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Disabled parking/loading signage: The problem
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Please find attached a response from staff regarding the possibility of installing pavement markings at the accessible loading/unloading zone (1173-1175 Bloor Street West).
If Traffic Services is not willing to try ONE pavement marking at the Bloor Street location, here is another suggestion: is Traffic Services willing to apply a large warning sticker to the nearby "Pay-and_Display" machine? That way, people who mistakenly try to pay for their parking could be warned that they should look at their parking spot more carefully
The sticker could say something like: WARNING: disabled parking zone within 20 metres of this machine.. As you can see from the photo of the machine, there's plenty of room to affix such a sticker.
I've cc'd Stephen Brown here, hoping to have an answer much sooner than before -- within a week would be helpful. Once such a sticker is in place, the test (re: are there significantly fewer infractions?) could run for six months, with interim tallies every two months.
One other note: The pavement markings issue that we raised had to do with arterial roads. Those are the roads where there is often a glut of municipal and commercial signage, likely to confuse the citizens who park there to shop. Through Freedom of Information we found out that there are only 62 disabled parking spots on arterial roads in Toronto.
As stated within our response to Councillor Bailao "Our traffic Signs and Pavement Markings section has been requested to install parking stall border markings on the road to denote the end and commencement of the "pay-and-display" areas, east and west of the accessible loading/unloading zone. These markings will be installed as part of the 2012 Pavement Marking Contract, which is scheduled to run from April through to October".
I trust this information clarifies the matter.
Thank you, Mr.Brown, for responding so quickly to my last e-mail. I'm glad to hear that you plan to add some generic pavement markings sometime between April and October.
However, the stakes are unusually high with disabled parking fines -- I think there are not many other types of parking tickets that cost $450 --? So that would seem to merit special markings.
Attached here is an example of the kind of parking sticker I mean. If a person goes to the pay-and-display machine under the mistaken impression that they need to pay ordinary parking charges, the sticker will warn them that they must look at the sidewalk signs more carefully. My hunch is that with such high stakes, they'll move their car before going into whatever store they intended to visit. Why lose two weeks' grocery money for a mistake like that?
David Cayley first drew the councillor's attention to the signage problem on January 21, 2011, over a year ago. After months of delays and unsuccessful attempts to get information, David finally went through Freedom of Information and found out that between March 2008 and December 2010, this single disabled parking section netted over $155,000 in parking fines for the city.
This could mean that Torontonians don't care much about access for disabled people -- or it could mean that on busy arterial roads there are so many road signs and shop signs that people get confused. If "sign fatigue" is the problem, that means that in the year's delay since David wrote to the councillor, Torontonians may have unfairly paid as much as $50,000 more in fines at that one location.
All along, David and I have been asking your division to paint ONE experimental pavement marking, and then see if the number of tickets goes down at that ONE location. If it works, citywide arterial road markings would not break the bank -- the income from the disabled spots, citywide, is certainly enough to afford pavement markings on arterial roads i.e. 62 spots cited in the FOI list, not 900 as your letter suggests.
You quickly turned down my cheaper suggestion of stickers. Please reconsider. They cost $5. Here is such a sticker, on the pay-and-display machine:
I am donating this sticker to the city. I hope your division will now join us in monitoring whether it makes a difference to how many people obstruct access for the Safehaven respite centre. In order to carry out this experiment, we'll need to compare before and after. Please let me know how many tickets have been issued at that location between January 1 2011 and February 26 2012 (the date of the sticker installation). Then we have a baseline, to compare over the next half year.
I look forward to an encouraging reply,
E-mail to Stephen Brown, Transportation Services
Since I had no reply or acknowledgment of my February 26 2012 letter to you, a request for follow-up parking fine information has now gone to Corporate Access. I do appreciate that your staff have not removed the warning sticker on the "pay-and-display" machine that was posted there on February 26, so that we can test the results. We would also like to test the results of the standard road marking, showing a blue square and the wheelchair sign.
FOI request text: Follow-up to Access request # AG-2011-01810 Please let me know the number of tickets issued for parking illegally in the disabled parking space located near 1173 Bloor St.West and 1175 Bloor St.West from:
January 1 2011 until February 25 2012,
and then again from February 26 until the present. (I need this number separately, not rolled in with the above number)
Web link: This is the link we are sending around prior to making a complaint to the ombudsman. We would like to make the case that Transportation has dragged their feet for well over a year when all we were asking for was ONE test site using the clearest possible disabled markings. During this period there may have been an additional number of unfair tickets to citizens. We're now in the process of contacting the local residents' groups, BIA, local agencies, and merchants, to pull together this complaint.
I believe that the ombudsman will want to know that we exhausted all avenues with Transportation directly. Did you want to meet first, or shall we leave it at that?
I received your letter copy attached of May 4 2012, informing me that despite a $60 search of computer data, "no such records exist." My request, as noted in my FOI application 2012-00615, was a follow-up to my previous FOI request #20122-01810. I attach the original response, kindly sent to me by your colleague Margaret Liu, in January.
The problem seems to be that you asked for the information from Municipal Licensing and Standards and Revenue Services. Neither of them was apparently aware that it's Court Services which holds the records of city parking tickets income. Could you try them?
Hi Mr. Cayley:
I am responding to your e-mail sent to me and to others at 4:30 P.M. on May 16, 2012 pertaining to Access Request Number 2012-00615.
As you had identified Transportation Services (TS) as the source for the records in your access request application form under this request (2012-00615), we also asked TS to conduct a search along with MLS and Court Services staff. As stated in our May 4, 2012 decision letter, staff of TS and MLS found no responsive records. Please note that there is no charge under this access request for the search conducted by staff of TS and MLS.
The cost of developing a computer program to extract the requested data is only for the records found by Court Services staff at the City. As it took Information and Technology staff of Court Services a duration of one hour to develop the program to extract this data into a 4 page printed report, the cost of $60.00 for this programming is being charged, as outlined in the letter.
Once you send our office a cheque in the amount of $60.00, the 4 page list of parking tag information relating to your request will be sent to you by mail.
I hope this clarifies matters.
Please feel free to call me if you wish to discuss this further. If I am not available when you call, you may wish to contact our Registrar, Pauline Lam at Ph# 416-392-9687
Jerry Verhovsek Access & Privacy Officer Corporate Information Management Services
Your original letter was somewhat confusing, since your section headed "Access to the Records" ends with the statement "Access cannot therefore be granted, as no such records exist." However, with your clarification, I see that this statement referred only to "MLS and TS" and that in fact Revenue Services did find the records I requested.
I am still confused, however, by the $60 fee, and the four pages of records. My previous access request, #2011-01810, gave me the information I asked for -- for each of three years at two adjoining addresses -- in half a page. The time period covered by my follow-up request is shorter, divided into only two parts. Why does the response run to four pages this time?
Re developing a computer program: what kind of a special program needs to be developed for such a straightforward information request? And why was I not charged for developing a computer program for my original request?
I appreciate that you offered to discuss my request further over the telephone, but since the issue of disabled parking signage may go to the ombudsman next, I need a written record of the reasons for the City's decisions.
Hi Mr. Cayley:
In answer to your question, the copy of the records you requested, are not stored or organized in the manner that you requested them. Therefore, an Information and Technology specialist in Court Services at the City had to develop a program and implement it to retrieve and compile the records in the manner you were asking for them. This took the I&T staff person one hour to complete. Thus, $60.00 is the computer programming cost to the City of creating the records that you requested, and also is the computer programming fee for this particular access request.
Please feel free to call me if you wish to discuss this further.
Access & Privacy Officer
Hi Mr. Cayley:
I am sending this e-mail to you, to further elaborate on my explanation, given in my e-mail to you of May 17, 2012 at 1:46 P.M.
In your previous Access Request Number 2011-01810 you requested the total number of tickets issued for parking illegally at 1173 and 1175 Bloor Street West in Toronto during each of the years of 2008, 2009 and 2010. On reviewing the access request file, I note that a staff person from Information and Technology (I&T) had to create and run a computer program query in order to obtain all of the relevant data from the mainframe computer system needed to obtain the information you requested. The result of the query was compiled into a list by the Access & Privacy Officer. Although time was spent by the I&T staff person to obtain data to create the list, the I&T person apparently did not inform our office of the time required by them for this purpose, and thus there were no costs indicated in the our letter to you dated October 14, 2011 for the release of this list that was enclosed.
In the recent Access Request Number 2012-00615, you asked for a record giving the number of tickets issued for parking illegally at this same location during the period from January 2011 to February 25, 2012 and afterwards from February 26, 2012 to present. A different I&t staff person at the City had to again create and run a computer program query to obtain the data required. It took the I&T person one hour to carry out this activity and our office was informed of the time required for this work on this occasion. Accordingly, our May 4, 2012 decision letter informed you of the associated computer programming costs regarding this request.
I hope this further clarifies why costs apply under Access Request Number 2012-00615.
Thank you for your further clarification. The information I asked for is so simple and straightforward that it's most surprising to read that the city has to create a special program to retrieve it from "the mainframe computer system." If the city's computer system cannot run reports that would take five minutes using widely available programs like Quickbooks, I think citizens should not be charged for that deficiency. I will therefore appeal your decision to the Province. I will also mention the fact that, according to your description, the same program appears to have been created from scratch twice.
Yours truly, David Cayley
Information and Privacy Commissioner/Ontario
2 Bloor Street East, Suite 1400
Toronto, M4W 1A8.
June 17 2012
I would like to appeal a decision of Corporate Access and Privacy, City of Toronto, regarding my Freedom of Information Request 2012-00615. FOI request text: Follow-up to Access request # AG-2011-01810 Please let me know the number of tickets issued for parking illegally in the disabled parking space located near 1173 Bloor St.West and 1175 Bloor St.West from: January 1 2011 until February 25 2012, and then again from February 26 until the present. (I need this number separately, not rolled in with the above number)
I have enclosed the e-mail thread with Access and Privacy Officer Jerry Verhovsek, as well as a copy of the original information for which my request was a follow-up, and the Corporate Access decision letter. As you see, before making this appeal, I tried to explain directly to Mr.Verhovsek why the $60 fee for this information did not seem reasonable. However, on May 25 2012 it became obvious that he was sticking to his decision.
Hence this appeal.
"....In response to your request, the City issued a decision on May 4, 2012, stating that access to the requested records would be granted after the City received a cheque in the amount of $60.00...your appeal is out of time and the Freedom of Information Co-ordinator for the City is not prepared to accept it...."
"The Office of the...IPC is committed to mediation as the preferred method of dispute resolution."
Message: the City is not prepared to reduce or eliminate the fee. The case can go to arbitration, but it is unlikely that the arbitrator will change the decision.