The More Times Change, the More They Stay the Same

A city councilman in Austin, TX, was talking about expanding parking meters in the city. He noted that the meter was invented in the 1930s primarily because employees were taking all the parking spaces downtown and customers had no place to park.

Council Member Mike Martinez, after meeting with a variety of downtown interest groups that opposed expanded parking hours, had proposed moving the northern boundary to Eighth Street . That would have allowed lower-paid downtown workers at bars and restaurants to find free spaces, provided they were willing to walk a few blocks.

But after Council Member Chris Riley gave the council a brief history of parking meters — he said they were invented in Oklahoma City in the mid-1930s because downtown workers there were using up all the available on-street spaces — Riley, Mayor Lee Leffingwell and Council Members Bill Spelman and Sheryl Cole stuck with the 10th Street boundary.

“It is very different than just collecting revenue,” Riley said. “It is about managing a scarce resource.”

Of course his last sentence is correct, but most cities don’t see it that way.

I’m still fighting city hall about them not allowing me to park in my driveway (They call it a parkway and are issuing citations all over my neighborhood.) One of my neighbors accosted a PEO and he said he agreed the rule was crazy, but then he said “the city needs the money.”



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