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Doug Clark: Here’s how Spokane can squeeze most pennies from parkers

More parking meters going up?

I had no idea we were short on parking meters.

Heck, I visit downtown Spokane all the time. I’ve used so many meters that I’ve developed a finger callus from shoving quarters into slots.

Guess this is why I’ve never been offered a cushy job with the city. No vision.

According to our news coverage, 225 more meters are going up. The meters, the story reported, will be installed near “hospitals and clinics, Lewis and Clark High School and West Main Avenue.”

Spokane should rake in between $30,000 and $50,000 a year from these no-arm bandits.

Not bad.

Especially when you factor in the nickels and dimes that will be fumbled by parkers in a rush to get to those aforementioned hospitals and clinics.

That may sound crass and greedy, but it’s how government economics work.

See, the city needs more and more money to pay for more and more things that we don’t really need, like buying only recycled paper or those fancy presentation coins that the mayor likes to give to cronies and fat cats.

The problem is that money is a finite resource. That’s why our leaders must keep coming up with more and more ways to keep the cash stream flowing.

To help out, I’ve come up with a new Comprehensive Parking Plan that, if consummated, should make our parking meters an even bigger windfall than those red-light scam cameras they stuck up at practically every intersection in town.

So let me introduce you to …

PHASE 1 – Once the 225 meters are installed, the city’s parking meter expansion will continue up the South Hill to the Manito Park Duck Pond.

Then, like flesh-eating bacteria, meter installations will creep east to the Spokane Valley border at Havana, west through Browne’s Addition and north to Colville.

PHASE 2 – Spokane’s 7 p.m. cutoff for feeding downtown parking meters will no longer be in effect.

From now on, downtown meters will remain hungry and operational until midnight.

This will help the city make a few bucks off anyone who is still dumb enough to come downtown for a movie, meal or late-night libation.

PHASE 3 – Downtown streets known for “heavy use” (Main, Riverside, Crack Alley …) will be set up with twice the normal number of parking meters.

Drivers using these premium spots will have to plug two meters at a time – once for the front half of their ride and once for the caboose.

Think about it.

Double the coins. Double the tickets.

Honestly, I can’t believe the city didn’t think of this one already.

PHASE 4 – Beginning in August, parking meters will be installed in the seventh-floor foyer at City Hall.

This is not for show. The meters will be there to charge anyone waiting to bother Mayor David Condon.

(Estimated annual revenue: $68.)

And finally …

PHASE 5 – No more downtown free parking on Sundays.

I don’t care if it is the Sabbath. This ain’t the House of Charity, you know.

This is the city of Spokane.

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


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