This is a winner — The city of Jacksonville has actually passed an ordinance that promotes feeding meters and and allows folks to move their cars from meter to meter. Read the story here. Its my next nominee for the coveted "City by the Bay Award" for the most incredibly misguided parking rules, regulations, or ordinances. This gem was sent in by a periodic reader of the Parking Blog
You have to read it carefully. Here’s my parsing:
The downtown area is having problems. Probably there are a couple of malls on the edge of town and folks are shopping there. So the downtown merchants are grasping at anything they can to promote new business and of course the first thing they see is parking.
The city currently takes all the money from meters and fines and drops it into enforcement and the general fund. Although the head of the Jacksonville Economic Development Commission understands that the new ordinance may (will) cause the problem to be worse, he’s willing to go along because of politics, which most likely affect his job.
His next comment is a real winner — He wants enforcement to be "tolerant and to use discretion." He doesn’t want a ticket to be written 30 seconds after the meter goes into violation. He didn’t, however, tell the city just what he wants. Does he want it to be a minute, 90 seconds, five minutes. How bout an hour? He wants enforcement officers will better skill sets. You know, officers who can decide on the spot just who is to get a ticket and who isn’t. Maybe if its an expensive car, the officer can assume that the person is spending a lot of money downtown so they should be given a pass, but they guy driving the Yugo should get the ticket. Or maybe, it should be the opposite, after all, the fancy car driver can afford the ticket and the Yugo rider can’t.
It gets more absurd in the last line of the story. "We want to improve consistency…" HUH? Just a minute before he wanted the enforcement officers to be tolerant and use discretion and now he wants consistency.
My question is how are they going to enforce the new ordinance anyway. If you are allowed to feed meters, how is the enforcement staff going to know if the meter has been fed or not? What they are doing is simply making it legal for downtown employees to feed meters and park all day long taking spots needed for customers. OK, vendors, don’t write in telling me there are ways to do it. I know there are, but the concept of feeding meters and being able to move your car one space and carry on doesn’t solve anything, and makes matters much worse.
My solution, Jacksonville is four fold.
First — Take all the money collected from parking downtown and put it into a downtown development district to clean up, fix up the downtown area and promote downtown merchants.
Second – Remove Parking requirements so existing buildings can be used for whatever use they want, so a trendy shop, restaurant, or bar can go into that former hardware store that is sitting empty.
Third – Motivate merchants to an "if you build it they will come" attitude and give people a reason to come downtown.
Fourth – Set on street parking pricing higher than off street pricing so people are motivated to park off street and there is plenty of on street parking for those who want it.
Join the Shoupista revolution.