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Shifting gears: Why Raleigh should put its citation officers in ‘park’

February 10, 2013

Published here on February 9, 2013

ParkLink has given out one too many parking tickets. Not to me, mind you. After three citations, I decided last semester to boycott Raleigh parking. Instead, I park at Cameron Village, grab a Starbucks coffee – so that I’m technically a Cameron customer – and walk 10 minutes to class.

Last week, Cassia Lewis, a junior in fashion and textile management and also a friend, returned to find her car blemished with one of those $20 demerits. This confused her because the meter showed Lewis still had plenty of time allocated to her spot. She had been parked in her spot for four hours, but she returned to dump more quarters in the meter at the two-hour mark.

 She called ParkLink for an explanation, and a representative told her rules prohibit parking in a metered spot for more than two hours, whether or not the meter is refilled.

This has always been a rule, but neither I nor anyone I’ve talked with knew about it. Until a few weeks ago, ParkLink never enforced it, and Lewis has parked on Hillsborough Street and refilled the meter for the past two and a half years. But now ParkLink has decided to crack down. That’s fine, but the parking office posted no notice and released no public service announcement, not even a tweet.

Raleigh’s parking rules are rapidly becoming absurd.

Did you know that students are not allowed to park in a metered spot for more than two hours on any day? ParkLink officers are ticketing by zones. So students can’t bypass the no-refills rule and move their cars to another open spot – even if 100 spots remain open along Hillsborough Street.

To see the generosity of ParkLink, look no further than Logan Sawyer, a senior in science education who was awarded two tickets in one day. Sawyer moved his car from Zone A to Zone B and back to Zone A in two-hour increments, attempting to follow the assigned time limits. He received a ticket for sitting too far away from the curb in Zone B, which he deserved.

But get this: After returning  to Zone A, he received a second ticket because the citation officer assumed he had been there all day. Even though he presented the Zone B ticket as proof otherwise, ParkLink refused to repeal either ticket.

Do you see why I park in Cameron Village?

Despite repeated calls and emails on my part, ParkLink did not comment on this issue. However, I know ParkLink has decided to enforce the rule partly to open parking for the restaurants.

The restaurants? Students provide the majority of revenue for these restaurants – using their feet, not their cars, to get to the doors. Plus, last time I checked, restaurants like Bruegger’s and Chipotle offer ample parking in the rear. Has anyone ever seen those lots full of cars?

I’m stooping to complaining about this issue because I have no other outlet. Forget Civil Disobedience-style protests. According to the News & Observer, Raleigh intercepts tax refunds to extract any unpaid parking citations.

I plead with Raleigh officials to either drop this ridiculous rule or more explicitly explain on the signs the rules governing two-hour parking. And for goodness sake, if ParkLink officials want to crack the whip, they should provide a grace period.

N.C. State’s warning-ticket system make no sense for people like Michael Patterson, who, according to the News & Observer, pays $600 a month in citations because he is too lazy to park in a deck downtown. However, for college students who do not have a long record of parking tickets – or a large bank account – I can think of no better option.

You see why I park in Cameron Village?

As my friend Lewis said, a student can only understand the parking system by getting a ticketed for every possible violation.

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