City Paper Bounces The Training Set Parking Analysis

March 19, 2015

I was able to get in contact with Edward Ericson Jr. over at Baltimore’s City Paper concerning the parking investigation at 4200 Wickford Rd. Ed was kind enough to bounce my findings in a quick update blurb. Full text is below.

Parking being what it is in Baltimore, it’s not surprising that a light-hearted look at the lengths city councilmembers are required to go on behalf of constituents who are inconvenienced by tickets—which City Paper published in December—would be met by data hounds. Now comes Justin Elszasz, who analyzed the city’s parking ticket database to conclude that—surprise—the issue is not so big, in the grand scheme of things. “What is curious is that the open data for parking citations at the 4200 block of Wickford Rd. are not showing a rampant citation issue as the article or residents suggest,” the blog post says, above a bar graph depicting more than 20 citations in April of 2014 and 15 in November-December. But the data looks like exactly the sort of thing the residents complained (and CP wrote) about—sporatic, complaint-driven hard-assery. We were careful not to quantify the damage because we did not have the tools or time to do the analysis Elszasz did. And he confirms what City Paper reported, right down to our tone. We said the residents—who actually have garages on their back alley—are inconvenienced by the law prohibiting them from parking on the curb, facing the wrong way. Elszasz says: “It truly pales in comparison to some of the blocks I’ve been looking at recently. The article claims that parking tickets have appeared in the middle of the night, ‘depicting the parking enforcement agents as thieves in the night.’ It looks like that actually was the case a couple few times - around 4:30am on April 4 and 8, 2014, and around 2:30am on April 18, 2014. But overall, this article and the residents on this block appear to be making something out of nothing. The grand total of fines issued for the 41 citations above is $1,312.” - Edward Ericson Jr.

Data obtained from Open Baltimore.
Analysis conducted using Python and Pandas
Full analysis IPython notebook can be found here.

City Paper Bounces The Training Set Parking Analysis - March 19, 2015 - Justin Elszasz