Due to a dozen decades of fragmented municipal government and a stack of statutes and ordinances, I don’t have much to do with parking meters — or parking tickets — in the City of St. Louis. Most people don’t understand this, so I get plenty of complaints, suggestions, and stories — mostly complaints, though — about parking meters.
Once in while, someone will ask me to “take care" of a ticket they got for letting a meter expire or parking in a No Parking zone. If I don’t have energy to explain that the parking division is under the direction of the City Treasurer or that doing so would be both wrong and illegal, I’ll just take the ticket and pay it myself. More usually, though, I give them the history course or the ethics lecture so, if you don’t want to hear them, don’t ask me to take care of your ticket.
I was reading a complaint emailed into this website today by a downtown worker who had gotten two tickets at once — one for parking in a yellow zone, one for parking in an unmetered space. He admitted his careless parking, but he wondered about the fairness of being cited for both violations.
I wish him good luck in his appeal, but I was more struck by a suggestion he sent back to the website staff. He wondered why downtown meters didn’t end earlier than 7 pm. If they ended even a couple hours earlier, he wrote, he would be more inclined to stick around and invite friends down to Side Bar or Kitchen K for happy hour (he called it "HH").
That’s a good suggestion. And I don’t see why my correspondent shouldn’t be able to have a beer, eat some wings, and buy a new hat without worrying about feeding a meter for an hour or two. So, tomorrow I plan to talk to the parking czar about the meters — and to the Downtown Partnership about encouraging more shops, coffee shops, and restaurants staying open after 4 pm.