Letters to the EditorNews

Those Thieving Downtown Athens Parking Meters

Has this ever happened to you? You park downtown looking forward to a nice meal with friends, a night out listening to music or shopping. You put money in the meter, and one or more coins drop into the meter but add no time, even though you have not exceeded the maximum time allowed. Or you park downtown, walk to the pay-to-park station, insert your credit or debit card and wait, and wait, and wait, and wait, then give up in disgust, get back in your car and drive away?

This happened to me again recently. I returned to my car a few minutes before the meter would have run out, and I had a $10 ticket. I end up paying $11.75 or more to park instead of $1.75. Why bother feeding the meter when I can save almost 20 percent by parking and ignoring the meter altogether? 

I know several people that are so disgusted with parking meters and pay-to-park stations, they don’t bother to patronize downtown businesses. How does this support our downtown merchants? Well, it doesn’t, and it creates ill will about the entire downtown experience.

I rarely carry cash, preferring to pay with credit or debit cards. If I have cash, it is usually about $2 in quarters, so I can feed a thieving parking meter. When I feed the meter, more often than not, the second or third coins don’t register, sometimes the fourth or fifth coins don’t register, then I’m out of coins, don’t have sufficient time to enjoy my visit, don’t have extra coins to feed the meter, get a ticket and end up mad with the incompetence of Athens-Clarke County government.

I know, I could waste another 20 minutes going to an ATM, getting cash, asking a merchant for change, walking back to my car, feed the meter (lose another coin or two), get back to my meal, my friends, the show or shopping. This is inconvenient and certainly not the way I want to spend my time in Athens.

This situation has happened to me many times over the 30-plus years I’ve been here. How much money does Athens-Clarke County make on thieving parking meters and unjust parking tickets? How many people are disgusted with parking meters stealing their money, pay-to park-stations that won’t process cards and unjust parking tickets? If the county won’t maintain reliable, working parking meters or pay-to-park stations, aren’t they stealing money? Do I deserve a ticket when I return before the meter would have run out?

Come on, ACC, fix the meters and pay-to-park stations or get rid of them. Otherwise, you’re irritating the very folks that pay your bills.