Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick has already proposed a sales-tax holiday for the Bay State’s financially strapped citizens. How about a parking-meter holiday, too?
Imagine driving down Massachusetts Avenue in Cambridge at lunchtime, seeing a tantalizing pizza place and a parking spot right outside it, and -- oops! -- having no change for the meter. Not only are you out of a lunch option, but the pizza place owner has missed out on a client, and the state is out of some tax revenue.
The big cities of the Bay State, places like Cambridge, Boston and Somerville, create a culture of unfriendliness with their legions of parking meters, some of which allow parking for a maximum time of as low as 15 minutes. Many meters allow only quarters, and oftentimes one quarter is only good for 15 minutes. Motorists who park in metered spots must constantly check their watches, interrupting their lunch to run back and put more change in the meters. And even then, they might get fined for an overtime violation.
I call on Gov. Patrick to push for a parking-meter holiday -- a stretch when motorists can park in metered spots at no charge -- to provide a hassle-free environment for drivers, and potentially more revenue for business owners. It would represent a small but significant easing of stress on drivers who already have to pay for gas and maintenance.
Granted, there might be a few wrinkles to iron out. Some drivers might abuse the privilege, parking in metered spots all day during the holiday and depriving peers of the opportunity to use the space. Perhaps Patrick could adopt a set of rules that stipulate that during the holiday, all metered spots would change to a minimum of one hour’s free parking (if the meter normally runs for one hour or less) with a maximum of two hours’ free parking (if the meter normally exceeds one hour), with normal ticketing policies in place for drivers who park beyond the allotted time.
As constituted, parking meters represent an additional tax on motorists that, while small in monetary value, is still unpleasant … kind of like the impositions that King George III, his Parliament and Govs. Bernard and Hutchinson of the Massachusetts Bay Colony wanted the colonists to pay over stamps and tea. Our present-day governor, Patrick, should not ignore the promising possibility of a parking-meter holiday as he battles for reelection.