Archive for Thursday, April 1, 2010

Parking habits

Eliminating special fines for habitual parking offenders will only worsen the downtown parking problem.

April 1, 2010


If the cost of a parking ticket isn’t high enough to provide a deterrent to overtime parking, the tickets might as well not be issued.

Lawrence city commissioners need to keep that in mind as they consider complaints from downtown merchants about issuing $50 tickets to people who habitually violate parking time limits. The fine is harsh, but it may not be unreasonable.

At their Tuesday meeting, commissioners received a petition urging the repeal of the law covering habitual parking violators. Under current law, the $50 tickets are issued only to people who already have received five parking tickets in the last 30 days. That means they aren’t going to customers who don’t understand downtown parking regulations. They are going mostly to downtown employees or residents who make an informed decision to park in a certain place based, supposedly, on how long they expect to be downtown.

Jeremy Furse, owner of Britches Clothing, is spearheading the repeal movement, saying the fine makes it harder for downtown businesses to hire and retain good workers. He said he doesn’t want to do anything that would encourage employees to park in prime spots along Massachusetts Streets or in two-hour lots along Vermont and New Hampshire streets, but eliminating the habitual violator tickets would do just that.

He specifically complained about an employee who received a $50 ticket for overparking at a five-hour meter along Vermont Street. That’s too bad, but if the employee expected to work an eight-hour shift, he should have parked in the city’s parking garage or at one of the 10-hour meters located slightly further from Massachusetts Street. He already had received five tickets within 30 days. He knew how the system worked; he simply made a choice.

The point of the $50 tickets is to encourage people to make different choices. Getting a $3 ticket each time they overpark probably doesn’t provide a strong enough incentive for habitual violators to kick the habit.

City commissioners agreed to consider a number of options to soften the habitual violator ordinance. They could raise the ticket total or count only unpaid tickets toward the five-ticket total, which doesn’t provide much additional deterrent. Another is to count only tickets issued on Massachusetts Street. To be effective the rule needs to apply at least to two-hour parking lots and meters. Perhaps five-hour and 10-hour meters could be exempt.

If employees don’t feel safe walking to their cars at night, that’s another problem. If employees feel that way, so do other people downtown. Businesses can give employees a break to go pay a meter or move their cars, but the bigger safety picture needs to be addressed so that anyone walking to their car at night can feel safe.

Given how restrictive — and expensive — parking is in many cities’ downtown areas, it’s almost silly how big an issue parking fines continue to be in downtown Lawrence. An employee who walks a block to work downtown may actually be walking a shorter distance than someone who has to walk across a large parking lot at a local industrial park or big box store. If they are getting tickets, it’s because they aren’t parking where they’re supposed to park or they aren’t paying the meters.

Keep some quarters in your car and leave home five minutes earlier. Park at a 10-hour meter or in the parking garage. Save the best spots for the customers who ultimately pay your salary.


grimpeur 8 years, 1 month ago

Yep. This edit is dead on.

Also, the Britches-in-a-twist dude had better worry more about whoever was driving his Scion wagon (with the company logo on it) like a freaking fool and less about whether his employees would rather choose to pay fifty than walk a block or two. Better watch it, chum. That's your name on the back of that idiotmobile.

imastinker 8 years, 1 month ago


Business owners need to recognize that customers pay their bills. It can be nice to go downtown, but parking can be a real issue, and walking is very inconvenient with lots of little kids. Say what you want, but those of us that live out of town have decisions. Leavenworth has a nice downtown too, and the legends are close too.

chocolateplease 8 years, 1 month ago

This editorial sounds very reasonable, especially given how cheap and plentiful parking is in Lawrence (it's free within just a couple of blocks of most everywhere here.)

My only comment is regarding safety. I agree that it's critical. I don't know how big of an issue it is here, but nobody should feel badly asking for help getting to their car if it's after dark and the car is in a remote spot. Employers and employees should feel responsible for each other, even if it means the minor inconvenience of driving a fellow-employee to his/her car, or waiting a few minutes to walk with them. Do employers talk with their people about this? Is there a number someone can call for an escort if they're alone and don't feel safe walking back to their car? Can the downtown businesses that do late-night work organize such a hotline?

As a downtown customer, I don't mind having to walk a bit, but thinking about the families with babies, young children, and elderly who frequent downtown, I don't think you should discourage them anymore than you already have by making convenient parking any less convenient. That means deterring employees from using the best parking for themselves, which is exactly what the high ticket charge for repeat-offenders does.

Michael Rowland 8 years, 1 month ago

If it's a safety thing, then why not just assign a few cops as escorts for employees at night?

1029 8 years, 1 month ago

Scared of downtown Lawrence at night? Really? Good luck making it through this big old scary world, then.

sourpuss 8 years, 1 month ago

Downtown Lawrence is only scary if you've never been anywhere but Lawrence. The parking garage is a 10 minute walk from even the most remote "downtown" store. In a big city, parking within 10 minutes of anywhere is good parking. During the Christmas shopping season, the most remote parking spot at Target or Wal-Mart is going to be about as far as the parking garage is, for many of the stores. If your employees are so lazy that they can't park a block or two away, wake up five minutes earlier, and leave the prime parking for the customers then you don't have good employees. Guess what? Lots of good people are looking for jobs now. Some of them don't even own a car. Oh, that's right, by "good employee" you mean a cute college girl with a manicure, daddy's SUV, and a "lovely" attitude. One thing I've noticed about many stores in downtown Lawrence, they seem to hire based on physical and not mental attributes.

Ken Lassman 8 years, 1 month ago

Uh, guys, you don't have to feed the meters after dark. They are free after 5.

somedude20 8 years, 1 month ago

I think they changed it to 6 PM now Doug

parker21 8 years, 1 month ago

Maybe if people knew the reasons behind the petition they would understand it a little better. 1) It was not the ordinance that was objected to, as much as the fact that the city didn't let anyone know that they reinstated it last July or that they had started enforceing it as of March 10th. A little warning might have stopped the whole problem. The city could have placed a seperate warning on any car at the time it was given the 5th ticket letting the owner know about the new ordinance and letting them know that their next ticket would be $50.00.

parker21 8 years, 1 month ago

It is not the $50.00 ticket that was the problem but the fact that every ticket from then on would be $50.00 until you go 30 days without a ticket. If you work in downtown you know that it is not easy to go 30 days without a ticket because there aren't enough 10 hour meters. Just ask the person that got 2 $50.00 tickets in one day. It happened to several people. None of whom knew about the ordinance.

parker21 8 years, 1 month ago

The reason that you dont have a problem finding a parking place near your favorite business is because the business owner and employees don't take up the good spots close to the stores. Sure maybe a few uninformed business owners or employees do but they are really just hurting themselves.
Next time you go downtown, Instead of a place next to your favorite business, try an experiment.
Try to find a 10 hour space., then you'll understand.

Britches100 8 years, 1 month ago

I guess this proves the old saying that no good deed goes unpunished. I just think that these fines are unreasonable and were put in place without any warning. I took it upon myself to try to change it.. I did this in the way any citizen should by first seeing if others agreed with me. 770 did aprox 10 didn't so we went to the comission. The comission agreed to study it and that it may need to be changed.A little note to grimpeur? Britches has not had a car with a logo on it since 2005. We apologized and the driver of that car was fired when you called and complained about it 5 years ago.

gccs14r 8 years, 1 month ago

"it is not easy to go 30 days without a ticket because there aren't enough 10 hour meters."

I've never not been able to park on the roof of the parking garage. Downtown storefront parking is such a crapshoot that I often park in the garage, even if I'm just going downtown for lunch. If I can park in the garage, walk to Free State, eat, walk back to the garage, and get back to work in under an hour, downtown employees should have plenty of time to park there before work. Quit whining, do the right thing, and maybe your boss will stay in business and you'll keep your job.

William McCauley 8 years, 1 month ago

Hire the homeless to work as escorts to employees cars, then need the jobs and it will give them something to do besides pandhandle and bum somkes from people walking down the sidewalk.

thefisherman 8 years, 1 month ago

I think the warning that the people were doing something wrong is that they had received 5 tickets within thirty days. If that wasn't enough warning, getting a $50 ticket should be.

Don't whine that you didn't know the fines would go up. All you're doing is proving the concept behind increasing the fine! If you would have known, you wouldn't have done it. Well, now you know. Betcha won't do it again.

gccs14r 8 years, 1 month ago

Based on the online reviews for the store and the comments by the owner here, I would not want to be holding any of Britches' corporate debt.

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