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Clark: Council should throw downtown parkers a bone

Thu., Feb. 3, 2011, midnight

Anyone who has ever raised a piddling puppy knows how important it is to praise the brainless little yapper on those rare occasions when it does the right thing.

So I’d like to say the following to the Spokane City Council:

“You’re a goood Council. Yes you are. Yessss you are. You’re a very gooood Council. Dougie loves you. Yes he does. He really does. Goood JOB!!!”

(I know. That’s embarrassing. But it’s always essential to speak down to the critter’s level of understanding.)

Anyway, the council deserves positive reinforcement for not going along with an idiot proposal to up the fines on parking violations from $15 to 25 smackeroos.

This fee hike was proposed by Joe Shogan, the council’s alpha dog and president.

Now I like Joe. He’s a spirited mutt whose bark is always worse than his bite.

But he made a no-no on our civic carpet with this parking fee plan.

Bad Joe. Baaaad Joe!

Sometimes what passes for inspiration in this burg boggles the brain.

Let me spell it out for you.

The city’s downtown business core is in survival mode.

If the Spokane economy was a blizzard we’d be in a Level 12 Snow Emergency.

Upping the penalty on expired meters would be just one more disincentive for shoppers to come on down and spend some dough.

Bigger parking fines?

Why not just stick up a big sign at Post Street and Main Avenue offering consumers convenient directions to NorthTown or the Spokane Valley Mall?

Here’s a better idea. How about once a month the city of Spokane offers – ta dah! – Free Parking Meters Saturday.

Don’t worry about tickets, folks. Just come downtown and shop, shop, shop!

I call it a nostalgic nod to the cheaper good ol’ days.

A few details would have to be worked out, sure. The meter patrol, for example, could mark tires and ding any piggy who stayed at one meter beyond two hours, say.

I’m not naïve. I know the city’s appetite for raking in revenue is far too insatiable to ever embrace Free Parking Meters Saturday.

Plus this fee-raise malarkey is hardly gone.

The puppies on the council merely decided to table the notion until they can gnaw on the data from a parking study.

Well, I’ve been conducting my own Spokane parking study for the last 25 years and the council can have my results for nothing.

What I’ve found is that a lot of people around here suffer from a psychological disorder known as parkaphobia. In layman’s terms, this is an abnormal fear of parking meters.

Most parkaphobes can be found living east of Havana.

I’ve actually encountered Valley residents who haven’t ventured into downtown Spokane since Expo ’74.

When you press them for an explanation it’s always the same.

“Parking meters. Parking tickets. Ahrrrrgghh!!”

Plenty of parkaphobes live in the city, too.

I don’t get it. But that’s the way it is around here.

Our city leaders need to do whatever they can to keep the downtown as shopper-friendly as possible.

Raising the fines on parking violations is NOT the way to accomplish this.

Bad Joe. Baaaad Joe!

Doug Clark is a columnist for The Spokesman-Review. He can be reached at (509) 459-5432 or by e-mail at dougc@spokesman.com.


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