New Possibility in City: Punishment for Parking

According to the new rules laid out by the Mayor’s Office today, you can legally park your car, put your change in those goofy meters downtown, and the city can legally strap a boot on it if you have just two outstanding parking tickets.

Yep, it sure is possible here. Though rumor has it that if you’re in tight with the Mayor, you get a special code to get your tickets taken care of. If only.

The city’s parking authority says there are 10,000 such vehicles cruising around with at least a couple of unpaid tickets. Oh, and they’re jacking up the rates for violations, too. It goes into effect Oct. 1.

The new rules are stricter than they have been. Where you once had to be parked at an expired meter, now any meter maid can run your plates at anytime, find you haven’t paid two tickets, and boot strapping you go. Seems a tad harsh. And check out this quote from PARC’s Cathy Duncan, sounding like a smug schoolteacher admonishing first-graders.

“The boot has been a very effective method of encouraging people to follow the city’s parking laws. However, some people have still not heard the message.”

David Mour, a downtown attorney who filed a lawsuit over the way the city enforces parking violations in 2007, says the new rules are too strict, and says that if the city follows through with its new stricter parking penalties, he’s prepared to challenge the law in court.

“You can be parked legally with time on the meter and still get the boot,” he said. “I don’t think that’s right.”

Here’s my complaint.

The easy answer, of course, is to tell parkers to simply pay the meters. But meters require change, and a lot of people don’t carry around change any more. And there’s no place to get change downtown. I’ve tried. Should I not go to my appointment because I don’t have a quarter? Do you think we’ll be the last metropolitan area to modernize our system?

City governments in other places have recognized this fact, and installed meters that accept plastic. Or there’s a kiosk every 10 spaces or so that can handle a transaction.