No free parking
Posted by eemilla on December 17, 2008
The December 10-16 MountainXpress has an article about the predatory towing in Asheville, and Jason Sanford could not have picked a worse parking lot for this story. I walk past the parking lot in question on Walnut fairly frequently, and their signs are not inconspicuous or missing. Additionally, the “victim” ate dinner at Zambra; out of extra concern for their patrons, the staff has at least one notice on the door warning people not to park in the lot beside the restaurant. The second reason this is a poor example is the proximity of not one but two large parking decks. The lot from which the “victims” were towed is adjacent to the Civic Center deck and across the street from the entrance to the Rankin deck. The story then mentions that the “victim” quickly found the phone number for the towing company on a sign warning people not to use the lot.
The problem with downtown parking is that one may have walk more than a few feet from the car to the destination. Another issue is that the parking is not free, but honestly, is it too much to charge one dollar for twenty-four hours of parking (if the exit occurs after 7pm)? If a couple goes to Zambra and The Bier Garden it should be fairly easy to drop at least one hundred dollars, so please spare me the complaints about downtown parking and predatory towing.
The city completed a study that does indicate the need for more parking downtown during the week, but the weekends have many more spaces available (although the core downtown stays pretty full). It would be much nicer and forward thinking to have more use of public transit and existing lots. What if businesses opened up their lots outside of their business hours? The city should either incentivize those businesses by allowing them a portion of the revenue garnered from meters or an additional tax should be levied on those businesses that would prefer not to open their lots. The hours available should a two to three hour window before and after the business hours of the location to be sure the employees of the business were able to park unhindered.
Another way to highlight our current public transit service would be the use of park and ride lots for downtown employees who might live outside of the bus service. The local hotels should get involved too by encouraging their guests to either use the public transit or operate shuttles so they can spare their customers the hassle of having a designated driver, parking downtown, or getting lost. Since everyone seems to agree that downtown parking is an issue, surely downtown businesses would be glad to forge partnerships with the hotels to share the cost of the shuttle.
Finally I have to gripe about the permit only spaces that line South Market behind the French Broad Food Coop and along Aston between Church St and Coxe. I do not drive by these spots during the week, but every Saturday I drive by to find them all empty. The signs warn that a permit is required Monday through Saturday from 8am-6pm; it seems the city should stop offering the Saturday option unless more revenue is collected which would help alleviate the core downtown issue for those willing to hoof it a few blocks.
If my vehicle were unjustly towed, I must confess I would not have the $150 plus dollars required to free it, and I do agree with the article that there should be regulation about how much can be charged in the event of a tow as well as varying the accepted payment methods. How outrageous to charge the $25 storage fee when the vehicle was recovered in what appears to be less than an hour.
Happy bus riding and walking!