Point of View
Huntington, Andrea the Chef and Koo
John Van Horn
The parking public loves stories like this one. In Huntington, WV, the parking division bought some mini gas-powered vehicles to replace the electric carts the enforcement folks had been using.
The board thought the two gas-powered vehicles would be more cost-effective than the electric carts because they get about 50 miles per gallon and don’t have to be taken off the streets at least two hours a day to be recharged, said Johnette Nelson, the parking board’s executive director. They also don’t require a new $1,200 battery every 18 months or so.
However, the local gendarmes didn’t think the idea was quite so wonderful. It seems the vehicles are not street legal. Considered off-road vehicles, they can’t be licensed by the state and the police have issued tickets. They are now sitting in a garage while everyone tries to figure out what to do.
My suggestion? The mayor should get the cops and the parking folks in a room and they should cut a deal so the vehicles can be used. It seems to me that trained enforcement officers should be able to drive them “on street” and go about their business. The law, it seems to me, was to keep Joe Sixpack from driving his three-wheeler on the streets, endangering life and limb. A little common sense could handle this. If the state wants its money, send them a check as if they were light-use pickup trucks and let everyone get on with their lives.
Andrea the Chef is complaining that parking is no longer free across the street. The garage that was full now requires that she pay. However, if Andrea the Chef parks a couple of blocks away, she can park for a lower price, and even a bit farther, she can park for free.
The process opens up spaces for her customers, who, it is assumed, have difficulty finding parking spaces.
My word to Chef Andrea – your customers should come first. Take a short walk, save some money, give your customers a place to park, and make the best pizza in the world. Guess what? The world will beat a path to your door, no matter what the parking across the street costs. I guarantee it.
OK, we all know Koo Stark – we don’t? She was running around with Prince Andrew a few years back, and is now a single mother – I don’t think the two are related. However, she has a problem. She drives a Prius and thinks she can park in London for free. And, so it seems, as do the local city fathers – well, kinda.
When Ms. Stark bought the car, she understood from no less than the Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone that it was a “green” car and she could park it for free. She then began to rack up parking tickets. When she complained, she got a letter saying, “So sorry, you are right, you should be able to park for free.” In fact, she got two letters.
Then she was told, “So sorry, but we made a mistake. You can park at some spaces for free, but not at others.” So her car was impounded. She raised a stink and got her car back, but as of this moment, the city doesn’t seem to know what to do. They are handling her tickets on a “case by case basis.”
I have been railing for years against giving free parking to “green” or “eco-friendly” cars because they are “green” or “eco-friendly.” I think it’s discriminatory. The cars take up space on the street. They cause congestion and traffic. They have four wheels and a seat. Why shouldn’t they pay to park just like everyone else?
Now if the City of London can’t even figure out what is “eco-friendly” and what isn’t and can’t fairly enforce its own rules, how can one expect the rest of us to understand what’s what? In some places motorcycles are exempt from certain charges. Some of the two-wheeled monsters should be charged double, simply for the noise they make. But that’s another story.
The free market will work, without the help of the state, thank you very much. Mayor Ken in London passed the rule for “electric” cars. And in a country of 50 million vehicles, they have just over 1,000 running around. That’s completely electric cars, and that’s where Koo made her mistake. Hybrids (gas and electric) aren’t covered. The popular Prius hybrid is selling faster than they can make ‘em; however, the state-sponsored electrics are gathering dust on the showroom floor.
The rules on those cars are so complicated that even the people who enforce them can’t understand them. Car owners are being harassed for following what they, and some of the enforcers, believe are the rules. We are making an entirely new set of lawbreakers.
I don’t have a problem taxing cars based on size. If they take up more room, then they should pay more. We’ve been doing that for years, charging more for limos than for regular cars. Makes perfect sense. If you have a Mini and can park two in the space that it takes for a Range Rover, then you should pay less. Supply and demand and all that.
But to get a break because you have some kind of different way of propelling your vehicle? Nope. Koo’s issue exemplifies the problem. By the way, the jury is still out as to whether the amount of energy generated to fully charge an electric car’s battery is more or less than the amount of energy generated to actually propel the car. And if you add the infrastructure (charging stations, wiring, etc.), who knows? My guess is that it’s a wash.
And don’t get me started on car pool lanes...
I feel for Koo. According to the story I read, she has enough problems without having to deal with trumped-up laws and bureaucrats who can’t find the law library.
The law of unintended consequences – we start down a path and have no idea where it’s going to lead. We have the best of intentions, but end up with the worst of results.
Article Abstract from October, 2007