Salt Lake City Council candidate Sherm Clow’s list of grievances about the monoliths of misery, aka the new blue parking meters, pretty well sums it up: They make it easier for the city to gouge citizens later into the night, even after those very citizens have bought and paid for the sidewalks, the road and the parking strips where the meters reside [“Meter Man,” Aug. 1, City Weekly].
They make a visit to downtown more costly and are “primarily a tool for businesses,” as Sherm says. It would seem that they are first and foremost a tool to line the city’s treasury, increasing parking revenues by double, up to more than $3 million in fiscal year 2012. The mayor’s spokesman, Art Raymond, says the fare increases are on par with cities similar to Salt Lake City. OK, so we follow the lemmings right off the cliff; makes a lot of sense!
But the article barely touched on the most aggravating aspect of these blue beauties. Clow noted that the meters “aren’t really making our lives better, but they are making them more complicated ...”
Complicated, indeed! Last week in front of a seafood place on 1300 East, an exasperated parker in front of me had punched buttons on Old Blue until he was blue in the face. Finally, on the second try, he got his receipt. “These things are such a pain in the ass,” he mumbled as he turned over the torture tower to me. I gave up on the third go-around, taking my chances with the meter maid, or butler—whichever.
My usual experience is that it takes a couple of attempts to get proof that you’re worthy to park in Salt Lake City. The displays are also hard to see in the sunlight, and the buttons have no audible or tactile signal they’ve been mashed hard enough—an impact hammer might be a handy implement to take along. And you have to navigate this all at the speed of light, or you’ll be kicked out, and the ride in the parking-meter clown car starts all over again. Being a double-jointed contortionist helps to fish the receipt out of the box.
Oh, for the good old days when it took just a couple of quarters, a turn of the handle and 10 seconds to feed the meter. How about Salt Lake following Logan’s example and send the meters to the metal recycling bin?