Berlin - Our city-state is bumping up the cost of illegal parking - when it actually writes a ticket. Illegal parkers will now be asked to cough up as much €55 for a warning, up from as much as €15. Illegally parking on a sidewalk or bike path as well as double parking will now cost as much as €110.
The Senat - as Berlin's government is known - Tuesday heard a report on police activity in the capital while passing the new fines. The cops last year issued more than 473,000 tickets in "resting traffic", the German euphemism for non-driving related automotive offenses. Meanwhile, the public order office (Ordnungsamt) issued 1.9 million tickets.
Critics of Berlin traffic - including Germany's own auto pope - have long complained that owning cars in Berlin is too cheap. Residential parking spaces cost pennies per day and fines were often laughable. Lax enforcement often leads to creative parking in no parking zones, loading zones and even sidewalks.
Politicians have also agreed to allow public order officers to order the towing of illegally parked vehicles. BVG, Berlin's transport authority, won a similar power last year after illegally parked vehicles repeatedly blocked bus lanes - earlier this year it said its own yellow fleet of tow vehicles moved 3,247 vehicles last year.
The police also recently "reduced the operating areas of contract towing companies to reduce travel and response times," according to the report. However, Berlin doesn't tow cars to a central impound lot. Instead, they are just moved to a nearby legal parking spot and owners sent a bill for the service.