My Turn: Local government is running amok
I promised myself that I wouldn’t opine on this issue when it started. Yet the more I learn about it, the more infuriated I become. Paid parking in downtown Truckee isn’t the underlying issue with me. Rather, it’s representative of local government run amok. What is occurring at Truckee Town Hall is appalling. It occurs at other levels of government locally, and other local government agencies throughout the country. A small group of outspoken zealots use local government as an avenue to further their personal agendas. Basically, the vocal minority rules the roost. One of the primary reasons I moved here decades ago was to get away from layer upon layer of government. Seems like it followed me. I believe that less government is better; the more government meddles in the lives of people, the worse off we are.What prompted me to write this column was the bottom line, literally. I read in the newspaper recently that it takes $1,500 per diem to break even on the paid parking. No chance the taxpayer will be breaking even on this venture. Rather, we’ll be taking it in the shorts. The capital investment for this grand idea was in the neighborhood of $600,000. Is that taxpayer funds well spent?What occurred here was a small group of outspoken people who claimed to represent the whole lobbied the folks on town council for paid parking downtown. The town council neglected to conduct an effective cost/benefit analysis. Then this concept ran through the annals of Town Hall to get approved. The concept of paid parking is not bothersome to me. It is becoming of Union Square. But Commercial Row is no Union Square. What Town Council failed to adequately address was the objective. What was objective of paid parking? Who benefits from it? What was the cost relative to the benefit? I certainly would like to know the answers to these questions, and I believe that it is incumbent upon our duly elected officials at Town Hall to explain this to the public.Regardless of the spin put on this, it’s apparent that the merchants downtown are suffering a decrease in their revenues as a result of paid parking. Further, their decrease in top line revenue translates to a decrease in sales tax revenue which won’t go into the town’s coffers. I would venture to guess that the town council never contemplated those results. What irks me about the paid parking concept was that it was ill conceived. Further, the system is really a wreck. I have spoken with two people who received parking citations during the time period within which they were paying for their parking voucher at a machine, which was remote from their vehicle. Now that’s equity if I have ever seen it. Finally, there’s the principle of the matter. This is Truckee. It’s not Union Square. We have plenty of parking. It’s not a commodity that is in such short demand that it needs to be regulated through economic means. While that may not seem obvious to many, the people in this community are voting with their dollars. And from the looks of it, they’ve stopped voting downtown thanks to the brilliant concept of paid parking in Truckee. Michael Golden is a Truckee resident. “My Turn” is a guest column open to readers of the Sierra Sun. Send submissions of 500850 words to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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