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Point of View

Beverly Hills, Lamborghini at Walmart, ‘Dings’ and Zen

By John Van Horn

Headline in the local newspaper: “City To Sue Itself Over Two Hour Parking.”
I couldn’t pass up a headline like that … and in Beverly Hills of all places.
I read the Courier article three times, and I think I understand. Some local folks petitioned to put an initiative on the upcoming ballot. It mandates two hours of free parking in city lots. This will cost the Beverly Hills millions, and it needs the money.
So the city is suing to get a judge to block the initiative from the ballot, because they believe the initiative is contrary to some existing city ordinances, or whatever. They also know that if it makes it to the ballot, it will surely pass. So the city is suing the city clerk who accepted the petition and who, in fact, did nothing wrong.
What do I think? I think it’s a big mistake to set parking rates by a ballot of the people. Parking is a commodity just like coffee, sugar, corn or oil. Its cost should be set by supply and demand, not the whim of an electorate that believes all parking should be free.
That having been said, it’s up to Beverly Hills to sell the concept to the merchants and the residents. Parking fees pay for sidewalks, parking structures, parks, excellent street lighting … and help make the world safe for democracy.
The city should hire one of those great PR firms that inhabit the high-rises on Wilshire Boulevard and promote the movie stars who live in Beverly Hills and have the firm sell the people of BH on the idea that paying for parking is a good idea.
Get the one that sells us Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan or “Brangelina.” If you can make those folks likeable, you can certainly sell parking. I read that Lohan believes she is being denied a driver’s license because the paparazzi chasing her cause too much of a problem, and she’s asking her lawyer to get a restraining order against them. (All this as she is released from Betty Ford Center.) If they can sell us that, they can sell pay parking in Beverly Hills.
Think about it, a news release telling all about the cracks in the sidewalks that can’t be repaired without the parking money. Or if the money went to the local hospital, showing a child with a tear in its eye saying that no bed was available because the cheap folks in BH don’t want to pay for parking. Or maybe a few rumors started on TMZ about evil office workers taking “free” parking spaces from grannies who are trying to get to their financial advisers or their hair salons on Rodeo Drive. The stories are endless.
***
OK, nothing to see here, move along – except this headline: “Lamborghini Stolen From Jackson Walmart Parking Lot.” Why, might one ask, was a Lamborghini in a Walmart parking lot, in Jackson, MS?
I have seen Rolls-Royces at Costco, but a Lamborghini at Walmart? Puh-leez!
Turns out the car was being transported in a trailer, and the trailer was hooked to a blue Dodge Ram truck (now we’re getting somewhere). All were recovered when the thieves discovered what they had stolen and realized they would be hunted down by gun-toting sheriff’s deputies …
Headlines like this warm my heart.
***
This question always raises controversy: What do you do when you see someone in a parking lot “ding” your car with a shopping cart or their car door? Accost them, return in kind, escalate the situation with a baseball bat?
I have a slightly different approach. I think that your car is your problem. If you are so afraid that your Belchfire 12 will be dinged in the parking lot, don’t park in the parking lot. Park on-street, or in that space half a block away in the corner that has a lot of extra room. Buy a “beater” to drive to the mall, and keep your “cherry” ride for impressing your next date.
There are some other things you can do. You can have your car “coated” with a clear coating. It will never need waxing, and you will be protected from all but the very worst dings. Or get a touch-up kit and fix the dings when they happen. It’s life – cars get dinged.
Of course, you should make it your policy to never ding another car. Put the shopping cart away where it belongs and park right in the middle of the space. Also, if you have a Hummer or Navigator, realize that it’s not a compact and shouldn’t go in a compact space.
If the space is too small because some nincompoop parked too far to one side of his space, park somewhere else. If you park there, even if you are a Size 1 and can get out of your car, he probably has been drinking beer for the past 30 years and simply can’t get into his without dinging yours.
In the end, remember – it’s a car: Rocks are going to ding the hood, birds are going to use it as a restroom, the dog is going to tear the upholstery.
I was helping park cars for an event the other night, and one fellow drove his car to the lowest level and parked in a space that was surrounded by columns – no vehicle could get within five feet of his car, a beautiful new Bentley. He was no dummy.
But in the end, realize that having a meltdown over a ding isn’t worth it. Once it’s dinged, it’s dinged. What are you going to do? Have the door repainted and send the bill to the other guy? I think not.
Zen out. Worry about the big problems. These little dings simply aren’t worth it.

Article Abstract from January, 2011




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