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Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Madison Parking Ordinance Promotes Wasteful Consumption

I see Craig Miller took a reasonable beef to the Madison City Commission Monday night. KJAM reports that Miller asked the city to revise its 24-hour parking ordinance. Evidently we have a rule that prohibits leaving your car in the same spot on city streets for more than 24 hours. After our last snowstorm weekend before last, Miller left his truck parked by the curb for more than a day, and the city left him a ticket. Evidently displeased, Miller suggested at Monday night's meeting that the city should revise that rule.

The city took no action. The city should. A 24-hour parking limit makes the incorrect assumption that everyone will drive every day. It may even encourage people to drive when they could just walk. If you're parking on the street and you have to move your car anyway, you'll be more inclined to drive those five or ten blocks to the post office than to just take a healthy walk.

Some folks may not have a better parking option, and they may not want to drive. When Erin and I lived in Vancouver, our landlord had no room for us to park, so I had to leave the trusty van on a side street. In eight months in the city, I drove the van once. The rest of the time, I took the bus, bike, or boots. Having to move the van every day would have been a waste of time and gasoline.

We've got bigger things to worry about than whether Craig's truck has been in the same spot for 24.1 hours. As KJAM points out, some other towns have two-day or five-day parking limits. Madison should by doing the same to support energy conservation and healthy living. If the car has a valid license, the city should let it sit.


  1. Normally, the PD won't ticket a vehicle unless a neighbor complains, but maybe the new young guns are on a revenue binge for parking tickets similar to their quest for record-breaking speeding violations. I'm still waiting for one of them to arrest City Commissioner, Richard Ericsson when his dog relieves himself daily on the post office and library lawn. What is that? A Poopdemeanor?

  2. You have got to be kidding me! What if you are home sick and CANT drive??? You get a ticket?

    The only reasoning I can see for this ordinance was that someone was using the street for a junk yard and the city had no other way to get the issue resolved. Times have changed, and so has the city.

  3. "Madison Parking Ordinance Promotes Preservation of the Commons"

    Parking space on city streets is a space that belongs to all. In many places, it is apportioned out by a modest fee (let's not get into econ 101, but I'm taking for granted you understand the minor barrier to entry, here). A person who parks their vehicle in it semi-permanently claims ownership that trumps the ability of other citizens to use the space.

    Cory -- your tale of vehicle-squatting in Canada doesn't show the misguided nature of the law -- it shows one of its purposes. Your landlord had no off-street parking, so you asserted eminent-domain over public space, other people's parking needs be d****d.

    There are additional concerns such as abandoned vehicles, street cleaning, and more.

    The state has a vested interest in allowing this commons to be used by many, instead of few. Don't want to drive? Great! But don't make other taxpayers subsidize the high cost of your free parking.

  4. Thanks for the support Cory. I think you should join the next commission meeting? Why, because you are a criminal in violation of:

    Sec. 11-266. License required.
    No person shall ride or use a bicycle upon any public street, highway or public ground without
    a license issued by the City.
    (Code 1953, 14.0175; Ord. No. 521, 2-27-61)


  5. You didn't say if the ticket had a fine or just a warning. I've been issued a warning when I left my car with a for sale sign and a neighbor apparently got irritated. I suspect in this case a neighbor of Craig's decided to be small.

  6. The ticket was $10.00, and I believe 5 cars on my block had tickets.
    It wasn’t a neighbor complaining, the plows went around my truck, but with it melting on Sunday, I saw no need to move it. The police could tell when they came at 4:52 AM that the truck hadn’t moved.


  7. The parking ordinance is in place for the purpose of keeping the residential streets clean curb to curb during the winter months. Now I understand where Craig is coming from however you have to ask yourself this question.

    If we happen to have a "snow event" on a Monday morning and all the DSU students have parked their cars on N. Lee, Harth, etc. the city can't clear the road. Soon the residents will be complaining because the streets are plugging up because the kids aren't moving their cars all week and the plows aren't doing their job.

    So the question is do we go back to the ticket ($50) and tow right away every time it snows over 2"? Or do we just abolish the parking ordinance all together?

    Sorry but you can't have it both ways.

  8. Don't worry, OtherMichael. We were decent parking neighbors. There wasn't a major shortage of space on the street we parked on and we spoke with the people who lived where we left the vehicle--they had no problem with it.

  9. Craig: thanks for the heads up! I thought I saw Rob and Heath giving me the eye... ;-)

    Snow is one thing. requiring people to move their cars every day is another.

    OtherMichael: wide street, usually only one or two other cars parked on it.

    Boy, with all this hassle, people still wonder why I live in the country?

  10. This is all about revenue and perhaps they are more sensitive around DSU for obvious reasons. As far as the police department, the inmates are running the asylum lately. Have we had a drug bust lately? How about a robbery bust or vandalism? Noise Ordinance? No, we're ticketing neighbors, dishing out ten dollar fines. Didn't hear any snow alert after that snow, so how do they prove the truck was there over 24 hours without moving. Tires must have been marked or something. Lembcke is your police commish.

  11. I wonder how the law enforcement would fit into this picture. After I heard about Craig getting his ticket I drove around and found Scott Knisley's patrol vehicle parked on the street. There days were he doesn't work much at all. Why can't he park it in his driveway like other people. Nothing happens to him. Must be that favoritism with some certain cops.

    Other cops have them parked in the driveway or atleast off the street so the 24 hour rule doesn't apply to them. If the city is going to do that to Craig, well then do it to everybody then. Don't pick and chose to whom you give tickets to.

  12. Anonymous 6:24.
    The city used to use an odd-even snow removal system. If the date was an odd number then maybe the streets were going to be cleaned. And opposite for avenues. This made sense and a person knew when they had to have their car moved.
    Madison is not a big city. We're a small town and we ought to be able to park a vehicle at least for a couple of days on the street without getting a ticket.
    I heard our mayor laughing about this in the post office saying people shouldn't think of the street as a parking lot.

  13. In re: Anon 10:10 - the Madison PD and the LCSO have been extremely busy lately. Unfortunately (or fortunately - depending on who you are and how you look at it) the local newspaper and radio very, very rarely report on any of the court happenings. Make a trip to court and you'll see there is a lot of crime being crushed out there.

    Sure there are some new faces within the MPD but why get angry at them for doing their job?

  14. Anon 7:40,

    One thing is for sure, there should never be a crime committed at Classic Corner 'cause our "extremely busy" police and sheriff deputies have that place on lock down most nights. Maybe you were being sarcastic when you said the PD and LCSD are "extremely busy".

    If we read the court news in the local paper, shouldn't that give us a picture of what's happening in terms of enforcement and arrests? I see the same old bad check charges, DUI's and a massive number of speeding tickets with seat belt secondary violations.

    Maybe our city speed limits need to be addressed by a committee since no other city in the state has 20 mph limits on main arteries. 25 mph or 30 mph is more realistic to driving habits and safety.

  15. Heck no Anon, I live on a 20 mph and people go 35. Raise it and they will go that much faster. Can't stand it when people race down Egan Avenue. In fact, I wish Egan still had the wide boulevard it once did. Kids played football out there. We need some charm in this town. Right now we are going down hill. When I go to Brookings I come back feeling like the poor cousin.

  16. " Anon 7:40,

    One thing is for sure, there should never be a crime committed at Classic Corner 'cause our "extremely busy" police and sheriff deputies have that place on lock down most nights. Maybe you were being sarcastic when you said the PD and LCSD are "extremely busy".

    4/16/2009 9:53 AM"

    So you never take breaks at your job, and if some one saw you on break they could assume you do not do anything when you are at work? I am just basing this on your comment.

  17. Anon 7:40 is probably on welfare and has no concept what a job is.

  18. "In response to Anon 7:40"

    Yes, Law Enforcement does take breaks, and they also respond to welfare checks.

    All in all I know they are doing a fine job, and am proud to have them protecting us.

    Now in response to the topic in general. Most of these parking tickets are written out during the winter months after snow fall. And in other times its because of neighbors complaining. If your home sick or not, all you have to do is pull your vehicle 10 feet forward or back to a new clean paved spot, or even on the other side of the road. Must not be that hard if an 18 year old can figure it out. I know for sure the college learns quick on how to adjust for snow fall. There are some kids that got the "HUGE" $10 ticket twice and their car towed and they didn't complain. They broke the law and faced the consequences.

    Also Anon 7:40, it takes a lot of Balls to post that anonymously....NOT

  19. Cops don't make laws, they enforce them. Don't like it, get the law changed.

    Anon 10:10 PM stated "Didn't hear any snow alert after that snow, so how do they prove the truck was there over 24 hours without moving"

    Think about that! Lets see, quits snowing at 8 pm Monday, 8 pm Tuesday there are no tracks in the snow from the parked vehicle. Guess what, the car has not moved in 24 hours! Looks like you learned something today.

  20. Boy, mention a cop on a donut break and out comes the cops, the cops kids and everyone says their doing the good job. Thats good to know.

  21. Do you really think that EVERY time a deputy or police officer is called out gets listed in the blog in the Daily Leader? Every deer hit, 911 hang-up, assult, domestic, barking dog complaint, traffic accident, speeding ticket, parking ticket, and citizen complaint... not likely.

  22. Prev. Anon makes a great point: cops are out answering calls all day, all night. And time they answer a call, they face a possible life-or-death situation. Any of you complainers care to take that job?

    The sons and daughters of our policemen should be proud of their parents. So should the rest of us whom those officers serve and protect.

  23. For those of you who think that our law enforcement officials do nothing but sit on their duffs and drink coffee, I have two words for you.

    Chad Mechels

    Now... if you're not ashamed of yourselves by now, then there's no hope for you.

  24. This blog is about the 24-hour parking limit, so let's stick to that discussion instead of getting distracted.

    Madison also has a two-hour downtown parking limit, but most businessmen and employees violate that all day long. Are the officers treating residential with the same fairness as business owners.

    "Cops don't make laws, they enforce them" is mentioned in an earlier post. They don't enforce them uniformly or fairly in Madison. Let's see some downtown tickets and open up some parking spaces.

  25. The tickets in question were issued after a snow fall. Had it not snowed, Mr. Miller could of left his vehicle parked over the weekend and no one probably would have known. It would be hard to enforce the downtown 2 hour area unless the police take complaints. I would say, if it snows, be extra careful.

  26. So here's something to think about..

    If the PD enforced the downtown 2 hour parking limit, then wouldn't increase DUI's?? Look how many bars are downtown.

    This whole parking thing is nuts.

  27. All of this whining because one guy got a ticket? Way to go folks, as if there aren't more pressing matters on the table to bitch and moan about. It's sad that you are so willing to tear into the entire Police Department because one guy can't take 2 minutes out of his day to move his vehicle.

    Laws are in place for reasons, apparently you folks don't realize that. If you don't like the Law, take it to the city counsel meeting and have it changed. If you have no intentions of taking a logical approach to the situation then why bother bringing it up?

    You state that this law encourages wasteful consumption? If he has no plans to use his vehicle he can put it in storage or sell it. The city streets are not your personal storage. He could park it on his lawn, buy a bike, and not have to worry about it in the future.

    Also, to Anon that had the audacity to say:

    "This is all about revenue and perhaps they are more sensitive around DSU for obvious reasons. As far as the police department, the inmates are running the asylum lately. Have we had a drug bust lately? How about a robbery bust or vandalism? Noise Ordinance? No, we're ticketing neighbors, dishing out ten dollar fines."

    Open your eyes and take your head out of the ground. If you get bored of living under a rock why don't you go sit in on some court sessions sometime. These men & women of Law Enforcement have been working their ass off making sure you can sit safely in your home. They can't catch all the vandalisms or dope dealers, but damn they are gettin close.

  28. ANON 7:45--lighten up already. It is not about the ticket, or the dollar amount. It is about how long a vehicle can be parked in the same spot. 24 hours. A real short period of time. I know Craig has 2 minutes in which to move his truck, and I am sure he has done so more than you can fathom. 24 hours. Shorter than it might take someone to get over a serious bout of the flu. 24 hours. Shorter than a weekend camping trip, or possibly a visit to grandma in Rapid City. 24 hours, not very long, but very unreasonable.
    Going to the city commission does very little. Asking the chief for his interpretation of the law leaves a little to wonder about since his officers seem to have their own interpretation. 24 hours is not long enough, period.


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