February 15, 2006

Off the Meter

Downtown parking in San Francisco was as expensive as a nice lunch. While preparing my 2005 taxes I found $34 parking stubs for 3 hours of car hoteling. Now factor in into the cost of driving the car into the city -toll, gas, traffic and insurance. Then you had to drive back again. My life was filled with meetings and often I paid for more than one parking lot in a day.

Street parking at a meter was impossible until after 6pm and even then you had to hide on a side street until the meter police passed and then scramble into an empty spot 10 minutes before 6. There you sat as cars and buses honked at you to get out of their lane. But you hunkered down in your seat and took it. That spot was gold.

Here in Downtown Houston finding street parking with a meter any time on a weekday is effortless. There they sit, empty and waiting. But you still have to feed those beasts. $1.25 for an hour but no change machine and they don't take bills. Would you believe that this past Monday a meter officer actually told me to park in a broken meter spot? I had asked her for change and she said "spot #9 is broken if you want to park there." What? You are telling me to park in a broken meter instead of standing there and waiting to give me a ticket? When I returned to my car two hours later it sat ticketless. Amazing.