I’ve said before, the English have an interesting way of putting things. Their political system is just as quirky to me as their language, and when you put the two together you get a government made up of Whips and Tories, councillors and rebels.
In the Rochford District in Essex, England, a second Tory councillor has left his party because of a decision to charge for parking on Saturdays. According to the article on Echo.com:
“Dave Sperring, councillor for Trinity ward, in Rayleigh, will no longer be voting with the Conservative group on the council and says he will stand in May as an independent Conservative.”
It’s not that he was so mad about the parking charges, it’s that he was mad his party required him to vote for the parking charges:
“The controversial measure was passed by a full council meeting in January after Tories were ordered to back it and support group leader Terry Cutmore.”
Sperring didn’t like the way the vote was handled and isn’t going to be put in the same position again. So he left his party and is the second Tory to do so this week.
His decision means the council is now made up of 29 Conservatives, four Lib Dem, two independent Conservatives, two Greens and two Rochford District Resident representatives.
I don’t know what any of that means, but I like Mr. Sperring’s spunk. And I’m fascinated by the way a 1-pound per hour parking charge has reshaped a municipal government.
In Roanoke, city officials are planning a 90-day test of parking meters to see if they could be widely implemented in the downtown area. Some 15 years ago the city removed parking meters to attract more visitors to its commercial shopping core. That move might or might not have been the reason for the increase in consumer traffic downtown, but the place is hopping now.
Parking leadership now notes an upside-down parking scenario where premium spots are free, but less accessible parking in garages and outlying lots goes for a fee. They’d like to change that and the meter experiment is their first step. According to the article:
Whether the meters stay will depend on how they’re received, said Assistant City Manager Brian Townsend.
“If we find there’s not general acceptance by the public,” he said, “then, no, we won’t proceed.”
I’m not sure that’s the best way to make the decision, Mr. Townsend, but it’s a start.
Read the article here.
A new Trader Joe’s market in Denver is attracting a lot of attention, and not all of it is good. Parking has become an issue for shoppers and residents – mainly, there’s not enough in the lot for shoppers so they park on the street and now residents are upset.
The article CBS Denver’s website is a series of statements that sound like a little bit like a play and a lot like life in general: 1. New things are exciting, and then reality sets in; 2. People get upset and start throwing around ideas for big solutions; 3. People just get used to it and go on with their lives.
1. “The novelty of the new Trader Joe’s location in the old University Hospital neighborhood is wearing thin for residents.”
2. ‘“We need to see where the cars are going to go, what kinds of parking signs we need. We need to educate people about parking. We need to enforce the heck out of it,” said City Councilwoman Mary Beth Susman.’
3. “Residents suggested block extensions for their current parking permits but that would create issues for residents who live on other blocks. City officials said there is no easy answer.”
Hopefully, the process runs its course quickly and everyone can get back to their shopping, free samples, and tiny cups of coffee.
Read the article here.
I commented in March’s Point of View on the class action lawsuit that is being raised against the City of Las Vegas and the city’s parking guru Brandy Stanley’s fight against it. Someone felt ‘wronged’ that parking meters were still ‘on’ when the signs said parking was free and a lawyer saw a way to hit the industry for big bucks. Brandy says that the streets are well signed and if people have a driving license they are required to read. She also noted that when she turned them off, she would receive complaints from people who said that the machine rejected their money. I would not like to be a lawyer facing Brandy in court.
Its happening again in Los Angeles. The legal beagles are jumping up and down because the parking fines are too high — cruel and unusual punishment. Read about it here. (H/T to Mark for bringing this to my attention.)
The gist is this: Jesus Pimentel parked in downtown LA and received a ticket for $65. He didn’t pay it on time and it was bumped to $175. He didn’t pay that until he found that he couldn’t register his car until he did, so he paid it, under protest, and called a lawyer.
There are a number of arguments the mouthpiece used including the fact that the ticket itself was more than the minimum wage daily rate in California and with penalty, it was more than the average daily income of a California worker, AND the fines and penalties are more than nearby Pasadena and Glendale charge. So naturally it in violation of the 8th and 14th amendments to the US Constitution and California’s Constitution’s Due Process Clause. Sigh…
So we are saying that fines and penalties should be based on a person’s income, and not on the crime? How is it that Pimentel could afford a car, could afford to put expensive gas in it, could afford insurance and maintenance, but somehow couldn’t afford the parking fine…and refused to pay it until he found he couldn’t register his car until he did?
It seems to me that each municipality has the right to set its fines and penalties any way it likes. If a person doesn’t want to subject themselves to such they can
1. Not park there or
2. and here’s a unique thought, pay their parking fee and not overstay the time limit.
3. if they do, and get caught, pay the ticket on time.
This, much as the class action in Las Vegas, is a waste — a waste of time and money. It’s also a direct challenge to something we have far to little of these days, common sense.
In Pittsburgh, major political changes are brewing. What’s happened is that the city’s new mayor Bill Peduto has eliminated 242 of the free parking passes given out by the former mayor, Luke Ravenstahl. Mayor Peduto reports that free parking passes cost the Pittsburgh a million dollars a year – a million dollars that should be going to the city’s pension fund.
This could just be the act of man who’d much rather have a pension later than free parking now. Possibly he stands to benefit either way, but more so in the long run. Or it could be a savvy move by a man who sees himself as a civil servant who does not require a catalogue of perks to do his job. And it could be a man with the courage to tick off 242 people – many of whom work within the reach of his office – in order to secure funds that will be much needed in the future.
Either way, changing up parking privileges in such a drastic way is a political – or apolitical – step to take. Because Mayor Peduto has cancelled all nine of the free parking passes that were once used by his offices, I’m inclined to applaud his foresight and integrity, and hope the fallout is not as bad as it could be.
I say “bravo,” Mr. Mayor.
Read the article here.
When you reach ‘a certain age’ you spend more time at the doctor than you would like, and you probably have various specialists you visit regularly. If you are a man, one of these is a Urologist. Its often not the most pleasant visit, but periodic examination can save your life.
I was at mine last week when he attempted to distract me from what he was doing by asking me what I did for a living. I was about to say ‘enforcer for the mob’ just to get his attention, when I changed my mind and said: ‘I’m in the Parking business.’
He jumped up, pulled off his glove (I wonder if they consider that they save a lot of money on gloves since they use only one) and said ‘I was in the parking business, too.’
My appointment usually lasts about 10 minutes but this one was over 30, the last 20 filling me in on his experiences working for Herb Citrin and Valet Parking Service while he was a student at USC. He told great stories of parking cars for 95cents each at the Playboy Mansion and not being allowed to take a tip.
He added that if the driver insisted, he had to refuse three times. Then it was ok to take the tip. Sammy Davis Jr. shoved a $100 bill down his shirt (Sammy didn’t like to argue.)
The doc then went into business for himself and parked cars on a small lot in Beverly Hills. He noted that his biggest problem was his employees and keeping them honest. Do you know they actually parked cars without giving them tickets and kept the money? He graduated and went into a different business.
I went on my way, healthy and happy knowing that I had at least one connection with the doctor that wasn’t uncomfortable.
Cold weather forces people to make a lot of adjustments and even without the impact of the polar vortex, Boston’s Logan Airport faces a yearly surge of travelers trying to escape freezing temperatures. An annual school holiday puts thousands of extra people on the airport’s runways – they don’t have any trouble getting a flight, but the parking situation is a challenge.
Logan officials met the challenge head on with its valet parking program. According to the Boston Globe:
This week, the airport will valet 2,600 cars, paying bundled-up attendants overtime to take passengers’ keys, write down their license-plate numbers and return dates, and find a convenient spot for their vehicles before they get back. The service is free, included in the $27-a-day parking fee.
Logan is short on acreage and limited in its parking options. Shuttles ease some of the burden, but with 30 million flyers coming through each year and no new parking planned, the parking situation is less than ideal.
“We have to be more creative about how we solve these problems,” said Thomas Glynn, chief executive of the Massachusetts Port Authority, “because they’re not making any more land for Logan Airport.
Creativity is the name of the game in a crisis. It’s always great to see an organization doing the best they can with what they’ve got.
Read the article here.
When I read news articles about parking I’m always shocked by the concern parking industry policy makers show when the public voices its displeasure about paid parking. It’s a nice gesture, but is technically not necessary. Parking leaders might be sincere and they might be faking it, but I’m always surprised, because it’s not exactly the public’s decision whether their parking is free or costs $10, is it?
Palm Springs officials are dealing with a bad reaction to a recent decision to charge for parking at the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway. People are mad for a variety of reasons, including their claim that the city has not appropriately studied how charging for parking will increase operation costs at the tourist attraction. But it all comes down to them wanting free parking. Read the article here.
Nobody WANTS to pay for parking. Nobody likes paying for parking, and if given the choice, they’ll choose free parking 99.9 percent of the time – and I’m quoting my own poorly-conducted, but reliable research here. But plenty of people want to charge for parking and make a profit in their cities and parking operations. And because people have cars and like to go places where they need parking for those cars, it’s a symbiotic relationship, of sorts.
It’s a free market, so it makes sense to me that parking industry policies would reflect the actual supply and demand economics that run much of our country’s industries. If you operate a popular attraction and are the only parking operator at that attraction, you can charge for parking and parkers will just have to pay. Make the price fair so you don’t give people the feeling they are being exploited and people will get used to it pretty fast. They won’t be happy about it, but they’ll do it because they really want to get in that tiny box suspended by cable and go up 8,500 feet into the San Jacinto Mountains. Not my idea of fun, but who’s asking?
Sometimes you just have to make an executive decision and stop waiting for everyone to approve.
Of course this started in San Francisco, where else. The epicenter of high tech has come up with an app that will help you out of a parking ticket. Read all about it here.
It works like this — you snap a picture of your citation and send it to “Fixed” — yes that’s the name of the app. Currently a real live person checks out the citation and offers advice on how to beat it. These are legal reasons like the officer was mistaken, the information on the ticket was incorrect, etc. “Fixed” then provides recommendation and actually writes a letter you can send to the local parking office. If the citation is revoked, “Fixed” gets 25% of the fine. If it isn’t, they get nothing.
The legal beagles checking the citations (law students) have found the following:
Already, the app flags contested tickets into four categories of protest. There are factual errors – maybe the officer misinterpreted the day on the sign. There are legal errors, perhaps when a car is parked more than 100 feet from an applicable sign. There are procedural errors (maybe the officer wrote you a ticket before the street cleaner came through instead of afterward). And then there are what Hegarty calls “appeals to fairness.” He got a ticket once for having no residential parking permit, despite the fact that he had demonstrably applied for one two months earlier.
The firm’s founder says that they are aiming to automate the process as they get more information about citations and common errors.
So, what do you think? Is this a good thing or a bad thing? After all, if this catches on, it will cut into the revenue generated by parking citations. That seems like a bad thing.
Well, perhaps not. Anything that holds our activities up to scrutiny would seem to be a good thing. If it makes parking officers more accurate, brings inconsistent laws to light, and ensures that the data collected is correct isn’t that be a good thing.
I realize that supervisors might feel that this is a direct assault on the quality of their administration, but why not? If, as in San Francisco, 26,000 citations are thrown out each year, for various a reasons maybe an outside view might be in order.
And my guess is that if there are 26,000 now, just how many improperly written citations are paid because folks don’t want to go to the trouble of fighting city hall. The App makes this easier, and right now, they say 25,000 are on the waiting list to receive the app after the beta tests are over. If the word gets out, perhaps a larger number of citations will be reviewed by “Fixed” and who knows…
Sunlight is the best antiseptic.
I’m an American, and one thing that says about me is that I like my parking plentiful and I like it free. I also talk loud, wear clunky white sneakers and eat junk food like a seagull – at least, according to some stereotypes.
But if you’re going to take away my parking, please use it for something I like better than parking – a park. Wide open spaces are another typically American affinity, and one that’s not embarrassing.
In the French Quarter of Vancouver, British Columbia, local businesses are putting up the funds to turn two parking spots into a parklet. The parklet will become an open space for residents and visitors to eat or rest or read and will feature a “bicycle bar” that riders can pull up to without getting off their bikes. The parklet’s supporters hope it will create a sense of community and encourage people to socialize, relax, and spend a little money in the neighborhood.
“Everyone in the buildings and homes around signed onto the project. We got an enormous amount of support. In terms of opposition, I met only a single person who said they weren’t interested in losing the parking,” said Anne-Geneviève Poitras, the sponsor of the parklet, which will measure about about 27 square metres.
In Vancouver, three parklets have already been put in place and six more are planned for 2014. I like it and I hope it’s a trend that other Americans can embrace, too.
Read the article here.