Friday, August 29, 2014

Kurt Schrader among 37 House Democrats Voting with the GOP to Poison Your Water

More shameful nonsense from a former Oregonian who has gone native in DC,
Land of Lobbyists Lavishing Lucre on Lacklusters Like Him.

"Let's live on the planet as if we intend to stay."

Mark your Calendar for Sept. 23, Loucks Auditorium: "On Paper Wings"

On Paper Wings ~ documentary screening

Tuesday, September 23, 7:00 pm       
FREE: Sponsored by the Salem Public Library Foundation. 

On Paper Wings is the story of four Japanese women who worked on World War II balloon bombs, the civilians affected on the Oregon coast, and the project to fold a thousand paper cranes as an act of reconciliation between the women who made the balloon bomb paper and the loved ones of the family killed that day.

Ilana Sol is a filmmaker and archival researcher living in Portland, Oregon.  When her hobby of historical research led her to find out about the Japanese balloon bombs, she soon found herself spending hundreds of hours researching these bizarre weapons, and traveling thousands of miles to meet with those affected by them.
Japanese Women visit Bly
The group of Japanese women visit Bly, Oregon in 1996.
Ilana Sol

On Paper Wings ~ documentary screening

More on downtown parking: constructive feedback beats punitive fines

The problems with meter-paid parking adopted in isolation deserve a much longer look, which requires more time which is, alas, fleeting.

But we can say one thing for sure off the top:

Regardless of how parking overstays are identified and sanctions administered, the parking ticket is a terrible, destructive, counterproductive thing.

Parking tickets are uniquely terrible because they are negative random sanction applied only AFTER the undesired behavior and they have the net effect of giving the downtown visitor -- the people we spend lots of time and money to lure downtown -- a smelly turd with which to commemorate their visit.

Because they're a punitive sanction, they implicate due process rights, which means they're inflexible -- the person who overstays because their counselor made a real breakthrough and spent extra time with them gets the same parking ticket as the person who just ignored the whole limited time thing. The person who overstays because getting measured and fitted for a suit took longer than expected gets the same ticket as the kid who just got distracted by the other kids at the park.

Further, if there is a "victim" in people parking too long downtown, the victims are the downtown businesses who want customers, not the city. But who gets the fine today? The city.

Sanctions are most effective when the victim of the violation gets some restitution for the harm they felt, not when a distant third party gets paid. With parking tickets, a third party, the city, gets the restitution (the fine). People see this as creating a financial incentive to issue tickets. Which has a grain of truth, because parking enforcement is crazy expensive -- a costly force of municipal employees whose job it is to go around and drop smelly turds on the windshields of the people who might just be the very people we've been trying to bring downtown for ages.

In a two-party relationship -- a married couple, or customers and businesses -- there is a feedback loop in which each side "negotiates" with the other by adjusting their behavior to accommodate their differing preferences optimally.

We know that drivers want, among other things, infinite free parking, all located right in front of wherever they want to be that instant; businesses want to be located in a busy downtown that attracts customers, which necessarily means limited parking availability. They eventually reach equilibrium, with both parties trying to optimize the relationship so that each one gets as much as possible of what they want while the relationship continues.

But when you add an inflexible third party -- the city -- into the relationship, it works terribly in terms of allowing for flexibility and feedback. By its nature, legal/judicial punishment systems can't be very flexible -- unless people are generally treated the same, it makes people furious and litigious. People faced with this system opt out, because the third party won't make any accommodations to their various needs and preferences. In the context of downtown, opt out is exactly what we don't want folks to do.

So it's a pretty horrible system all around. It pisses off and frustrates the people you are trying to attract. Its administered by bureaucratic fiat that then requires a very expensive quasi-police system to enforce, backed up by an even more expensive legal/judicial bureaucracy. And the net effect harms the businesses who we're supposedly helping.

There's a lot more to say, but in the meantime, if parking time limits are going to be used in just downtown, at least try to limit the damage by addressing these issues. How?

Easy: adjust the "parking ticket" so that most parking tickets that most people get are mainly feedback (more instructive) and only a very, very mild sanction (less punitive). And you do that by, as much as possible, getting the city out of the picture in most cases.


Again, simple: make the downtown parking ticket a into a gentle reminder that produces more of what everyone wants: people doing business downtown. You do that by setting up a system where the first few parking tickets a person gets can either be paid (as now) OR be forgiven if the driver does what we want: spends money with downtown businesses.

Under this system, imagine you get a $15 parking ticket. instead of being furious or stressed (and for a lot of working folks, a $15 unplanned fine is a huge stressor), you see on the envelope a list of all the downtown businesses in the "Welcome Downtown" district and you notice that if you spend $100 with any of the businesses on that list in the next 7 days, you can staple the receipts to the ticket and turn it in at any of the businesses and it is forgiven.

It's still a sanction -- but it's a pretty mild one, and it can leave both the driver and downtown businesses better off directly. The driver gets a gentle reminder rather than a slap in the face, and businesses enjoy the prospect of customers looking to spend enough money on goods and services downtown to get the ticket forgiven.

There are other layers to address for repeat offenders, etc. but the general idea is so much better than what we do now (and what has helped empty other downtowns) that it would be really nice if the various downtown factions could unite around the idea of designing a less punitive, less bureaucratic, more positive system for regulating downtown parking.

"Let's live on the planet as if we intend to stay."