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Howard's Commentary - Be Realistic About Parking

City leaders need to address reality as it as and not how they want it to be.

Wheeling council's recent increase in overtime parking fines won't do any harm but won't make much difference in the parking problem.

People don't overstay at meters because it's cheap, they do it because it's convenient.

  • Carrying change is no longer the norm, so we don't have the coins to use for perpetual plugging of meters (this is especially true for millennials who often use debit cards for everything)
  • Other than "event" or "all day" parking, most of us avoid parking garages. Council heard that argument in their recent public hearing

"Some people don't like to park in the garages because of the fear. Let's be real here," Ballouz said during the public hearing that began the Tuesday council meeting.

"I don't go into parking garages — I just don't," Brennan added. (Wheeling Intelligencer 4/19/17)

Some folks have snidely commented: if you don't break the law, this doesn't affect you. Which is true. But if the "law" ignores reality of how drivers actually act, it only encourages scofflaws.

Much of the concern seems to be about employees using prime parking spots which should be available to customers. Seems to me that is an issue for the employers to deal with. Perhaps offer an incentive to their workers to park elsewhere, share cost of garage parking, or simply make it a condition of employment that they not use prime meter spaces.

And there's a paternalistic bent to some of the comments I've seen supporting the fine hike.

"If you know you're going downtown just get some change for the meters".

No. I don't carry change and I'm not adjusting my life because the City can't come up with better way of handling parking.

"You should walk more because it's healthy. So stop complaining about garages".

Piss on you. If I want to walk, I will but I don't expect the city to force me to.

Consider credit card kiosks, downtown trolley service, outlying "employee only" parking lots.

(I might note the biggest problem in town is probably around city hall. They closed an entire street to allow police and administrators convenient parking. Devote the same kind of thought to other city/county employees.)

These aren't recommendations, just top of mind ideas that popped out.

Council says raising fines was a first step--and I believe them.

But you'd better get to step 2 quickly because this step doesn't address the problem.

And pay attention to how people ACTUALLY live, not what your vision of how they SHOULD be living.

As The Intelligencer recently editorialized

"Parking, in short, needs to be viewed as one of the city's top-priority challenges for redevelopment. The sooner a start is made at addressing it, the better."