I’ve lived in smaller towns and big cities. I have received maybe 2 parking tickets in my lifetime, up until I moved to Corning. Now I estimate that I receive at least one ticket every 2 to 4 months. I’m not alone in my ticketing woes; I get more emails asking me to address Corning’s parking issues than any other topic. The system seems rigged against us.
Metered Parking Lots
There are parking lots throughout the city of Corning that have a centralized meter. The theory is that you go to the machine, punch in your spot number, and pay for the time you plan on using. So what’s the problem?
- The meters don’t accept dollar bills or credit/debit cards. It’s 2014; who has a bunch of change and isn’t on their way to CoinStar? Oh…You have change? Congrats! Unfortunately that might not work either…
- The meters are constantly broken. When the machine is out of order, you must call to report it, or you are guaranteed a ticket. That being said… if you do call to report it, you are still guaranteed a ticket, but with a better chance at fighting it. However, there’s no phone number posted. Since I’m a nice guy: 607-962-0340 – then hit 3. Here’s a run down:
- You call. They ask you for the lot location and your spot number (shouldn’t every spot be free if the meter is broken?)
- You will likely get a ticket on your car anyway
- Go to the finance office to contest the ticket
- They look in their records to see if you called to report the broken machine. But even that isn’t enough…
- They’ll tell you what time the meter was fixed, and that you should have paid at that point
- Your response should be something like: “I have a full time job, and it doesn’t involve checking the status of your damn parking meters”
- At that point, they will (hopefully) “rip up” your ticket
Free Parking Lot
I’ve parked in the free lot next to McDonald’s for over a year. What’s the problem?
- It’s falling apart
- It’s often full before 9AM, leaving few other options
- It’s not conveniently near anything. I know people who park here and walk to the other side of Market St, because it’s their only viable option
- The sole handicap spot’s paint has completely faded. Actually, I’m not even sure if it is a handicap spot anymore – plows pile snow there
- Handicap parking, free and outside of the time-limited zone parking, is difficult to find in Corning… perhaps non-existent
- Have a night on the town and decide to be smart by not driving home? This lot tows if you leave your car overnight (same goes for Market St)
If you’re not a local, you might not be familiar with this concept. Even-odd parking means that every night, you have to park on a different side of the street. In the winter, this makes it easier for the snow plows to do a thorough job. So what’s the problem?
- There are 3 other seasons in the year…
- In other seasons an argument could be made for street sweepers. But seriously, how dirty are our streets?
- I’ve lived in areas with more snow and skinnier streets; I somehow survived
- If there is a winter storm it may not even be feasible to move your car to the other side of the street
- This makes vehicle ownership difficult for elderly or disabled people that don’t have off-street parking
- Going out of town is challenging if you don’t have options for off-street parking while you are away
- The regulation is enforced city-wide but only posted in a few locations (see below)
- The disadvantages greatly outweigh the advantages – It’s just terrible and it should be gone tomorrow
Instead of posting easier to understand signs on every street where it is enforced, this sign is posted along higher traffic / higher speed roads coming into the city. It is then enforced city-wide. Has ANYONE ON THE FACE OF THE PLANET driven by this sign at 30+mph and understood it? Even if it were possible to actually stop and read it, would anyone unfamiliar with the area understand or remember it?
I’m assuming the city doesn’t want to clutter streets with signs explaining all of the parking rules. Or perhaps they hope people don’t know, think about, or understand them. Certainly, they make bank on people who can’t afford to take off from work to fight a $10 ticket (the Finance Office is open Monday-Friday from 8:30-4:00).
For the most part, I don’t mind Zone Parking (Market St and Bridge St) . Its purpose is to make spots available to visitors by keeping local workers from taking them all up. It does that well. The problem is with the other parking systems not working, leaving many of us trying our luck at zone parking. I do think that the 2 hour limit is too short, and the ticket givers are over ambitious. …and maybe cut someone a break if they have an out of town plate; they are spending money.
The issue with Zone Parking is that the time limit starts from the moment you first park, and doesn’t stop just because you leave. For instance, I parked in front of Empire Vision to make an appointment and returned later that day to get my eyes checked. I was parked on Market Street for a total of maybe 45 minutes. But to the ticket dude, I might as well have been there all day.
Centerway Garage is Great!
If you’re parking downtown, the Centerway Garage is the best way to go. It’s free on weekends and every day after 5pm. Daily rates are $5 per day or $37 / month. Centerway Garage is run by the Gaffer District, not by the city; it’s well-managed / maintained, the meter is rarely broken, and during free hours, the gate is left open so people don’t accidentally pay. I wish there were more garages like this. Yes, you can get a permit for one of the metered city lots, but it costs $150 per
month quarter, only works in the one lot you buy it for, and comes with the convenience of having to shovel off your car if it snows.
Let’s fix some things…
Let’s face it, the city is more often punishing locals who don’t have as much money: 1) downtown workers who can’t afford paid parking, and 2) residents who don’t have homes with off-street parking. The other targets are the tourists who come here to spend money. How about this: Instead of frustrating everyone with too many fines, why not not fix / change some of the systems to ones that are straightforward and charge people fairly. If I were in charge, I’d start with this list:
- Replace the metered lot’s pay machines with ones that work and accept more forms of payment
- Add additional free parking for downtown workers
- Better maintain the free parking lot(s)
- Increase zone parking to 3 hours (if you want to spend money in my town for an additional hour, go right ahead)
- Less aggressive ticketing on Market St
- Add another parking garage like the Centerway Garage
- End even-odd parking
What do you think? Do you think we need to change, or should we leave things the way they are?
UPDATE: Within a few minutes of posting this, people are contacting me asking what we can do. If you are interested in the possibility of a meet-up, shoot me an email: firstname.lastname@example.org