It is a sad state of affairs when the most effective government agency in this city is the Parking Authority. 911 is a joke. The cops are trigger-happy at the most inappropriate times and MIA at the most crucial. DHS actually kills children and the Housing Authority can barely keep a roof over its head. And good luck getting anywhere with City Hall if you don’t have a council person on your payroll. But, overstay your meter welcome by just one hot minute and you are fucked for $25 courtesy of the men (and women) in baby blue. God forbid your bumper breaks the plane of a Tow Zone — faster than you can say ‘Dude, Where’s My Car?’ you are in a cab headed to the PPA’s South Philly auto dungeon where you will pay a $200+ ransom to get your ride back from its captors. (The good news is if you are handicapped there is plenty of parking on any street, day or night. It’s our way of saying: Thank You For Being Handicapped!) This cruel efficiency is the trademark of just one government agency in this city: The Philadelphia Parking Authority. And in this new and recurring feature, we will make it our business to question this authority. Because best we can tell there is an awfully lot of authority concentrated at the PPA and very few questions — and even fewer answers. At Phawker, we believe that the people should not be afraid of the Parking Authority, the Parking Authority should be afraid of the people.
Today’s topic: In response to the city’s resurgent night life, the PPA plans to extend metered parking hours well into the night, according to KYW:
Citing the booming nightlife of Center City, the Philadelphia Parking Authority is revamping its on-street parking rules downtown, and in many cases that means you must now feed the meter well past normal business hours. The Parking Authority is now revising its rules block by block in Center City, often extending the hours for which parking is regulated. So that means on some blocks where parking was unregulated after 6pm, you may now or soon have to feed the meter until 10pm.
Why? To help the taxpayers they work for restaurants and night clubs, of course. You see, restaurants and nightclubs wish their customers would spend more time running in and out to feed the meter, and it wouldn’t be such a bad thing if every now and then they came back in sweaty and red-faced, perhaps even shouting and waving a parking ticket — because, hey, it makes the creme brulee taste that much better. Also, restaurants and night clubs often complain that far too many customers show up with their pockets bulging with quarters and it not only looks unsightly and amateurish it also makes an annoying jingling sound when they are on the dance floor. And so apparently all the restaurant and night club owners got together and they all agreed: If only there was some way the Parking Authority could help. And fine civil servants that they are, the PPA said: All you have to do is ask.
Spokesperson Linda Miller says restaurants and businesses that are staying open later want these changes to encourage more turnover at the meters:
“Because they’re finding that as their hours are extending, and people are staying out longer, they (the businesses) want to have a way (for customers) to park. And if your regulations end at a certain time, that turnover is not taking place.”
Hmmm. Let’s see, in a startling reversal of a 20-year trend, people now actually want to come into the city at night — and the PPA’s first reaction is to RAISE the aggravation level of coming into the city at night. Thanks Parking Authority!
UPDATE: Turns we were wrong when we said that the restaurants and nightclubs got together and asked the Parking Authority to extend metered parking hours in the hopes of pissing off their regulars and sending newbies running screaming back to the suburbs never to return. Turns out the PPA just up and did it themselves, fully expecting, we’re guessing, that the restaurant and club owners would thank them later. Because, hey, anybody can extend a dry hand to a drowning child, or douse a man on fire, but a true Good Samaritan insists on helping even when you don’t think you need it. From the Inquirer:
But the decision [to extend metered parking hours] has raised concerns among some restaurant and business owners.
“I don’t think that’s going to spur more turnover. I think that’s just going to generate more parking tickets,” said Tom Peters, co-owner of Monk’s Cafe at 16th and Spruce Streets. “It’s going to deter people from coming downtown.”
Paul Levy, president of the Center City District, said the authority should have consulted with businesses to fully understand the impact.
“To the best of our knowledge, they didn’t do that,” he said.