'I Don't Pay Parking Meters' | Private Eye | Salt Lake City | Salt Lake City Weekly
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News » Private Eye

'I Don't Pay Parking Meters'

End parking meters in Salt Lake City.


In case you missed my June 3 invite of last week to join me in Greece for 10 days of naked bacchanalia and debauchery, there’s still time to sign up. Actually, the only naked bacchanalia and debauchery we’ll officially endorse is that which appears on the many ancient ceramic vases—and sometimes statuary—on display in Athens’ museums and which I intend to direct our group to. One thing about those ancient Greeks—not only did they build a great civilization, they were arguably the world’s first pornographers, too.

I’m not talking Venus de Milo here or the typical naked Adonis. That’s pure artistry. I’m referring to the tendency of some of those ancient pottery artists to get a tad graphic. Not that I mind. It’s just a bit jarring to imagine liquid being poured from an anatomically correct spout or to drink from a cup with drawings of warriors waging war with private parts. Or maybe they weren’t waging war. No matter, I’ve seen worse at your run-of-the-mill Little League baseball game.

Anyway, as I mentioned before, there’s still time to sign up for the trip. Ten spots have been filled in just one week, and we will only take another eight to 10 more. With the euro falling, this is a great time to see Europe and Greece. Call Murielle Blanchard at Black Pearl Luxury Travel for details. Hope to see you there.

We’re going to learn a lot, like how Greeks have a different way of viewing things. In England, if a sign says to create a queue for a bus, the polite English line right up. In Greece, the concept of a line is not understood: At a bus stop, all is calm until the bus arrives, then it’s every man, woman and yiayia for him or herself. In England, a sign says to stay off the grass, and the polite English do so. In Greece, that’s an invitation to trod. No smoking you say? No way in Greece, where not only are rules derided, there is also a minor proclivity towards outright civil disobedience—like ignoring any and all traffic signals.

I myself carry that trait toward civil disobedience. I don’t speed, as that’s unsafe, and I do pay my parking tickets. What I don’t pay is parking meters. I can’t say never, but far more often than not I just don’t put anything in Salt Lake City’s parking meters. Sorry, Mayor Ralph, but I’m not going to pay into a screwed-up system. Here’s why: Even when I do pay, I’m just as likely to get a ticket.

For example, if you arrive at a meter at 7:30 a.m., what do you do? Pay for an hour only to have it expire at 8:30 a.m.? Or, get up mid-omelet and feed the meter again? Yeah. Who does that, especially if it’s a business meeting? Who wants to return to a table of cold eggs and unsigned contracts?

I began by not paying for metered parking in the mornings. What I discovered was that I rarely got ticketed. The only reason I noticed before was that I was pissed off at paying the meter and still being ticketed. That’s what sociologists—and bartenders—call an anger event. It just seemed like I was getting a lot of tickets. Then, I did the math. My tickets were costing me $10, but I was getting tickets less than 1 in 10 times. Eureka! If you park downtown often, it’s actually cheaper to get a parking ticket and pay it than to regularly pay a parking meter.

Before long, I began parking anytime and anywhere without paying the meter. I figure I’ve saved at least $100 bucks so far this year alone—not even counting the time I had left on the meter that the city never gave me credit for in the first place. It’s possible the city got wise, because now a parking ticket costs $15. Maybe it’s been so the entire time and I never noticed, but it doesn’t matter. Even with a $15 parking ticket, I beat the odds and save money. Mayor Ralph’s street patrol still doesn’t catch me 1 in 15 times, and every minute after 60 is bonus time since that would have cost me more than $1 dollar to park in that instance.

I don’t feel bad about it at all. I read in today’s Salt Lake Tribune that the city is so upside down, it is haggling over whether to properly fund the International Peace Garden on 900 West. What a travesty that would be! I love that place, and have ever since a grade school field trip in the 1960s. Can you imagine a garden without flowers? Mayor Ralph can. But, I can’t. The city says it’s not collecting enough sales taxes and has to make cuts.

Here’s what you do, Mayor Ralph—follow your Christmas example and allow free parking downtown year round. If free parking generates holiday sales, doesn’t it imply free parking will attract commerce year round? Quit squawking about people who get tickets and don’t pay them. Generate sales! Don’t ask consumers to cut their sales journey short because they have to leave to feed a meter. Downtown workers will hog the spots? They already do. But most downtown workers will continue to park in lots near their place of employ instead of circling a block looking for a free spot. At least a consumer will have half a chance to spend a dollar in our fair city, and besides, shouldn’t they have parity with bike riders?

Oh, and about those meter cops—turn them into volunteer Good Will Ambassadors. Salt Lake City can buy lots of flowers with the savings.

John Saltas: