City Audit Raps Residential Permit Parking Program Performance

Called for by the City Council more than a year-and-a-half ago, the final Performance Audit of the Residential Permit Parking (RPP) Program was released in June by Oakland City Auditor Courtney A. Ruby.

The document, consisting of 167 pages in three volumes, is strongly critical of almost every aspect of the way in which the RPP Program has been administered. Many of these criticisms have been documented in The Rockridge News and noted by many Rockridge residents.

In broad reply to each section of the audit — “Policies & Analyses,” “Revenue & Costs,” and “Management Systems” — recently-appointed Director of Parking Operations Noel Pinto said, “...the audit findings reflect actions or decisions made by the prior parking administration. The report gives the appearance that the audit findings reflect current conditions under the new parking administration which is not the case.”

A new computer system which has just become operational (article, page 3) appears able to address some of the issues raised in the audit. It is anticipated that City Council action will be required on other issues.

Given the length of the audit reports, this article will only touch on the most important conclusions. Readers can find the full reports online at the Audit Reports section of the Auditor’s Web site: http://www.oaklandauditor.com/audits/reports.

Following are highlights of the audit, by section:

Policies & Analyses: Residential Par king Permit (RPP) Progra m’s Policies for Cost and Revenue Analyses Were Incomplete:

This report gives a brief history of the RPP Program, including the fee schedules. Because of the parking impact of the Rockridge BART station, RPP holders in Rockridge pay one of the costs of having a rapid transit system that serves the entire Bay Area. Therefore, it is an open question whether Rockridge residents should have to pay the entire cost of their RPPs. The report states:

“The audit found that the City lacks a clear policy on:

  • The level of cost that should be recovered for providing government programs and services (i.e., a specific percentage such as 100% cost recovery or 50% cost recovery);
  • When less than full cost recovery would be appropriate;
  • What types of cost are to be included in the cost analysis of City programs and services.

One of the questions raised by residents when the City Council twice voted to increase RPP fees was: Why was citation revenue not included in the financial analysis? The amount of revenue from RPP enforcement remains unknown. However, regarding all enforcement costs and revenues, the report states “…generally the revenue generated by Enforcement staff exceeds the costs: For last Fiscal Year the enforcement revenue collected was $23,930,986 while the cost of the enforcement staff was $3,327,823.”

The report also stated that the practices in place “Allow stakeholder input into formulation of the [RPP] policy.” It should be noted that the last time RPP fees were raised by the City Council, the public received three days’ notice that the item was on the Council’s agenda.

Key Findings:

  • “The City’s policies do not clearly define the intended level of cost recovery for the RPP Program, as well as the types of costs that should be included in the Program’s cost analysis.
  • “Parking Management did not track or include all relevant costs (enforcement, benefits, overhead, etc.) in its FY 2008-09 cost analysis of the RPP Program.
  • “Parking Management was not able to provide the evidence necessary to validate over 90% of its FY 2008-09 cost analysis.
  • “Parking Management did not present all revenue sources related to the RPP Program, such as RPP citation revenue, that should be included in the RPP Program’s revenue analysis.”

From “Revenue & Costs: Weak Oversight of Entities that Pay Residential Permit Par king Progra m Permits Resulted in Uncollected Revenue and Unanticipa ted Costs:”

This report notes that “not every Oakland resident who lives in an RPP area and has an RPP pays for it. Residents in some parts of Area A, all of Area E, and Area H have their permits paid for by a third party entity…[such as] Kaiser Permanente Hospital, Head-Royce School and Highland Hospital…. Parking Management did not have proper internal controls in place to manage relationships with third party entities that pay for RPPs, resulting in up to $120,000 in uncollected, non-invoiced and improperly accounted for revenue.”

Key Findings:

  • “Parking Management did not have documented agreements for all relationships with third party entities.
  • “Parking Management lacked an accounts receivable management system to manage third-party entity transactions.
  • “Parking Management did not invoice third-party entities in a timely manner, including an estimated $15,000 for FY 2008-09.
  • “Parking Management did not collect outstanding accounts receivables totaling approximately $50,000 from two third party entities.
  • “Parking Management did not maintain adequate financial records to prove payment of invoices, totaling approximately $40,000.
  • “Parking Management did not charge third-party entities late fees for delinquent payments totaling approximately $15,000.
  • “Parking Management did not charge third-party entities late fees for delinquent payments totaling approximately $15,000.

From “Management Systems: Weak Management Systems for the Residential Par king Permit Progra m Resulted in Opera tional Inefficiencies and Uncollected Revenue:”

This report says that “the length of time it takes to process each permit was approximately 50 minutes” and “permit expiration is concentrated on one [annual] date and creates a backlog for RPP Permit renewal processing.”

Key Findings:

  • “Parking Management did not adequately address operational inefficiencies by streamlining documentation requirements and utilizing technology enhancements.
  • “RPP Program staff efficiency for processing permits has not been maximized.
  • “RPP Area residents are dissatisfied with the RPP Program because of the inefficiencies of the program.
  • “Parking Management did not collect approximately $20,000 in revenue from outstanding parking citations over three fiscal years.
  • “Parking Management did not implement a policy and procedure to check for outstanding parking citations before issuing a permit.”