Let's face it, drivers in this city already view the city's parking regulations and the hefty fines that can accompany running afoul of them as little more than a cash cow for the city, a way to up the city coffers without raising taxes. Does the city really need to recoup $45 if you're parked in a metered spot 10 minutes longer than what you paid for?
Obviously the rules need to be enforced, and there needs to be a stiff enough penalty to make sure that drivers follow them, but in recent years enforcement has gone overboard. Last week, the City Council passed legislation that would correct that, at least partially.
First, the council passed a bill that would make it possible for traffic enforcement agents to void a ticket that is given to a driver while he or she walks to the muni-meter to pay for parking. The fact that someone could get a parking ticket while they walk to pay for parking is absolutely absurd, but under the current regulations, once the ticket is issued, there is no going back, even if a driver can produce a receipt from the muni-meter.
This is a completely underhanded tactic, and not only are we sure that it happens, as ridiculous as it sounds, we actually know people that it has happened to. It's especially unfair considering the city is pushing to install muni-meters across the city in areas that currently have metered spots, presumably because using muni-meters allows more cars to park.
But how can the city in good conscience insist and promote the use of muni-meters, and then ticket drivers because they have to walk, in some cases, from their car to the middle of the block to buy a receipt and then back to put it on their dashboard, and then issue them a ticket while they complete a process the city has forced them to undertake?
It doesn't make sense.
Secondly, the City Council passed a bill that would forbid the Department of Sanitation from putting those large neon green stickers on the windows of cars when owners forget to move them on alternate side parking days. Not only do you get a fine, but you also get to drive around with a large sticker on your car.
And those stickers are no joke.
We have been driving all over the northeast and seen cars on the interstate that had the tell-tale signs of those stickers, about half of it scraped off, the other half hopelessly stuck on the window.
It's a ridiculous way to enforce the law, embarrassing those who break it so they are all supposed to feel the collective shame of the city. On the contrary, we're pretty sure that whenever a fellow motorist sees a car with one of those stickers on its window, we don't feel outrage, we feel sympathy.
We don't even use public shame as a deterrent for violent crime, why would we do so over alternate side parking?
Beyond that, the stickers are an obvious safety hazard, creating a blind spot for a driver.
It's time to end both of these practices.
The City Council has taken the first step, now it's up to the mayor to sign the legislation and make it official.