Hippo Manchester
December 1, 2005


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Publisher's Note: The perils of parking
by Jody Reese

With Christmas closing fast and snow on the ground it can only mean one thing to Manchester renters: parking pains.

Manchester city government enforces ó even when they do not plow ó its odd-even parking scheme from Nov. 15 to May 15. Itís absolute stupidity.

The system is easy enough to follow. Cars must be parked on the even side of the street (based on building numbers) on the even number days as of 1 a.m.

The issue is that there are not enough single sides to streets in most rental areas, such as the West Side, Center City or downtown historic district. On days when there is no snow and consequently no plows the ordinance is still enforced. Tickets start at $15.

Supporters of the ordinance have claimed that by keeping vehicles on only one side of the street during the winter months fire and ambulance trucks can get through narrow streets. Though this could be a problem on a few West Side streets, itís not a real issue in most of the city. The streets are wide enough to accommodate a fire truck with cars parked on both sides of the street with snowbanks. But the narrow street argument seems disingenuous. Motorists park on both sides of the street during the day.

Iím guessing that the aldermen support this ordinance because it makes money. And the aldermen would rather fine renters than raise property taxes even a tenth of a percent.

But what the aldermen in their property tax haze forget is that unfair parking schemes detract from the cityís quality of life and make people less likely to stay here, buy homes and open businesses. To be blunt, itís bad for business.

Then, there are the dreaded snow emergencies. During those city government bans all street parking. It even closes many city-owned lots, making finding parking in some neighborhoods impossible. This is just bad parking management.

Up north in Montreal the city has a rolling snow emergency, block by block. Plows and some tow trucks drive down a street and sound a horn to move. Everyone gets five minutes to move or the vehicle is towed. But unlike in Manchester where itís towed to a lot run by the tow companies that takes no credit cards or checks, the towed vehicle is towed to a nearby street and ticketed. The ticket covers the cost of the tow and the city pays the tow drivers. The city gets its money when the ticket is paid. If it is not paid, the vehicle cannot be registered.

Itís finally time the aldermen got smart about winter parking and started working with residents, not against them.