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Buffalo's parking commissioner: 'Our job is to enforce the law'

Buffalo Parking Commissioner Kevin Helfer said enforcement officers aren't ticketing busy areas to make more money for the city. They're there, he said, because it's where the most parking violations occur.

"The areas that have the most density are where you are going to get the most people violating the laws, and our job is to enforce the law," Helfer said. "People don't necessarily believe this, but it's a fact: We get many requests from 311 to enforce the law both in neighborhoods and commercial districts."

Last year, the city took in about $8 million in parking fines, Helfer said.

His department tries to be responsive to the public, he said. The city moved to alternate parking on streets near Elmwood Avenue in response to public requests. Motorists can now pay by using a cellphone to feed an expiring meter if they're caught in a meeting or still having dinner and can't get to their vehicles.

Helfer also said his office allows a 15-minute grace period after a timed parking rule changes.

"For example, on Mondays and Thursdays a lot of alternate parking changes occur at 6 at night," he said. "From 5:45 to 6:15, we give a half hour for people to move their cars. If someone gets a ticket at 6:05 and brings it in, we dismiss it."

How do parking tickets on your block compare with the rest of Buffalo?

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