reputation conceptual meterBy Larry J. Cohen, CAPP

My parking authority has been approved to take over parking enforcement starting in the new year. “Congratulations or I’m sorry are in order….”

For most of us, community complaints revolve around either ticketing too much or not enough. So what is one of our biggest public concerns? I heard it referred to in a meeting as reputation management—managing the public perception (perception is reality, right?) of how well we go about doing our business but possibly resulting in potential social and media attacks along the way.

With these new responsibilities, our mission will be to enhance the customer experience by providing a one-stop shop for everything parking in our city.

Currently, the process is fractured because the police write tickets, the treasury department handles payments, the district justices handle appeals, and our authority maintains and collects from meters. When someone has a parking issue, the default is to call us. We will work to provide a consistent and more seamless process for the community, whether in on-street enforcement or managing the residential parking permit program.

We will seek input on what works and what can be done better as we go through the implementation phase. We will invest financially in the program, with new “green” vehicles, new enforcement hardware and software, and an online payment and an appeal process with online and in-office photo verification for customer convenience and clarification.

We know we will do the job more efficiently and consistently—our police need to pull parking enforcement officers to handle other emergency duties while our main focus is parking. But we are very cognizant of the potential public reaction and we are preparing for it proactively.

I’ll keep you posted as we make our way into the new year and the new world of enforcement along with reputation management. Any comments or suggestions are always appreciated from those who have already blazed this path.

Larry J. Cohen, CAPP, is executive director of the Lancaster (Pa.) Parking Authority.