I recently have been carpooling with my fiance to work, she works in the Modis building and has a spot in a parking garage. This is convenient if I need to drive somewhere and she lets me borrow the car. Granted it is six blocks away but the walk is nice and is easier than running up and down and moving around every hour.
So being there I'm thinking even with the garage space this is a little stressful, and how I feel sorry for the other eight artist renting with me who don't have the pleasure of a free garage space. Then last Monday comes along...I have to say I have been driving for over fifteen years and I know how to read all traffic signs and I've been an American all my life. We have a sign near our front door that reads that it is a freight loading zone with 1 hour parking only. I'm thinking this means if I need to move something into my space it is okay to park there. I move most of my stuff in at night so I have never really used this parking space except one day where I ran back in forth up the elevator hurrying to not use the space for longer than 1 hour. So Monday I had a couple paintings I was bringing up for Art Walk. I parked in the freight loading zone to bring up my paintings and supplies, which took a few trips, and when I came down fifteen minutes later, I noticed that I had been ticketed. First thing I do is look for the parking enforcer, I'm so upset. I want to tell him he gave me a ticket by mistake. I look for him for an hour but I couldn't find him it. So I went home to do some research on coj.net, and the website states:
Q. Who can use Freight Loading Zones?
A. Designated Freight Loading Zones (FLZ) are for the expeditious loading and unloading of freight. Commercial vehicles properly displaying company logos in the standardized format or individuals purchasing a FLZ permit from the Public Parking division may utilize a space for the one-hour limit as posted. Certain circumstances may arise that require someone without proper signage or documentation to park in a loading zone. If this occurs, the time must be brief as in a "dropping off or picking up" situation.
A brief dropping off or picking up situation. I think I fit in that category. So I called the number on the bottom of the citation to talk to someone about the issue. The second I tell him my reason for calling he gets standoffish. I have this feeling he gets called a lot. He tells me he can't do anything and if I want to dispute it I can go to court. I get pissed and tell him that would take so much time it's easier to just pay the $25 ticket. I tell him that the telephone call was pointless and I don't even know why he has a job to answer a phone to explain to me what's already on the ticket.
I made these because I was so upset I couldn't work. Image is not against Downtown Vision, just referencing Downtown's new recognizable icon.
I know Jacksonville makes money off these citations. I know there is a such thing as parking illegally. Most people do not own a parking meter code violation book. I think where I parked was misleading, even the website contradicts why I got this ticket.
I honestly feel like I was doing something good for the city. The reason I'm in that space is to help get people downtown. I got a ticket moving artwork in so I can participate in Art Walk and get people downtown. I feel like the city has a system built so they can reach in my pocket to take out some money and make me jump through hoops to get it back. The citation has since created a different outlook on downtown for me. I feel like I got mugged by the people I'm trying to help. I honestly have seen a glimpse into why downtown is the way it is and seen how it is impossible for a small business owner or even someone wanting to shop to not feel the pressure of the parking situation. I couldn't imagine living in downtown with the expensive rent and the added expense of a parking garage. Then having family and friends over and having to deal with the possibility of them getting ticketed. Because eventually they will get ticketed, guaranteed.
I decided that I was going to just pay the citation, not because I think I'm guilty, I just feel disgusted I'm even in this situation. I want to get it over and I don't want to go to court. The city has it set up to where if you want to dispute it you have go down to their office, you can't call or set a court date online. So you have to go down there, then set a court date for another day. For most people thats 2 days away from work.
I am also torn on what it is I'm working on by being in downtown. I don't like the idea of encouraging someone in something that will eventually lead to disappointment. Would you want to own a business if you had to move your car every hour or pay a monthly payment in a garage for you and your employees. Would you want to live in a place your friends and family had to pay a fee to visit you. A place where you couldn't watch a movie without them having to move their vehicle around the block half way through it. Imagine a mother not having money for a parking garage space and having to move all day with a baby. It almost seems like a way to keep people with little income out of Downtown.
posted by tom p.