Dear Robin: I Am Fighting with the Neighbors Over Parking
Monday, January 19, 2015
I live in Salem in a house with a tiny single car garage too small for my car. I park in my driveway and my daughter and her girlfriend who live with me park on the street in front of our house.
Recently my widowed neighbor's elderly friend who visits her often began haranguing the girls for parking on the street. Her complaint is that it is hard for her to back out of her friend's driveway. We then parked across the street in front of her house and of course she complained about that. The verbal judo is escalating and now accompanied by finger wagging.
I don’t really have a great relationship with this particular neighbor, she is rather well off and pays for lawn care and is very particular in how our lawns (those of us around her) should look. I am more of a naturalist, whilst I rake leaves and keep the grounds clean, I do not edge, trim and bark dust.
How do I relay to these women that on-street parking is legal, we have no other choice and these verbal spankings are not OK? I don't want to make matters more strained by unloading on her, but since things have gotten so much worse recently I really want to let them have it.
You have my deepest condolences. What a horrible situation you find yourself in: living in Salem!
Salem is the worst: you live amongst criminals who sit around on the taxpayers' dime doing nothing all day, and besides the Governor, his First Grifter Girlfriend and the Oregon Legislature, you have the prison to contend with!
If you have been reading me here or on my blog at www.askdescamp.com you know I am a firm and proficient wielder of snark. Were I standing in your shoes, I too would be tempted to unleash on Mrs. Kravitz and her Special Friend the following ditties:
1. Have you considered the possibility that if you can't back out of a driveway without major incident you may be too old, blind or stupid to drive?
2. If your attacks do not end, I will be forced to cease all my current gardening efforts, tear up my poorly-manicured lawn and plant marijuana in the front yard surrounded by garden gnomes and pink flamingos, and not in an ironic way.
3. No wonder your husband died before you. Was he henpecked to death? I bet you didn't let him park his Ford Probe in your garage very often, if you catch my drift.
However, in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day I am going to give you a kinder, gentler solution. Dr. King said:
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”
Since "driving out" is quite literally the problem here, I am especially tickled to use this quote!
Adopting the approach to problem-solving favored by these women will not drive out their antagonistic and negative behavior and is guaranteed to make things worse. Therefore, I herewith instruct you to perform the following actions in an effort to improve relations between you, your neighbor, and her OFSA (Only Friend Still Alive):
1. Invite them to your house for coffee and sweets. Old ladies love that sort of thing.
2. Tell them the current strife over the parking situation is troubling you, especially since you enjoy a good relationship with everyone else on the street and you would like to have a positive one with them as well. Ask them very directly to cease the verbal attacks on members of your household.
3. Point out calmly to your neighbor there is simply no reasonable alternative except parking in front of her home, an option about which she is not enthusiastic.
4. Show them the overhead photo you sent me that illustrates your dilemma including very limited parking on your side of the street due to a fire hydrant to the north and a stop sign (no parking within 150 feet) to the south.
5. At this point they will almost certainly chirp in unison that the girls should park in front of someone else's house. Don't miss this opportunity to explain the hypocrisy in that proposed solution.
6. Point out the glaringly obvious: the friend could either park in front of your neighbor's house or back into her driveway to avoid the terrible peril of using her rear-view mirror when heading home to her miserable husband.
7. Give your neighbor this link and tell her to ask her great-grandson to bring it up on his stolen iPad next time he's on parole and comes around to beg her for drug money: Here's Where to Snitch about Parking issues.
The City of Salem will take a look at what's going on and tell her she is wrong. Perhaps that will end the problem.
Try to kill these gals with two things they have a very tenuous relationship with: kindness and logic. Please be advised I mean that in the figurative sense and am not instructing you to murder your neighbor and her BFF.
If nothing changes and the verbal abuse continues, my advice is to do nothing because really, what can you do? I wouldn't bother the police with this sort of thing; they are too busy looking for Oregon State Prison escapees and transporting Cylvia Hayes' dog hither and yon.
Just laugh. Every time these biddies get their Depends(R) in a bunch, smile at them and wish them a happy day. Make notes when your neighbor's friend threatens an accident because that will help you if you ever have to file an insurance claim against her.
Come to think of it, she announced repeatedly she was in danger of an accident backing out of the driveway and yet she continues to park there. That may be the sort of thing you could report to the DMV if you were worried that this elderly driver may not capable of safe motoring any longer.
I'll just leave this right here...How to Tattle to the DMV.
Even if these women refuse to behave, it can't be long until they shuffle off this mortal coil and move into their new underground condos (no parking problems but the occasional water issues). Carrying around unreasonable anger and resentment creates stress which is hard on the body so you've got that going for you, which is nice.
Be patient, be kind, rise above the petty bullshit and one way or another, either through your utilization of my advice, intervention from the DMV or life's attrition process, your problem will be solved.
"Never succumb to the temptation of bitterness." -MLK
Related Slideshow: Ways To Fund Street Repairs Without A Street Fee
Portland Gas Tax
Currently, there is a $.03 Multnomah County gas tax. The tax revenue is split about 20 percent to Multnomah County and 80 percent to the city. Every $.01 increase in the tax would next about $1.36 million to the city, according to PBOT’s budget. Given that, the City of Portland has the power to levy its own gas tax.
The Politics: Hugely unpopular for not a lot of cash, but perhaps less unpopular than an income tax.
Seattle and San Francisco use “dynamic pricing” on their parking meters. That means that the price to park goes up depending on the time of day and the location of the meter. For instance, if you are parking right in front of the Schnitz at 7 p.m. on a Saturday night, it’s going to cost you more than a $1.60 an hour.
Portland’s current meters could be programed for dynamic pricing, according to experts, and with 9,000 meters in the city, that could add up.
The Politics: Despite some grumbling, the city doesn’t need anyone’s permission to raising parking meter fees. Parking revenue is completely unrestricted, meaning it can be spent anywhere and on anything.
With 692,201 registered vehicles in the county in 2013 a $20 vehicle license registration fee, with a 20/80 split to the county (like with the current gas tax), could generate $11 million for the city every two years.
The Politics: This would have to go through the Multnomah County Board. The county doesn’t really need cash for infrastructure at the moment, as it has a few big federal grants lined up to pay for upcoming bridge repairs. The challenge would be offering the commissioners a deal sweet enough for them to take the political hit.
More Parking Meters
A parking meter costs about $1 an hour to operate. So at $1.60 and hour, about $.60 is pure profit. More meters are already in the works for Northwest Portland. Meters in all major shopping districts from Southeast Hawthorne, Division and Belmont Streets to Northeast Alberta Street to North Mississippi and Williams Avenue could raise money for improvements in those areas.
The Politics: Neighbors and businesses would whinge endlessly. But many studies say that parking meters benefit businesses by keeping spaces turning over. Residents could be issued parking stickers to exempt them from charges.
Raise Smart Park Fees
The city controls 3,800 spaces in six downtown garages. Smart Park cost about $11 million a year to run, according to PBOT’s budget. All told parking charges from meters and Smart Park brings in $45 million a year but the system is not operated to maximize revenue. Dynamic pricing might be hard to implement at the garages but the city could raise the rates.
The Politics: Downtown business interests might complain that raising parking rates would stop people from shopping and visiting downtown. The public interest would have to decide if that’s a risk to take, given the alternatives are an income tax or tattered roads.
Shift SDCs from Parks
System Development Charges are fees that different city bureaus level against new construction projects in Portland. Parks, PBOT, the water and environmental services bureaus can all level SDCs at developers.
The rationale is, if new development puts a strain on city infrastructure, like roads and sewer lines, then it should pay extra to upgrade the systems. However, most SDCs get charged to developments in the city’s center, while the revenue goes to pay for projects all over Portland.
Over the last four years, Parks & Rec has averaged about $9 million a year in SDC revenue. The city could pull the bureau’s power to charge and let PBOT charge more.
The Politics: It would be a fight with parks supporters. Parks has said it needs $49 million a year just for new parks acquisitions. But it might be more logical to raise that money through bonds, or repurposing taxpayer-owned golf courses, especially ones in park-starved parts of town.
Photo: Berkeley Park in SE Portland, via Wikimedia Commons
Raise police and fire reitrement.
Police Chief Mike Reese announced his retirement this year at the ripe old age of 55. But he qualified for retirement much earlier, at age 50. Putting five years on the clock would certainly save the taxpayers some cash that could be used on roads or anything else.
The Politics: You’d have to face the union and that wouldn’t be pretty.
Photo: Former Portland Police Chief Mike Reese
Portland’s Police and Fire Retirement Fund was set up by voters in 1948 and has resulted in a huge hole the public must now dig itself out of. Despite voter-approved reforms in 2006 and 2012, the obligation is still a fiscal time bomb. As of June 30, 2012, unfunded liability in the fund was in the neighborhood of $2.9 billion.
The Politics: Public employee pension obligations are the stuff of municipal bankruptcy court. It’s a hard fight, but reforms were suggested by Portland’s City Auditor’s Office as recently as Jan. 2013.
Fix Tax Compression
In 1996, Measure 50 cut and capped property taxes across the state. It froze the assessed value of homes at their 1995 level and limited growth in value to three percent a year.
In Portland, the result is a system in which homes that have increased in value rapidly pay very little taxes and homes that haven’t increased in value much can pay sky-high taxes. The short hand for the squeeze in tax equity is “tax compression.”
The city loses about $24 million a year due to tax compression, according to the city auditor. If the city, county or state could figure out a way to fix the issue there could more money for everyone: They’ve had 20 years to think about it.
The Politics: There has been endless talk about tax reform in Oregon. The Governor put it as a major priority of his fourth term. All the old tax-revolt warriors have long since left the scene, but the political will to do much more than talk will be hard to find.
Stop Urban Renewal
About $.25 of every $1 that the city gets in property tax revenue goes to pay down debt on urban renewal projects. Mayor Charlie Hales has talked about sunsetting urban renewal districts.
On the immediate horizon, the Eastside Industrial URA has the power to issue new debt up until 2018. One step forward would be to stop that right now.
The Politics: Urban renewal is a cash cow for commissioners and their pet projects. No one really wants the system to change. But if it’s a choice between taking a hit on pet projects or a city tax revolt, commissioners might support clipping their own wings a bit.
Put PBOT Out to Bid
Private companies can pave roads and clean them too can’t they? What if they could do it for less money than the city? PBOT could put services like street repair and cleaning out to bid.
It might not save a lot of cash, but it might win trust with the voters by showing them that the city was trying to get the best price for the public’s money.
The Politics: “Privatize” is dirty word in liberal Portland. But then, "income tax" might prove to be even worse.
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