Magazine

Point of View

Disabled Drivers, Fried Chicken, High School French

By John Van Horn

Throughout this issue of PT, you will see portions underlined and in blue. They are “links” to sites on the Internet. Go online to our website, www.parkingtoday.com, check out the virtual copy of PT July, and you will find hot links to all sorts of neat places to read about parking. JVH
“(Indy) Airport ends discounted parking for disabled” – it’s about time. You can read about it here.
I know a number of disabled parkers. They don’t want free or cheap parking; they want access. They need their wide parking space so they can get in and out of their vehicles with chairs and crutches. By lowering the parking rate, or giving it for free, the incidence of fraud skyrockets. By taking away the market for fake “handicapped” placards, you keep space open for parkers with disabilities.
There is another issue. In California, disabled parkers park free on-street but have to pay off-street. Off-street lots are required to provide parking spaces for the handicapped but can charge. In areas around medical buildings, the disabled park on the street (where it is free) while going to their appointments, and the spaces in the lots are empty. This causes no end of problems for local parking enforcement.
When doctors in the area were asked if all the people they saw needed handicapped permits, they said “no,” but the patients told them that if they didn’t get the placards, they would find another doctor who would write the permission slip. Why? Because on-street parking is free. If it weren’t, this problem wouldn’t exist, and only those who needed the permit would get them, and those people would have plenty of space to park and gain access.
Good move, Indianapolis.
***
First the setup: Woman has new restaurant in Pittsburgh and tries to deliver goods to her place but is constantly getting ticketed while unloading. A narrow alley behind the restaurant has limited loading areas and “No Parking” and “15-minute Loading Zone” signs. No one told her parking would be such a nightmare, said the woman. “I want to see them give me some loading space,” she said. “How are we supposed to survive as a business without that?” … Read the entire story here.
Correspondent Mark’s comment: Her business has racked up over $3,000 in tickets in just three months. Does nobody think ahead about how they are going to deal with certain operational issues? Seems like if she would have simply read the signs or talked to other businesses on the block, she would have known what the deal was.
My rebuttal: OK, agreed, she may not be the best at problem-solving there in the land of the origin of the mighty Ohio river, great football, and home of Marcy, but she can cook damn good fried chicken. I believe she actually contacted all the folks she mentioned, and there is a problem with deliveries on this street.
It would seem to me that a reactive city government would be able to go down, take a look, and work out a way to solve this problem in a way that didn’t cost “Big Mama” one grand a month. My guess is that they will, now, after the local paper got wind of it. Although she would probably do better sending the mayor a couple of plates of chicken and pulled pork with a side of greens. If all else fails, bribe.
This is typical of bureaucracies. One office passes it off to another, and everyone is too busy to really look at and fix a citizen’s problem. The Pittsburgh Parking Authority didn’t have a record … Police couldn’t be reached … etc.
What all towns need are ombudsmen who know just what to do, and when someone calls, can send the problem to the right office and then follow up to be sure someone does something.
All that having been said, maybe this great cook needs a good business manager.
(This article generated a ton of comments. Read them online here.)
***
A fellow in our neighborhood “stored” his commercial truck in front of my house. He moved it only so he wouldn’t get a ticket on street-cleaning days. I happened to see the parking enforcement officer for our neighborhood at the post office and told him about my problem.
He immediately went over and marked the vehicle. It was the most complete marking I have ever seen. There were lines around each wheel, plus marks and dates on the tires. No way anyone could miss these chalk lines.
The next day, the truck was gone, and it hasn’t been seen since. My guess is that the driver saw the marks and knew he also was a marked man. I know I have only moved the problem to another neighborhood, but so be it. It’s now someone else’s issue.
Thanks, LA parking enforcement. Good job.
***
We have a fan on our PT Facebook page whose name is Scarlett. Go here and scroll down to see her postings. She lives near Strasbourg, in France. She tells us she is reading this page to increase her English skills. I try to respond to her in high school French and get peals of laughter in return. However, in late May, she found and posted a story from New Orleans generally about the amount of parking money being collected. The number impressed her, and she commented that maybe she could put a couple of meters in front of her house. She could use the extra money.
I think that’s a tremendous idea.
I believe that everyone who parks on a street anywhere should pay. And why shouldn’t the property owner where the car is parked get the profit? They are the ones putting up with the traffic and the cars blocking their views.
Consider this: A neighborhood sets up a parking district and installs meters. If someone wants to park there, they can pay whatever the going rate happens to be. If you want to be politically correct (I wouldn’t do this), you can give a permit to the homeowner for one car, but if they park more, they pay. The money goes to pay for the enforcement and collection, and what is left over is credited to the property taxes of the homeowner. Everyone wins.
Cars are taken off the street because garages will be cleaned out so the meter doesn’t have to be fed. The streets are safer because enforcement is moving around the area. And life is fair. Drivers are paying for what they use. The city isn’t subsidizing the parking. Some drivers may even decide to get rid of a car or two so they don’t have to pay for parking. See, even I can be green.
Great idea, Scarlett – keep ‘em coming.
P.S. – I responded to her in French the other day while I was on a plane. I said, in French, that I was “under” (sous) rather than “on” (sur) the plane. She responded to my staff that I was trying to commit suicide by riding under the plane. She told me I really would be more comfortable “On” or “In” the plane. A.J. Littman, HS French teacher, is rolling in his grave.

Article Abstract from July, 2010




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