Citation price increase plan raises assault worries

Higher prices for parking citations could raise more than money — it could increase attacks against parking control officers, a group of workers told Muni’s board of directors.

Despite the concerns of violence, the board Tuesday unanimously approved the department’s budget plan for the upcoming two years.

Part of the approved budget includes a plan to add $10 to all parking citations under $90 that are not capped. The move projected to net the department $27 million over the next two years, could also further endanger the employees who issue the costly tickets, according to parking control advocates.

In a city with a history of physical attacks against parking control officers, the new fines could exacerbate the problem further, said James Bryant of the Services Employees International Union, which represents the parking control officers.

“The PCOs have serious concerns for their safety because of these fare increases,” Bryant said. “The MTA needs to make sure these concerns are taken into consideration.”

In 2006 there were 28 attacks against parking control officers, in 2005 there were 17. In 2007, state Assemblymember Mark Leno, whose district includes San Francisco, helped pass a resolution that would increase penalties and fines for assaults against parking control officers.

Antonio Parra, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency’s director of enforcement and security, said the concerns of the parking control officers are legitimate.

“Preventing physical harm to our employees is a paramount concern of the department,” said Parra. “We are working with the police to make sure they’re aware about the safety issues involving parking control officers, but the main factor in this problem is citizen behavior. Attacking someone for giving you a ticket is not acceptable.”

The abuse is not just physical, according to Bryant. He said parking control officers are subject to bitter verbal attacks each day by drivers.

The department’s budget, projected at $786.8 million for the 2008-09 fiscal year, and $820.4 million for the following fiscal year, will be submitted to Mayor Gavin Newsom for approval April 28, according to SFMTA documents.

wreisman@examiner.com

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