A lot of questions are being debated in online comments posted with today's Road Worrier column about downtown parking.
Will Raleigh create new problems when it replaces free on-street parking in the central city with new-fangled coin-or-credit pay stations?
For that matter, will it solve any of downtown's existing problems?
More foolishness over the downtown district. Spend many millions of
taxpayer money trying to entice a few more people to come downtown, and
then take away the last free parking option. Only 16% of our jobs are
within a generous 3 miles of downtown Raleigh. ... platowasright
I imagine we'll still see all the spaces filled up with cars bearing
handicapped placards and perfectly healthy people walking away. - dwcatty
It's true that city and state officials and local police have done nothing to curb (oops!) the rampant abuse of handicapped parking placards. Easily one-third of the downtown street spots are hogged day in and day out by cars with handicapped placards, and clearly more than a few of these involve drivers and passengers who are not handicapped.
State law, and the city's interpretation of it, unfortunately allows handicap vehicles to park for unlimited time on the street, and to park in a metered space without paying a nickel. State law also allows a cop to ask the driver for paperwork that identifies the handicapped person who obtained the placard -- and to explain whether this person is riding in the car today, or not. So why don't the cops do this?
Caller Lynn Johnson of Smithfield points out one problem: the NC DMV, which issues the placards, does not give out a brochure or publish on its website anything explaining how the law works, how you're supposed to use it and how you're not. (It's legal if the registered handicapped person is driving or riding in the car, but it's not legal for friends or relatives to use it without the handicapped person.)
And what about the city's plan to install those pay stations? Right now Raleigh uses two versions of these machines, as pilot projects, on short stretches of Hargett and Hillsborough streets.
They don't always work, and they're hard to understand. What will happen when these machines take control of parking for 1,000 spaces in the heart of the city?
I am a graduate student at NCSU and I park on Hillsborough Street three days a week. There are three meter boxes on the block in front of North Residence Hall and two of them have been out of order since 11/08. The third box either has no paper or no ink. You either get no receipt or a blank one. Besides having to walk an entire block to pay the meter (if you are parked at the other end), you have no proof that you paid to park.
I had one instance last Fall when I paid to park for one hour and 20 minutes after I paid, I had a ticket on my window. The only proof that I paid was my receipt, so you can see why it is so important to get one. It saved me from a ticket! Why haven’t the meters been repaired? Does it really take 6 months to fix them?
I went on the City of Raleigh website and sent an e-mail to the person listed as being in charge of parking and the e-mail was returned for invalid address. I have called the city twice and left messages. Neither of them was returned. What is going on?! - Amanda Dean (by e-mail)