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Columbus Day may not be as big of a holiday as it once was: Fewer people have the day off with pay. There aren't any local parades. The weather's a bit nippy for picnics.
And then there's that whole legacy question about whether we should be celebrating an event that precipitated the decimation of many of the hemisphere's indigenous people.
But there's one reason to celebrate the whole “In 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue” thing.
It's a parking meter holiday in downtown Spokane. This is no doubt to celebrate the day when the Nina, the Pinta and the Santa Maria arrived off that island in the Bahamas and the inhabitants allowed him to park the boats there for free as a way to encourage tourism and shopping, and because the automated meters couldn't read Columbus' debit card.
Or something like that. Anyway, park downtown for free if you can find a space on the street that isn't occupied by some downtown office worker who usually parks in Browne's Addition to avoid the meters.
- parking meters
Over the last month or so, high tech “smart” parking meters have appeared in downtown Spokane, equipped with coin slots and credit card readers.
But yesterday, workers began installing sensors that will detect when a car comes and goes, zeroing out the meter when it leaves and beginning a countdown when it parks. Though the technology will also allow people to add a few extra minutes from afar via a smartphone app, the sensors have caused a stir among parkers.
In an earlier story, two members of the City Council referred to the sensor technology as “Big Brother,” but both said they supported the new meters.
The sensors don't look like much. They're just simple grey boxes strapped to the meter's post. But parkers beware: They're watching you.
Here's a news item from the Associated Press: BOISE, Idaho (AP) — The city of Boise is getting about 200 new parking meters designed to prevent people from parking on someone else's dime. The Idaho Statesman (http://bit.ly/16V2HDm) reports the city is installing about 200 new meters designed to prevent people from refilling meters or using up paid time left by a previous parker. The meters have sensors that can tell when a car enters or exits the space, and zero out the time when a car pulls away. City officials say the change isn't about increasing revenue, but rather about increasing the turnover of prime downtown parking spaces and encouraging long-term parkers to use garages.
Boise installed its first downtown parking meters in 1940, which pulled in more than $22,000 by the end of the year. Today, more than 1,200 meters collecting $1 an hour bring in about $620,000 annually. IPS Group Materials, the manufacturer of the new meters, says that resetting the meter when a car leaves general results in increased revenue of 20 to 40 percent. The first batch of new meters will be installed around the State Capitol, City Hall and other popular downtown spots. The city plans to replace 811 meters over the next four years. A fee increase may also be in the works: The City Council will hold a public hearing this week on whether the parking fee should increase to $1.50 for the first hour and $3 for the second hour, with a two-hour maximum.
Meanwhile, KBOI2 News reports that the city also is looking at enforcing metered parking downtown on Saturdays, which is now free, and extending hours for meter enforcement from the current 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., both weekdays and Saturdays. You can read their report here.
Read the City Council memo here on the proposals; it calls for a pilot project for the new evening and weekend enforcement hours to run for six months or a year in the area bounded by Myrtle, Jefferson, 10th and 5th streets, basically the heart of downtown Boise.
What do you get when you combine a bad idea, a disregard for local control and a highly questionable motive? You get something like Rep. Joe Palmer’s ill-conceived legislative trifecta: his bill to disable parking meters near the Statehouse during the legislative session. Palmer, R-Meridian (pictured), has been quiet during four years in the Statehouse. But his first attempt at high-profile legislation is a not-ready-for-prime-time effort … Palmer says his idea is to provide free parking to allow Idahoans to attend hearings or talk to their lawmakers. But constituents would have to get up early in the morning to snag a free spot. The bill creates a first-come, first-served free-for-all for the coveted freebies, with Downtown workers and Statehouse lobbyists and reporters likely to avail themselves of the coveted spots/Idaho Statesman Editorial Board. More here.
Question: What would happen if the city allowed unlimited, free parking in downtown Coeur d'Alene?
Idaho’s House transportation chairman, who successfully pushed a bill through the House last week to shut off parking meters around the state Capitol during legislative sessions, didn’t disclose that his 24-year-old son has gotten numerous parking tickets in the area and had his car towed on the first day of this year’s legislative session. Instead, Rep. Joe Palmer, R-Meridian, told the House, “The reason I’m bringing this bill is because I had a constituent come to me.” After city records obtained under the Idaho Public Records Law revealed the towing and numerous tickets incurred during or just before the legislative session by Ty Palmer, three of which remain unpaid, Palmer was asked by a reporter if the constituent in question was his son. He had a one-word answer: “No”/Eye On Boise. More here.
Question: Should Rep. Joe Palmer have disclosed information about his son's parking tickets when he introduced his bill? And/or: Have you received more than one parking ticket?
A plan to raise parking ticket fines at parking meters from $15 to $25 or $20 if paid within six days won't be decided until a new City Council is sworn into office.
Spokane City Council President Joe Shogan has pushed to raise the fee, arguing that Spokane's fines are low compared to many other cities of similar size. But the council has resisted and has said raising the fine is premature. Tonight, during the last meeting of the year, the council voted to push the decision on a fine increase to next summer.
The council voted for a delay after Councilman Jon Snyder said city employees believe that the costs associated with maintaining the city's parking system is more than revenue brought in from fines. However, he said, the city is making changes next year to save money. He argued that the council shouldn't vote on the plan until it's clear if current fines will cover costs.
So, I’m zipping down Division Street hill when I see a motorcycle cop parked near the bottom of the incline. I immediately braked, but it was too late. He pulled me over for going 45 in a 30, but in a burst of generosity, wrote the ticket for 10 above, instead of 15. I’ve been driving for 28 years and have only received ONE ticket— until recently. Last Mother’s Day I got a ticket out by Diamond Lake, and now this one.
When I finally arrived downtown, I pulled into a spot with an hour and half still on the meter. I always overfeed meters, ‘cause I know someone will use whatever time I don’t.
Obviously, I used up my ticket karma (I always drive too fast), but I’ve got parking meter karma to spare. Do you believe in karma?
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