“A big focus of this department is to recalibrate the idea we are against the residents,” said West Chester Parking Director Ramsey Reiner. “We are here for the residents.”

You know how after you break something, you sometimes come up with a work around just to get it working again? Then in time, you get so good at the work around it seems simpler to keep it in place than to actually fix what was broken in the first place? To me, this is West Chester’s Parking Department. I shared this analogy with Ramsey Reiner, West Chester’s new Parking Director. She laughed politely but would neither confirm nor deny my view.

Still, I say, it’s a pretty solid assessment of a Department whose long-serving Director was fired last year and then charged with theft. (Spoiler: Hoping to not alienate any additional members of Borough staff, I did not ask the director about her predecessor or her own past employment. We stayed focused on Parking today.)  Since her appointment 10 months ago, Ramsey has been busy straightening up and streamlining a dense and convoluted series of parking regulations. 

Just this week she introduced a proposal to clean up the language in Chapter 77, the section of the Borough code that deals with residential parking permits. She wants the Borough’s legal team to remove redundancies from the ordinance and institute consistent policies for all parking lots.

“We’re talking about consistency across the Borough?” Councilwoman Lisa Dorsey said in mock-surprise and obvious delight at Tuesday’s Parking Committee meeting. But clean-up is only part of the plan.

“There are two main parking problems I am looking at,” she said. “One is the lack of parking in residential areas. The other is the ease of parking downtown.” 

Residential Parking is up first. Under her early direction, the Borough has tightened its grip on the Residential Parking Permit program banning new developments from participating including those planned at Mitch’s and Burger King. The exclusion will keep hundreds of permits from entering the already overtaxed system.

I asked specifically what the ratio of spots to permits was, but the Director, who had recently relocated offices, couldn’t put her finger on the report with the exact count. “I know you’re going to quote me on this,” she said, stopping short of giving numbers but giving context. “It was jarring to me – it was like double. So that’s why I am so hellbent against allowing these developers to participate in the Residential Parking Permit program.” 

She also wants to improve the annual permitting process known, perhaps not so affectionately, by staff as “Shark Week.” 

Ramsey has lots of improvement plans starting with residential parking permits.


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“It used to be a Phish concert,” Ramsey said, describing a scene where residents would show up at 4 a.m. and camp out in front of Borough Hall in hopes of getting a permit. She’s going to change that. Starting this year, permits will be awarded on a rolling basis. “We are really, really trying to get people to purchase their permits online this year,” she said. 

Permits, which will now be valid for a year from the day they were issued, can still be picked up in person. However, if you are insistent on coming in, make sure to call and schedule an appointment first.  

Ramsey seems acutely aware that all her decisions will have an impact: from rolling registrations to exempting properties to tackling West Chester University guest pass abuse, a new initiative she just introduced to the Parking Committee this week. For example, she explains, removing new development renters from the residential permit program is not likely to limit the number of vehicles they come with, the guests they have, and the vehicles they bring. Those vehicles will still need to go somewhere most likely flooding the non-permitted sections of the Borough.

“It’s going to have a butterfly effect,’ she said. Though, just because it’s challenging doesn’t mean she’s giving up. “We have really great staff,” she said. “This is going to be a year of transitions but it’s just going to get better and better I think.”


  • New payment systems for the garages. She’d like to move to a cashless system that includes a license plate reader to cut down on skipped payments and can easily issue validation codes for businesses and restaurants.
  • A new student parking permit that would allow out-of-state WCU students to ge& a residential parking permit using their rental agreement, landlord verification, and guardian affidavit. In doing so, she’d also like to remove student houses from participating in the guest pass program. “We have a really big issue with student parking,” she told the Parking Committee this week. 
  • A lottery system for long-term lot rentals. Rather than earmarking spots for a privileged few, Ramsey has proposed a lottery system that would give all interested parties equal opportunity to secure one of West Chester’s 11 parking lots’ long-term spaces. While that sounds egalitarian on its face, it seems the only group being directly affected is the United Methodist Church on S. High Street. For the last 20 years, the church has rented 18 spaces in Lot 5 for a cost of $540/month or $30 a space – a price significantly below the $75 a space that would be requested of the individual or business securing the space through the lottery system.

As if to prove her point about the ripple effects of change. Reverand Truman Brooks, pastor at United Methodist Church reached out to his congregation after learning of the proposed parking changes.

“Losing the parking lease would have a hugely negative impact on the life of our church in town,” he said.

This week Borough Council will discuss and vote on moving forward with changes to the Borough Parking Code including modifying the business permit use, student rental permit use, creating temporary service permits, and guest passes, as well as terminating the Methodist Church’s lease at Lot 5. Borough Council Work Session is scheduled for tonight at 6:30 p.m.

Breaking news: Tell your friends. Guest passes became available on Monday. “You heard it here first,” she said. 

Originally published, Aug. 11, 2023

This story is part of a longer weekly West Chester newsletter. Curious what else is going on? You can find the full issue here and the latest newsletter here. Even easier? Subscribe here to get the future issues delivered directly.

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