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Friday, February 17, 2012

Lakewood's Key to Parking Meter Cash? Stop Paying for Enforcement

Posted By on Fri, Feb 17, 2012 at 7:34 AM

Dont worry, theyre not checking the meters.
  • Don't worry, they're not checking the meters.

Those of you who live or shop or drink and then swerve home from Lakewood know well of the change that started taking shape with city parking meters a couple of years back. Disappearing were the “spin a free half-hour” meters of old, which allowed you to crank the handle and get a quick round of business done without dropping so much as a nickel in the slot.

By now, those meters have been completely phased out in favor of electronic models that require your dime from the moment you think about heading into town. The extinct amenity ostensibly served to deepen the city coffers, perhaps so that Birdtown might have a respectable playground or a few more firefighters might get the equipment they need.

But others also worried that the change inhibited casual shoppers, who might more likely drop in to one of Lakewood’s zillion or so quirky small businesses were it not for the tithe to Johnny Lawman.

One thing few might have predicted from all this is a drop in parking-meter citations. But that's exactly what has happened.

Lakewood's meter violations have declined in recent times, from a robust 4,434 in 2009, to 3,420 in 2011. According to another round of dandy reporting by Lakewood Patch, the city blames a decrease in full-time parking enforcers on the beat … and also Mother Nature and booze. Police Chief Tim Malley notes that crazy snow just don’t fall like it used to — which means no lucrative parking bans — and popular clubs don’t pack ’em in like they used to, which means fewer drunks who misplace their cars overnight. And that brand of valued customer, of course, was crucial to the meter-busting business.

But the bottom line for Lakewood is that the extra quarters are doing their job: Revenue from meters still rose the last two years, to $434,509 in 2010 and again to $458,184 in 2011. Which means the kids in Birdtown should be getting a playground after all.

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