Cost of parking forgiveness is unforgivably misguided

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editorial15onlineThe Chico City Council’s recent decision to forego thousands of dollars in parking meter fees is outrageous given the amount of debt the city currently faces.

As seen in our news section, the city has been struck with the Christmas spirit once again this year. They’ve decided to risk collecting about $17,000 in parking fees during four days this month. Instead of a parking ticket to first-time offenders, the city will issue “holiday postcard warnings” to drivers who don’t mind their meters.

Do not pass go. Do not collect $200, or anything else for that matter.

After years of making wrongheaded fiscal decisions, our city is up to its eyeballs in red ink. We’ve lost 71 city employees over the past three years. A commonly used playground was threatened with closure, and our police force has been cut to the bone.

Does it seem to you like our city’s in the position to make frivolous charitable gestures? We don’t think so either.

It’s this kind of gross financial negligence that got us into hot water in the first place.

We know the parking meter forgiveness is an attempt to promote business and ultimately bolster sales tax revenue. The city believes free parking will entice people to drive downtown and spend their money at local businesses.

But there’s an obvious problem with this backwards logic. If somebody really wants to go shopping downtown, they won’t object to paying a few measly cents to cover their parking. And if they think they can get a cheaper deal on their gifts online, a couple dimes won’t sway their decision.

Either way, the parking meter forgiveness isn’t going to do anything for local businesses, except further jeopardize the finances of the city that they all count on to regulate downtown.

The city’s latest foray into fiscal incompetence doesn’t make sense. At best, it’s a costly public relations stunt that could take a sizable chunk out of our community coffers.

Our council has to realize they aren’t playing with Monopoly money anymore, and there’s no such thing as free parking.


Illustration by Liz Coffee.

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