Wednesday, May 12, 2010

License readers and parking limits, no meters

Turns out that the principal reason for buying the license reading technology is not to enforce meter time limits. (The sound you're hearing is a deep sigh of relief from meter stuffers.) It's to enforce parking limits where there are no meters.

Everything I wrote about variable meter rates still applies. Instead of time limits to help encourage turnover, simply apply market-based rates that vary according to proximity to prime locations.

But, what about parking time limits without meters?

Simple answer: we shouldn't have them. Time limits that is. We should have meters.

It is practically gospel at Traffic Council that meters and residential areas don't mix. So, unless there are some exceptions, there are no meters in front of houses in Newton. The city gives away a valuable commodity. (If it's desirable enough to warrant parking time limits, it's got some value.) And, we end up with a variably enforced, all-or-nothing proposition: abide the time limit or pay a big fine.

It would be much better to use meters to create the kind of parking limitations we desire. Set a rate that will discourage the kind of parking that is objectionable. And, receive some reasonable tariff for using a valuable city asset the right way.

At the very least, meters in residential areas ought to be part of the toolkit, not something that we reflexively rule out.

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