They said it couldn’t be done. Or wouldn’t be done. At the very least, shouldn’t be done.
They tried to do it a few short years ago, and the representatives of the people refused to go along. It was decreed it would never be done.
Yet against strong public sentiment, good reason, and common sense, it was done.
And just like that, there’s no longer free parking for lunch downtown.
The beginning of the end came during the economic crisis of the twenty oh nine and twenty ten recession. The then-Bell administration helped balance the city budget by selling the city’s parking garages and on-street parking enforcement to the Port Authority. Once control of the parking situation was ceded, it was a matter of time before hotter heads would prevail.
Within a year, the inevitable proposal came forward. End free lunch parking. But a curious thing happened. City Council listened to the will of the people and pushed back. The proposal was defeated. Free lunch parking lived to fight another day!
Until now. Free lunch parking, RIP.
The Wade administration and supportive members of the current City Council insist the death of free lunch parking was for the good of downtown business, and not a quick source of enhanced revenue for city coffers. Never mind that downtown business owners didn’t ask for it and don’t seem to want it. The powers dat be insist it’s good for them, and they’ll get it, like it or not.
They tell us it’s to allow for parking turnover, so folks don’t take advantage of the privilege by squatting in a parking spot all day. This will free up spots for those who truly need them instead of the scofflaws and the wastrels.
This all got us to thinking. What other services that the city offers could be converted to pay-to-play to fend off those who waste the privilege?
Charge! The voice of progress?
The first choice is obvious. If we charge more for the parking along the sides of the streets, why not charge for the whole kit and kaboodle? Toll roads downtown. Use the enhanced revenue for roadside plantings and such. Don’t like it? Park at the mall and walk next time.
And why stop there? We’re pretty sick of those fire calls to get little Muffin and her feline friends down from the trees. There’s only one way to prevent it. Charge for every fire run. Don’t like it? Better organize a neighborhood bucket brigade, Sparky.
See the fun city leaders could have? Charge more for water! and double your pleasure by charging more for garbage pick up! Oh wait, they already thought of that. Chalk those two up to far-sighted money grabbers of days gone by.
Here’s a revenue enhancement idea they haven’t conjured yet. Leaf pick up has been far too lenient for far too long. Charging by the linear foot of road frontage misses the point. Want your leaves picked up? You want them all picked up? Count ‘em and place ‘em. We’ll charge by the leaf.
But wait, you say. Don’t our tax dollars already pay for the streets, for safety forces, for leaf pick up, and for all other city services?
How naive. What you really pay for is the privilege of being represented by those smarter than you. Who vote in your best interest. Who share your vision of the future of the city.
Just kidding. You pay for the privilege of being represented by those who have the stones to get you coming and going.