Thursday, June 25, 2009

Bad Parking Policy

Bear with me. This first one will be a longish blog, the ones that follow, not so much. Mostly pictures.

The 600 block of N Water Street is a busy place during the day. Not so busy at night except on Friday and Saturday late, when the weird club is open. The city in its wisdom has seen fit, for as long as I've been working downtown, to forbid parking between 3:30 and 5:30 pm so the street is clear for rush hour (as if we have any) traffic. In theory, though unnecessary, this is fine. But in practice it is not workable nor fair.

I have worked downtown for more than 30 years. For the last 25 or so I have had a window office on the second floor that faces the corner of Water and Wisconsin. Somehow, and what seems like suddenly, though in fact it's been several years, the parking checkers have multiplied like rabbits, or maybe lice is a better word. One day it just dawned on me that we had a much larger force and they were vicious about their job. If you park downtown and your meter expires, you WILL have a parking ticket. And if you come out in the course of the ticket being written, you have no chance of talking him or her out of it.

Granted, it is not a nice kind of job and I imagine that they get a lot of flack a lot of the time and so may be somewhat immune to the misery that they inflict on people. But I have witnessed the scene hundreds of times over the years and have only once or twice seen someone walk away from a ticket. Though I have to say, in the defense of meter readers that I know for a fact that some of the parking checkers have allowed people to park all day with out giving them tickets at all. The abortion protesters at the women's clinic in particular enjoyed immunity from certain of the meter readers. Especially one woman who would stop to have a cigarette while she chatted with the protesters. After seeing this occur 3 or 4 times, I suggested she get to work, there were several meters that had expired just down the block. Oddly they all had anti-abortion stickers on them. Then I reported her. Whether this did anything I don't know but the abortion clinic is closed and I see her parked smoking on Plankinton near the freeway exit now with no one to talk to.

So the city wants Water Street clear between 3:30 and 5:30 which I understand. Unfortunately they have not posted this anywhere except at the top of the parking sign at the ends of the street. The portion that informs the parker that there is no parking is approximately 4 inches by 12 inches. And there are 2 of them on the block so the city may feel that 96 square inches is appropriate warning for a block of parked cars but it seems woefully inadequate for the draconian results of parking there after 3:30. Furthermore, the new parking kiosk in the middle of the block where you pay for your parking spot is not situated near either sign nor does it tell you that you may not park there. It simply does not accept your money which causes most people to think it is not functioning (and in fact many do not) and people walk away. What will happen then is that you will IMMEDIATELY get a ticket for $50 (I think) and shortly after that you will be towed.

When you return to your car and it is not there, you have until 6 pm to get to the city lot to retrieve it. If you don't, you are out of luck.

The finish of this narrative tomorrow.

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