Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Use common sense in parking enforcement

Twelve years ago, I was helping at a bustling Ketchum furniture store where the owner had a delivery truck. As winter approached, he asked city authorities if he could park his truck in front of the store at night because his space (as well as the adjoining ones) had radiant heat piped beneath; thus, there was no need for the city to plow that area. Sadly, the city said no, and the owner, though he was already paying $16,000 a month rent, still had to go to great lengths to procure a less convenient overnight parking spot.

More recently, I met a friend who has a fine store in the same Ketchum complex, and due to the nature of her business, it's imperative that she keep her vehicle parked within eyeshot. This usually works out well for her; however, she needs to dash out every two hours to re-park her car. This daily unsettlement sometimes irks her, especially during months of "slack" when empty spots around her business are almost always abundant.

The worst of it is that this constant need for her to start up her car and then re-park around the corner spews pollution, as the first minutes of running an engine produce the most exhaust emissions. That goes against Ketchum's enlightened idling ordinance, and several of her business neighbors agree that in this vein, the perpetual strict enforcement of the two-hour zone is unreasonable.

So far, she and I have been impressed with the diplomatic approach that the Ketchum Police Department has used to educate motorists about our idling ordinance. And while it's already challenging enough to keep a good business running in this town, it would be refreshing to see our dedicated parking enforcement officers apply some of this same common sense to their general ordinances. That would go a long way toward illuminating the welcoming nature and fine character of our hardy town.

Jim Banholzer


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