Are we on the right road with paid parking? | SierraSun.com
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Are we on the right road with paid parking?

Bob Sweiger

If Tahoe City ever imposes parking fees downtown like Truckee has done, I may have to move to Alaska. All members of the human race should have the right to park in their own town for free, even if it’s only to sit on a bench and watch the race go by.

I oppose paid parking because, simply put, it does not promote a natural sense of community, especially in a small town. It does quite the opposite. Alaska is more natural.

I have heard little in defense of the reasons behind the decision to make people pay to park in downtown Truckee. Aren’t taxes and other revenue from massive new development enough to justify the elimination of paid parking?

What I do hear are constant complaints from locals and tourists alike about the problems they have encountered with paid parking, and the cynicism it evokes toward our public policy makers. There is substantial proof of this in letters to the editor almost every week.

If our government projects and civic policies are inspired by finances alone, then that will become the criteria for our sense of community, the legacy we leave our children. That is not the kind of community they deserve or want. They’ll move to Alaska too.

Paid parking is only a minor example of the tendency for economics to override all else in determining the direction our society is going.

Economics is only a fraction of what builds a community. Obviously, finances and budgets are important but they are not, and should never be, the most important issues and values upon which human beings build a future. For too many of us, money is the only measure of a person. It is the new morality. If you struggle with money there must be something wrong with you.

Economic injustice is encouraged by the myth of the American Dream, which is a half-truth at best. Sure, some people work hard so they can have everything they want. Some people work hard all their lives only to have all they worked for, all they were promised, like a pension, taken away from them. That is un-American, yet it is happening all over America.

All one has to do is look around to see the whole truth. There have always been, and always will be, poor people and people with less ability and aptitude than others. To blame them all for not working hard enough to “get everything” and to ostracize them is a harmful by-product of one of the lowest forms of human consciousness.

I have nothing personal against people who are ambitious, hard-working and wealthy, even ultra-wealthy. They are free to go for it. I draw the line when they step on people to get there and intimidate others for trying. That is primitive behavior.

I believe we are too often blind to the role we, as individuals and groups, unwittingly and intentionally play in creating social and economic injustice. We need to open our eyes. It is time to re-evaluate and change how and why we make decisions.

We should do everything, wherever and whenever we can, to foster a natural sense of community and base our decisions, actions and goals on values other than the dollar. That includes being able to park in our own town, for free.

Paid parking, or free parking, will not make or break the community of Truckee. But we ignore a more holistic approach to community life at our own peril. I believe that starts with the little things in life, the natural things, like going downtown.

If you think I am missing the point, or overstating the case for free parking, you will be out of place in Alaska. They take their freedom very seriously up there. We should do the same. Let’s get back to nature.


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