One of the annoying things a town can do is ticket cars, like yours, in the shopping district. It drives people crazy, sends a negative message to the shopper, who vows to "never shop in that town again."
During my four years in office in Montclair I got many parking tickets. My usual places for morning business meetings invariably were in "1 hour parking" zones and, well, it's difficult to finish up a meeting in one hour, what with the walking to and fro.
Yesterday on my way home from one of my favorite plant places -- The Farm -- I stopped off in Madison, NJ. I've written about Madison before. It's one of my "ideal" downtowns. And one of the things about Madison is that there are no meters. There are "1 hour parking signs," which make one aware of the time constraint, but no meters.
The streets and shops are also lovely, with wide sidewalks (totally litter free), "historic" benches, recycling receptacles, flower baskets, and such. The town clearly welcomes shoppers!
I've also been to other towns, such as Ithaca, NY, that although they do have meters, the meters are totally automated so they can give you a "warning," rather than a fine.
I pursued an elaborate study of the Montclair Parking Authority with the help of Glenn Rogers, an experienced, in-town consultant who produced a wonderful report. It was probably completed a year ago. One of his points was that parking should support the economic development of the town. Parking should support the town's goals. Parking shouldn't exist for the goal of raising revenue.
Right now, the parking enforcement officers are directed to ticket cars. Being sensible, they ticket the easiest ones first. Cars that are over time a few minutes. Or cars parked around the High School ("like ducks in a barrel"). Or cars parked at broken, or inoperative meters.
Hopefully the attitude will change some day. Perhaps if the parking authority had increased revenue, and increased efficiency, management could direct parking enforcement to "give a little" with over time. But as things stand now, I doubt it. Last Holiday Season saw endless hours of discussion of whether or not the town should have free parking around Christmas. It was a hard sell.
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