Manassas Park is taking new steps to enforce the city’s parking laws.
The city has a lack of public parking, especially in the area of Old Centreville Road, a side street that runs parallel to the city’s main avenue, Route 28.
People who don’t live along Old Centreville Road park their cars there, leaving residents to battle it out with out-of-towners for a parking space.
Now residents are demanding spaces in that area be reserved only for residents.
Another concern: non-residents who park their cars in Manassas Park overnight are doing so without paying the city’s personal property taxes on vehicles.
Historically, the city’s police officers have handled parking enforcement; however, this has put a strain on public safety efforts as it pulls resources away from other law enforcement areas.
“We’re using our patrol officers for that function instead of parking enforcement officers, and we want our police to focus on crime and traffic enforcement and other things versus just spending a lot of time on parking,” said Manassas Park City Manager Laszlo Palko.
To address these issues, the city’s Governing Body is establishing a parking enforcement division for the first time in its 64-year history.
It has been using city decals given out by the city to those who pay their vehicle tax to identify and ticket the unregistered vehicles. The Governing Body reestablished the vehicle decal program in 2019. Residents display a decal sticker on their car’s windshield to confirm that they paid the required license fees.
The city took a two-year break from issuing the stickers as part of a cost-saving move. However, officials noticed a decline in tax revenues and reinstated the program.
Commercial vehicles will also be banned from parking on the streets.
There are two newly-created positions within the Manassas Park Police Department to provide continuous parking enforcement–a Parking Enforcement Official (PO), and a Parking Ticket Accounts Receivable Manager (AR).
The Parking Enforcement Official will be in charge of patrolling the city and issuing tickets for parking violations, such as lack of registration. They will work with technology that will actively scan license plates and a specialty parking enforcement vehicle, said Palko.
The Parking Ticket Accounts Receivable Manager will work behind a desk and prepare and process parking ticket transactions, accounts receivable, maintaining records and files, and performing general police administration, said Palko.
The benefits, as listed in the Manassas Park Governing Body Agenda on March 2, 2021, are:
- Reducing burden on Patrol Officers
- Flexibility to proactively enforce throughout the day
- Increase compliance by having active enforcement serve as a deterrent
- Increase payment rate among those cited for a violation
- Improve AR level reporting to City Treasurer and Finance Department
- Flexibility to select the most efficient and cost-effective means to enforce
The city will also use license plate reader technology in its quest to root out illegal parking. Manassas Park contracted with ComSonics, a Virginia-based technology company that will provide Automatic License Plate Recognition (ALPR) devices. Affixed to patrol cars and in use by police agencies for more than a decade, the ALPR’s scan license plates and determine whether or not that a vehicle is registered in the city.
Anyone with a parking violation will receive a parking ticket and additional penalties if it is not paid on time. This includes getting their car towed or a wheel lock on their car until they pay off their ticket.
Residents can pay for their tickets through a payment portal, which is located on the homepage of the Manassas Park website.
The city says the short-term benefit of these solutions is showing proactiveness in parking enforcement to the residents. The long-term benefits are fewer parking violations and more compliance with the parking laws, and more parking available for the city’s residents.