City

The Philadelphia Parking Authority Is Cutting Car Owners a Break. For Once.

At first glance, we assumed these flyers were a hoax.

philadelphia parking authority ppa notice

The Philadelphia Parking Authority has been handing out courtesy notices like this one to car owners. (Photo by Caroline Cunningham)

The Philadelphia Parking Authority has been quietly enacting a policy that makes us wonder if the agency isn’t as bad as we once thought.

It turns out that Philadelphia Parking Authority agents — yes, those same ones who lie in wait so they can pounce on your car with a $36 ticket the moment that your meter runs out — have been handing out warning letters to car owners whose vehicles inspection stickers have expired.

“The inspection on your vehicle has EXPIRED!” reads the “Courtesy Notice” found under windshield wipers in town. “Please renew your inspection ASAP to avoid a $41 parking violation. Thank you for complying with this important safety regulation and helping to keep our streets safe.”

There’s even a note at the bottom telling the recipient to “Have a Great Day!”

Naturally, when I first heard about these courtesy notices, I was skeptical. After all, the Philadelphia Parking Authority isn’t exactly known for showing mercy, as anybody who has had the misfortune to visit the impound lot knows all too well. So the whole thing seemed a little fishy. I mean, “Have a Great Day”? Really?

But this is one occasion where the Philadelphia Parking Authority actually does come out on the right side of the battle between good and evil.

According to Philadelphia Parking Authority spokesperson Marty O’Rourke, the agency debuted these courtesy notices over the last year. O’Rourke says it was the idea of executive director Clarena Tolson, who took over in 2016 after a major sexual harassment scandal in the Philadelphia Parking Authority.

Under the new policy, car owners get a 15-day grace period following the expiration date on their inspection sticker. (But note that the Philadelphia Police Department has no such grace period and can still issue their own tickets for expired inspection.)

“It’s just our way of giving a second chance,” O’Rourke told Philly Mag.

The Philadelphia Parking Authority can certainly afford the accommodation. In one month alone earlier this year, its agents handed out more than $8.2 million in tickets to drivers, which is a more than $1 million increase over the same month last year — and that’s not counting booting, towing, and those nasty impound “storage fees.”

So thanks, Philadelphia Parking Authority, for cutting us drivers a little slack. Maybe we’ll throw out a little less profanity the next time we’re screaming at you after you hit us with a $51 ticket for being an inch too far into a loading zone. But probably not.