By Mike Headrick – April 28, 2015
A KSL investigation showed the United States Postal Service owes Salt Lake City thousands of dollars in unpaid parking tickets. After the story aired, both sides agreed to resolve the issue, but it appears postal workers are still breaking city laws.
“How many (tickets) have you gotten?” KSL reporter Mike Headrick asked one postal worker.
“Oh, probably about 40 in the past year,” he answered.
For years, the USPS has claimed “constitutional immunity” to the city’s parking laws. But after the KSL Investigators first shed light on the issue, digging through records, tracking citations and closely watching the parking patterns of Salt Lake City postal workers, both sides finally came together in a closed-door meeting to try to hammer out a solution.
Benjamin Roberts is a compliance director for Salt Lake. He says the city and the Postal Service have found some middle ground to move forward. In the past, communication has been the biggest issue. Tickets were written but ignored and the brief conversations between the two sides’ “lower level” management was basically wasted breath.
“None of us expected out of a first meeting, where we were able to get everybody in the same room, to solve all the issues,” said Roberts.
But after the latest meeting, Roberts says both sides agreed postal workers should never have free reign.
“There’s some areas that we can’t give a lot of ground on,” said Roberts. “Fire zones are a good example, and they know that. They absolutely know that.”
But it turns out, knowing something and doing something about it are two very different things.
A couple of weeks after the two sides laid down some ground rules, KSL Investigators watched those rules being broken. First, a mail carrier parked in a spot for people driving buses. The mail carrier became agitated when she realized she was being filmed and threatened to call 911.
A disabled man says the same postal worker parked in a spot designated for those with a handicap. In a letter to the Postal Service, the man recalls telling her she “shouldn’t park in the handicap spaces.” He reported the mail carrier told him “get over it” and then proceeded to flip him off several times.
The USPS refused to sit down with KSL Investigators and answer questions, but it did offer this statement:
“The Postal Service is pleased by the progress made at Friday’s meeting with City of Salt Lake officials and wants to thank the City for actively participating in identifying solutions to ensure our customers’ mail is delivered promptly and safely.”
But the safety issue is still an issue. KSL Investigators watched as one mail carrier spent nearly half an hour parked on the sidewalk, directly in front of a fire hydrant.
“Did you write him up?” asked Headrick.
“I can’t really talk about it, Mike,” was the response from a parking enforcement officer.
The mail carrier did get a warning from the enforcement officer, but that piece of paper did very little to curb his questionable parking. Next stop, just around the corner, he parked in the middle of a bus zone. KSL Investigators then witnessed him driving about 20 yards, where he spent the next 15 minutes double parked, in a bike lane, unloading and delivering the mail while cyclists swerved around him.
Salt Lake City officials say safety, not money, has been their primary concern from the beginning. But now it appears the progress that came out of that closed-door meeting is benefiting postal workers. They’re still parking illegally, they’re still not paying old fines, and now instead of getting smacked with citations they’re simply driving off with a warning.
Both sides say they’ll continue to communicate to try and resolve the issue.