Many years ago, I was standing on the balcony of our old office at 68 W. 400 South (now buried under the new federal courthouse, which is, in my mind, the ugliest building ever built in Salt Lake City), probably smoking a cigarette while pacing back and forth waiting for the mailman to deliver his daily bills and payments. I did that daily, a ritual that would settle whether we had enough money to get by till the next day or if I had to run out and beg, borrow and steal our way through another 24 hours. Anyway, as I was pacing, a car below stopped and, as was ritual then and ritual today, the occupant got out and fidgeted with the parking meter.
I remember clearly who it was because I caught two distinctive features of the man: his bald head and his confusing facial demeanor that caused one to never know if he was scowling or grinning. I was only a few feet above him, and that's as close as I ever got to former astronaut, Utah Senator and Salt Lake City Mayor Jake Garn.
Even then, it was part of my daily humor to watch folks become befuddled by our parking meters. It became a habit no less than the habit that hung from my lips. Now, long since having quit smoking, I just watch the freaky parking-meter dancing, always paying attention to how people react when they park on a Salt Lake City street. And no less today than 20 years ago, when Jake Garn shrugged and began his walk toward Main Street—I presume to the former federal courthouse—people are fed up and frustrated with street parking in downtown Salt Lake City.
Thanks, Mayor Corradini. Sincerely. She was so engulfed in the Bonneville Pacific scandal and later the infamous Giftgate scandal that I can't say for certain if she is among our former mayors to royally screw downtown drivers and merchants by tinkering with downtown parking. That doesn't count her giant surprise to the city when she suddenly announced that a gigantic outdoor mall called The Gateway would be built on the near west side, pretty much draining downtown of what energy it had left after Main Street was mostly killed by Trax and beautification.
Thanks, Mayor Anderson. People either came away loving or hating Rocky Anderson. My own "rocky" relationship with him is well-documented, and years have come and gone, so I don't want to venture down that path. However, there is one thing I cannot forgive Mayor Anderson for: the reverse-angle parking miasma along 200 South. Rocky was progressive as all get-out, but I still don't have my head around why he advocated that cars parking on that street around 300 West and 400 West should back into their parking spaces. I've never seen such a method of public-street parking in any other city. Not once. And if it were such a good idea, how come it never extended past that small portion of the city?
At any rate, I've solved the problem in the only way I know how—I never, ever, park on 200 South. Which means I don't do much shopping or eating in that area. Maybe that was the point, to kill business.
Thanks, Mayor Becker. Not only did he install those crazy solar meters that seldom work, but thanks to them, he's made downtown street parking (for those silly enough to pay) a pricy and miserable experience. People stay home fearing a parking violation. I actually think anyone parking on downtown streets are the "violated."
Now comes the great mess Becker has made of 300 South. The one street that has truly made a comeback—loaded with local shops and merchants for blocks—is the victim of his dumb idea to create bike lanes against each curb and move parallel-parked cars to nearly mid-street, where car-exiting drivers can get clipped by vehicles passing only inches away. Or where, between Main and West Temple, cars parked at an angle at mid-street leave nice dents in the cars parking along the bike lanes. Where delivery trucks still park at the curb, because that's what delivery trucks do. Where, if you're pissed at the two stupid ways to park on 300 South, you're only one block away from the equally dumb parking on 200 South. Consistency? Nah.
If you're typing while riding your bike right now, let's talk later about the merits of cars versus bikes—I advocate for sane biking regulations btw, but willy-nilly? No. So, if you're a Jimmy John's bike deliverer, forget it—everyone knows you're above all traffic laws in the first place. This is about a mayor versus a city. Merchants and landowners are pissed. Persons coming downtown are pissed because there's no figuring out the Nazca Lines that somehow impart how to correctly park. Some parking meters have been eliminated, reducing fees, which means some bean counter is sweating about now. The new bike lanes even confuse bikers, too, who cannot feel safer when the autos around them are zigging, zagging and lurching like never before.
I guess that's why I've seen so many bikers take to the sidewalks of late. I fairly wonder how a friggin' snowplow is going to find its way through the mess come winter. Here's my bet: I bet that if it snows this winter (and it will) and if snowplows are required to clear 300 South (and they will), that Mayor Becker will eliminate street parking on 300 South altogether to make room for the bike riders, who will not be biking through the blizzard anyway. Because Mayor Velodrome does stuff like that.