Friday, December 1, 2006

More on Overnight Parking

Its only slightly ironic that we return to the winter ban on overnight parking the day after a record high of 69 degrees. (Original item.)

Turns out, there is aldercritter attention to the ban: a pending docket item, #222-06, proposing to start the ban later and end it earlier. Aldercritter Parker sponsored another item, proposing to lift the ban except in snow "situations," but I cannot find the item on any committee agendas or reports. The snow situations would include a risk of snow and existing, uncleared snow.

The start-later/end-earlier item is before the Public Safety and Transportation Committee and was most recently discussed on October 18. The minutes are, unintentionally, hilarious.

Justifications for the overnight ban:

* Slipperiness -- Between November and April, black ice and wet leaves can make roads slick. Sounds like an argument for banning driving.
* Preventing crime -- When there are fewer cars parked on the streets, fewer cars are broken into. Sounds like an argument for a year-round parking ban.
* Catching crooks -- When there are fewer cars parked on the streets, there are fewer places for criminals to hide. Sounds like an argument for removing trees, bushes, fences, houses, dumpsters, doors, &c.
* Sweeping streets -- The overnight ban facilitates street cleaning. I wasn't aware that streets were cleaned between 2 and 4 AM.
* Plowing snow -- The ban reduces the number of cars that have to be plowed during fall and spring snowstorms.

In all seriousness, the first four, absurd arguments simply establish that the ban is overly broad for its one legitimate purpose and that the rest is just pretext. I mean really, does the DPW actually believe that the overnight parking ban is a fair trade-off for making it a little easier to sweep my streets once-a-month or so? Wouldn't, say, designated street-cleaning days work a little better, since they would also apply to people who parked after 4 AM and before 2 AM, which I've got to believe constitutes most on-street parking?

The bottom line is that technology has rendered unnecessary a blanket ban from November through April. There are a half-dozen ways that the city could cheaply and effectively communicate a snow situation and ban overnight parking. If the city reasonably limited the number of nights that overnight parking is banned, the hours of the ban could be lengthened (midnight to six?), making it more narrowly tailored and more effective.

The item is on the committee agenda for 12/06 (PDF). (Search for "222-06" as the item doesn't mention parking, only the number of the ordinance at issue.)

E-mail, call, or write aldercritters Samuelson (Chair), Lennon, Linsky, Burg, Harney, Danberg, Vance and

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