Truckee parking fines are excessive
I think the amount of parking fines in downtown Truckee are excessive. To charge $25 for a first violation is just too much. Last year, I traveled to Billings, Mont., and, unbeknownst to me, I parked my rental car in a time-limited parking space in the economically struggling historic downtown district. Did I return to find a parking ticket? No. Instead, I found a courtesy notice thanking me for visiting their town and advising me that I was in a paid parking space and should be sure to pay next time to avoid a fine/ticket. I appreciated the warning and it has served a good purpose. I know that the town of Billings wasnt trying to gouge me as a tourist, truly wants my business back, and Ill happily return the very next chance I get.However, I just cant say the same for Truckee.After the parking discount program was instituted, I bought a Town of Truckee card, obviously with every intention of regularly remembering to use it whenever I park downtown.Recently, however, I forgot to use it when I went to the new toy store to buy an overpriced gift at a quarter of five on a Saturday. I was very upset to find a $25 ticket when I returned to my car, which, by the way, was the only car parked in front of this or several other stores on West River Street.According to the information on the back of the parking citation, the town keeps track of violators for the purpose of increasing the amount of the fine for successive violations. I think they have it backwards, to the detriment of our downtown. I think that when someone (like me) has never had a parking violation before, they should issue a courtesy reminder notice instead of a $25 ticket. I think that the first violation each year should be a courtesy notice, the second violation could be $10 and the third violation could be $25. I think that charging people $25 right off the bat and going up from there gives Truckee a bad name. I think it conveys the impression that, in addition to the fact that most of the merchants charge premium resort-town prices for everything else around here, the Town of Truckee is also out to make money off of its parking program. This impression was recently reinforced when I saw that there is now a separate town vehicle specifically for the parking officers. A bit extravagant, I think, particularly when the total area of paid parking downtown encompasses what, five blocks?I have lived here for 10 years and I have always felt an obligation to shop locally as much as I can in order to support our local businesses, particularly our struggling downtown. However, because of this parking ticket, I am now reconsidering that obligation, particularly since I dont have to pay for parking at any of the Reno shopping malls. Think about how it must affect the tourists who may not yet have developed the affection that I have for this town. After receiving their $25 slap-in-the-face for a first parking violation, they may not want to come back at all.Cindy Smith is a Truckee resident.