Thursday, December 30, 2010

Gotcha!


So it comes as little surprise to me (see photo below) that our expensive town website--newly redesigned and indeed pretty spiffy--attracts a slew of visitors looking for information to pay their parking tickets. Because if you are one day over the 21 days allowed, the price more than doubles.

Gotcha again.

But from a public relations viewpoint I'm not so sure that is the kind of thing Amherst should advertise on the main page of the town website, which is quickly becoming the initial point of greeting with consumers, some of whom may be prospective residents.

Amherst has one of the highest property tax rates in the area; almost twice that of our next door neighbor Hadley--a farm community surprisingly welcoming of commercial business especially around Rt. 9, the main traffic corridor to the area's number one employer Umass.

Yet we enforce parking for profit the way a southern hicktown enforces speeding as a major contributor to municipal financing.

Sure, beleaguered small business owners in the downtown want efficiently controlled parking to allow for maximum turnover allowing more potential costumers threw the door, but it can also reach a point where folks will be turned off by the cold calculating overly efficient enforcement and take their business elsewhere, where the parking is free.


The Springfield Republican reports

Obviously an unhappy customer

11 comments:

S.P. Sullivan said...

Wow, that is weird how prominently (and CAPSLOCKED) the parking ticket link is.

I've never gotten a ticket in town - though I'm pretty sure I put another kid through college with the Parking Services scholarship I contributed to at UMass.

LarryK4 said...

Yeah, I paid a bunch of those back in the day--after Umass got smart and tied payment of tickets to issuing your diploma.

One reason I'm glad most of my course load this past year has been online.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, you've never been very good at following rules. Rules such as put money in the meter are just too restrictive for a free spirit like you. Then again, maybe you were just a cheapskate.

LarryK4 said...

Actually I did put in a quarter which should have given me plenty of time (although a very remote possibility it was a nickel) and as I only hung out at the Chamber of commerce office for exactly 20 minutes, as I had an appointment in another part of town...

Not worth fighting it though.

Anonymous said...

Let's see, you don't put money in a meter, then you don't mail the fine in on time, then you cry about how much you have to pay. Well, Wesley Snipes Jr., just stick a quarter in next time and quit whining.

LarryK4 said...

Actually none of the above.

And when I start taking advice from Cowardly Anon Nitwits it will be a around the same time folks take up skiing in the Sahara Desert.

Anonymous said...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aJUTQwQl9DM

Anonymous said...

A few years ago I made the mistake of parking in the then new above-ground lot, thinking the meters went off at 6:00 pm like most meters do. Silly me for thinking that. Got a ticket. That was the first and last time I ever parked there. Amherst gets my property tax money, water usage money, excise tax money. It won't get a penny more out of me, 'cause there ain't none left.

Ed said...

I don't shop in Amherst anyway -- so parking isn't a problem. WalMart has a lovely parking lot....

Anonymous said...

I once mistaken parked in one of the commercial parking spaces across Main St from town hall -- the ones that are reserved for commercial parking 24 hours a day/7 days a week (which seems a little much). There are only a handful of such on-street spaces in town (less than 6 total, I believe). Most of the other commercial spaces are reserved for commercial traffic only during certain hours with lots of deliveries, and I assumed (mistakenly!) that the space where I parked was the same. Ouch!

I didn't get any sympathy from the parking ticket hearing officer - has she ever approved a ticket appeal? - and thus ended up paying a big fine for a five-minute mistake.

I regularly see non-commercial vehicles parked in those same spaces, many probably with the same misconception as mine, and I am sure those spaces generate more parking revenue per space than any others in town.

When I paid my fine, I suggested that some of the $ be used to add a sticker or otherwise modify the signs to make it clear that those spaces are reserved at ALL TIMES. This suggestion was ignored, probably because it would decrease the spaces current revenue significantly.

LarryK4 said...

I made that mistake a couple years ago as well when I was late for a funeral in town center (having forgot the funeral home had free parking in the back)

You're probably right about those spaces generating the most revenues in the system via fines; and no, I doubt the parking director has approved very many appeals.