The Lewistown, PA City council has decided that the removal of a $3 reduction in parking fines for overstaying a meter won’t bring an end to civilization as we know it. In this central PA city, if you pay your parking fine within 24 hours you pay $2 instead of the original $5. Those of you in New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, and the rest of the US are assuming I have left off a preceding 5,6, or 7 from the numbers above.
Nope, that’s it — in Lewistown if you overstay at a meter and pay within 24 hours, your fine is $2. The detractors from the move were echoing the familiar refrain — People won’t come downtown to shop if we don’t have this lower fee. We must be customer friendly.
Well, the council understood a number of things — first — the amount was ludicrous. Many people overstayed and simply paid the $2. No big deal.
Second — the fine isn’t enough to make a difference in the first place. Enforcement has to have a bite or its doesn’t really work. Hell, merchants and their employees could park downtown, pay the fees daily, and have a parking space in front of their stores for $40 a month. Not a bad deal.
Third — To make on street parking work, the charges have to be high enough to force people into off street spaces. Turnover is what makes onstreet attractive.
Fourth — My favorite — Don’t blame parking if people don’t want to shop downtown. Give them a reason to shop there and they will come. Compete — don’t whine and fix blame.
Good for you Lewistown city council. Keep up the good work. Maybe your next action could be to raise the fees paid for breaking the law.