Comments on: DDA Parking Enforcement Prospects Dim it's like being there Tue, 16 Sep 2014 04:56:38 +0000 hourly 1 By: Steve Bean Steve Bean Mon, 30 Aug 2010 14:28:19 +0000 I think that the (off-street parking availability) data that Fred was referring to are available through a link on this page: [link].

What the DDA still doesn’t appear very interested in is the availability of those spaces over time. While there’s value in paying attention to revenues and number of hourly patrons, the untapped opportunity for management is in the unused spaces. (Similarly, AATA could track empty seats in addition to ridership.)

By: Newcombe Clark Newcombe Clark Mon, 30 Aug 2010 10:30:47 +0000 It’s of course unfortunate when communication between any governmental body breaks down with its citizens. Especially to the point where “a bad taste” is left in one’s mouth and especially if that impacts the ability or desire for future collaboration with that body.
The DDA, and it’s revenue, it’s budget, and it’s data, is and should be publicly accessible and accountable in line with our mission. With that however comes an implied level of mutual responsibility, respect, and trust. It takes effort and humility on everyone’s part to move beyond those times in the past when these basics covenants have been strained and/or broken. It is my understanding that the data referenced in link referenced has since been provided. Correct me if I’m wrong.

We extend again the branch.

Here is a link to the current data and reports we have online:

If something is missing that you would like to see posted there, please let us know.

By: Rod Johnson Rod Johnson Sun, 29 Aug 2010 00:53:21 +0000 I can’t help thinking that reading Fred’s link above would help Mr. Clark understand the problem better. This isn’t about complex analyses, it’s about merely making existing (and published) data more easily accessible. This was one of the DDA’s more paranoiac episodes.

By: Fred Posner Fred Posner Sat, 28 Aug 2010 21:22:31 +0000 Newcombe,

1. The data was posted on your website and blocked by your organization.

2. No intention of partnering with the DDA. Too much of a bad taste in my mouth. I offered free assistance, published source code, and was blocked and told I had a motive of profit. (If that was the case, I’m not sure how it’s a bad thing… but that’s neither here nor there)

3. Data is not fun or manipulative. Data is data. Public data is owned by the public. Ann Arbor Parking information in garages owned by the public can in no way be owned by anyone other than the public. Until we can agree that this is public data, we cannot move forward.

4. Data is not subjective. Conclusions can be subjective and data can be the one thing that disproves incorrect conclusions. The flip side to not having the data is to trust the source. Has the DDA and/or Republic Parking earned that trust? Should they ever be completely trusted at face value? It’s public resources. The public’s information.

5. In regards to:

“You want some of our data to help the DDA do it’s job better?”

That’s the problem, isn’t it. My belief is that it’s public data, public property, and not yours. I want the DDA to embrace the principle of public data and chant “Raw Data Now.” Statements like “our data” indicates it’s yours and not mine– “Us vs. them” where us is DDA and them is the public, tax paying citizens of this community.

By: Newcombe Clark Newcombe Clark Sat, 28 Aug 2010 16:29:28 +0000 Fred,

What you mentioned was before my time but I’ve been clear on my desire to open source our data. It is true, it is my understanding that the parking data is not subject to FOIA as it’s Republic Parking’s data. Sure, we could ask them to provide it to us so we can better understand the system we’re paying them to run. We do this regularly, and I for one love playing around with it. But I’m weird like that.

So what’s the problem in handing it over? Well, data is data, and undeniable by its very nature insomuch as it’s a measure and/or observation of events one chooses to measure and observe. It rarely tells the whole story of what is going on.

For example this past spring, we (classmates and I) ran a regression analysis to “find the formula” for revenue efficiency for street parking spots. We used 7 dependent variables and over 35k POS (point of sales) for the e-meters for one month (April, I believe).

What did we learn? Well, we learned that none of our laptops could handle the data set (it crashed them all so we had to run it on a commercial server) and we learned that we really can’t learn much from only 7 dependent variables (at least not the ones we used) and only 1 month of data (at least not the one we chose). Our residuals were horrible and we really only “unlocked” 18% of the “formula”.

Sooo…the point. I Get it Fred, data is fun and fun to play with and manipulate. But depended on how you manipulate it you can get it to “prove” anything. Again, before my time, but the controversy of the deck was boiling over into lawsuit territory with both sides using data to “prove” their case. There is a big difference between ‘advocacy’ and ‘inquiry’. I prefer the latter, because it, in theory, should be free of the subjective eye of the viewer. Conversely, ‘advocacy’ can be used for good and for evil, with merit and virtue solely in the eye of the manipulator, and the manipulated.

You want some of our data to help the DDA do it’s job better? Great! We could use the help. Write up a proposal and bring it Partnership Committee. Judgments in forums such as these may vary, but the DDA does more good than evil.
Or at least we try to…

By: Fred Posner Fred Posner Fri, 27 Aug 2010 13:22:48 +0000 Specifically I had been blocked (as well as others) from viewing the parking data published on their website. We did a FOIA request at which point they advised that they were not subject to FOIA.

We didn’t continue to fight it and I went public pressure route instead.

Incidentally, it was blocked when many were tracking usage, such as myself, Rob Godspeed, and others. Our data indicated that there was not a parking shortage. Rob Godspeed did an excellent analysis showing the availability of the 5,800 spots the DDA “provides.” At the time of the blocking, the DDA was actively pushing the underground garage.

Bottom line: After encouraging people to use the data, teh DDA actively blocked several, specific people from accessing public data.

By: Newcombe Clark Newcombe Clark Fri, 27 Aug 2010 03:42:52 +0000 Fred,

What data do you request?

By: Fred Posner Fred Posner Thu, 26 Aug 2010 19:47:39 +0000 Stew…

I’ve found the complete oposite including being ignored by Susan Pollay… but this was well documented in “A2DDA Blocks Asterisk Parking Data.” [link] My personal experience with the DDA is that they will block access to information based on assumptions (without fact) and furthermore waste money to provide services already available at no cost.

But, that’s just my experience. Oh wait… haven’t others had issues with gaining data from DDA on bus routes, etc? And the DDA says they are not required to comply with FOIA requests…

Hardly transparent in my opinion.

By: Stew Nelson Stew Nelson Thu, 26 Aug 2010 18:07:57 +0000 Just a short comment. I have found the DDA to be much more transparent than the City. All you have to do is ask Susan Pollay any question and you will get an answer. That is unlike the City where it usually takes a FOIA request to find out what they are really doing.


By: Dave Askins Dave Askins Thu, 26 Aug 2010 12:54:33 +0000 Re: [16]

1. Is the DDA an arm of the city?

From previous Chronicle coverage here’s a DDA board member’s view: “City-DDA Parking Talks Gain Tempo

Hewitt weighed in on the contractual aspect of the agreement by saying that if the view of the city was that the DDA was merely an arm of the city, as opposed to an entity that could enter into contracts with the city, then the committees were wasting their time.

Relevant passages from the state enabling legislation, the DOWNTOWN DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY Act 197 of 1975:

125.1652 Authority; establishment; restriction; public body corporate; powers generally.…(2) An authority shall be a public body corporate which may sue and be sued in any court of this state. An authority possesses all the powers necessary to carry out the purpose of its incorporation. The enumeration of a power in this act shall not be construed as a limitation upon the general powers of an authority.


125.1657 Powers of board; creation, operation, or funding of retail business incubator …(h) Acquire by purchase or otherwise, on terms and conditions and in a manner the authority considers proper or own, convey, or otherwise dispose of, or lease as lessor or lessee, land and other property, real or personal, or rights or interests in property, which the authority determines is reasonably necessary to achieve the purposes of this act, and to grant or acquire licenses, easements, and options with respect to that property.

2. Are DDA staff employees of the city?

DDA staff can and do obtain city of Ann Arbor ID badges. Their compensation tracks with city employees — they’ve enjoyed the same wage freeze as other city workers, and have increased their own contributions to health care. They were invited to the spring budget meeting for all city employees. Their paychecks are issued by the city of Ann Arbor.

Susan Pollay as been asked this question at an open public meeting. From the Chronicle’s report of the May 3, 2010 council meeting:

[Stephen] Kunselman asked Pollay if she was a city of Ann Arbor employee. Pollay allowed that it was an interesting question but said she did not believe so. She indicated that she was an employee of the DDA, but all of the DDA staff follow all of the city rules and the paychecks come through the city finance office. She said they actually did not take a lot of time reflecting on the question. They function as if they were a part of one whole organization.

Pollay indicated, however, that she worked at the pleasure of the DDA board. Her job, then, was to make sure that she met their expectations and goals, as expressed in their resolutions. Mayor John Hieftje added that the board of the DDA in a very real way serves at the pleasure of the city council – given that the city council appoints DDA board members. “So you can feel better about that,” he told Kunselman. Quipped Pollay, “I’m not sure I do!”

3. Why can’t the city just directly contract with Republic Parking — otherwise put, why can’t the “parking authority” be handled completely under the auspices of the city of Ann Arbor?

Short answer: The city could handle parking itself. While historically, the city does not have a great record of maintaining the parking infrastructure, this history dates back to the early 1990s. One could contemplate the possibility that with different city management now in place, the city could simply integrate the management of parking back into the city, with something like a Parking Advisory Commission to set policy.

This idea has been lurking in the background of the two committee’s discussions. From the Chronicle’s report of the first open meeting of the two mutually beneficial committees:

Parking Consolidation: Consolidate, But Separate From the DDA?

Collins then tentatively raised the issue of a general strategic direction – he indicated he was almost hesitant to say it, because it probably wouldn’t come true. The notion of consolidating “the parking world” and then possibly moving that to a separate kind of authority “isn’t a crazy notion” from the DDA’s standpoint, he ventured. He allowed that this was probably a minority opinion on the DDA board at this point.

Smith offered the counterpoint that parking in itself was not the end – it’s a tool in the development toolbox. “Nobody comes downtown to park,” Smith noted, “they come downtown for other reasons.” Parking is something that can be leveraged and made part of a development strategy – she pointed to the fourth item on the term sheet.

Collins said that for the foreseeable future, unifying management and enforcement within the DDA made sense. He reiterated, though, that as a strategic direction – in terms of aligning Ann Arbor with the way that other cities do things – it was worth bearing in mind that it could be separate. Other cities, he said, had parking authorities that handle these kind of things – it would be a good thought experiment. Other cities had already solved these problems of what’s in and what’s out and who enforces what, he noted.

There’s a collective bargaining issue that might also have to be addressed. Part of the rationale for eliminating union jobs that used to be assigned to meter collection was something along the lines of “the city isn’t even in the parking business any more.” So if the city were to contract with Republic Parking directly, I think there’d need to be some discussions with AFSCME.

4. More specifics on budgets for DDA, please.

Here’s a link to a breakdown by parking structure showing income and expenses, which was circulated at the most recent mutually beneficial committee meeting: Parking Structures Income/Expense

Here’s the DDA’s budget, downloaded from the DDA website: DDA FY2010-2011 Budget Summary