 parking tickets each year. Fines range from $10 for meter violations to $100 for parking in a zone reserved for people who are disabled.
A pair of Wichita divorce lawyers received more parking tickets than any other individuals and spent $1,000 a year or more on fines.
Both of the lawyers admitted being a little embarrassed by their parking tickets. But they acknowledged they rack up the fines through frequent trips to the courthouse to appear at the domestic law docket hearings representing their clients.
"One of my New Year's resolutions was to get fewer parking tickets," said Suzanne Dwyer.
She received 312 tickets and $8,220 in fines over five years, according to the database.
"I think I may have put some of the meter maids' kids through college," Dwyer said.
Most of the tickets were in the name of her husband, but Dwyer took responsibility for them.
"My husband insists on having his name first on all the registrations, so they usually end up in his name," Dwyer said.
Elaine Reddick, another family lawyer, had the second-most number of parking tickets. Reddick had 169 tickets and $4,105 in fines.
Both Dwyer and Reddick say they always promptly pay their fines.
"There aren't always places in the parking garage or places on the meters, and we have to be at the courthouse for two docket calls a day, in the morning and afternoon," Reddick said. "We're making five to six trips a week."
Court proceedings also are unpredictable, Reddick and Dwyer said.
"You could go in for a hearing at 9:30 and not get out until noon, and you can't leave court to go put more money in the parking meters," Reddick said.
That the two lawyers led the parking ticket count didn't surprise Terri Moses, deputy chief of the Wichita Police Department. Moses oversees field services operations, which includes the Ambassadors, who write tickets downtown.
"That's not really surprising because they are downtown a lot to work and don't have parking spaces like the public employees do," Moses said.
The top locations for tickets, meanwhile, are reflections of complaints and safety concerns, Moses said.
"We handle tickets just like we do any other area of the department — they are complaint-based and need-based," Moses said.
For instance, if a business complains of repeated parking violations, Moses said the Ambassadors, who work out of Patrol South, will address those concerns.
More than half of parking tickets over the past five years were issued in the area around Broadway and Douglas. That encompasses Century II, the State Office Building, the Epic Center, City Hall and the County Courthouse. More than one in five were written near the State Office Building and Century II.
"Downtown has a pretty high concentration of business and population during the weekdays," Moses said.
The block most likely to get a parking ticket was the 200 block of South Broadway, where nearly 8,000 tickets were issued during the past five years.
Next was the airport, with more than 6,400 tickets.
During weekends, most parking tickets were written at the airport or near Second and Mosley in the Old Town entertainment district.
People in rental cars received about 100 tickets each of the five years. Of those, 320 were written to cars of Enterprise Leasing.
"In most situations, we have a ticket and citations office, and we refer tickets to those," said Bryan Deboes of the Enterprise airport office. "They will then determine if the car was being rented on those dates, or if it was with an employee."
If the car had a rental contract, Deboes said, the company will notify the people under the lease and make arrangements for them to pay the ticket.