To the editor:
Its always amazing how City Hall dupes motorists by raising its parking fees and how the gullible public falls for it believing the city has a right to earn a profit off its parking meters.
Recently, on July 29, 2010, two opinions from readers Hubbard (Citys parking policy encourages vehicle usage) and Hulfish (Was the parking meter rate increase a mistake?) talked about how the 75 percent increase in parking meter fees were revenue-raising. Well, they cant be and the citizen ought to do something about it instead of believing it to be so.
State law states that parking meter fees are traffic control devices and by that it is meant that cities and counties may regulate parking, not charge a tax for parking. It may not use these devices to raise revenue. Cities and counties can only charge what the cost of operation, i.e. installation and enforcement, bears. Otherwise, the city is engaging in illegal tax-gouging which is a violation of state law granting it no authority.
Any of these citizens can challenge this tax-raising event by the City of Alexandria by either defending a ticket issued on a meter right up to the appellate courts, because it was fined for the assessment of an illegal fee.
Or, go ahead and initiate a lawsuit on behalf of all motorists that the city has converted the parking meter user fee into a tax and have it enjoined and fees refunded by showing that the fees are unreasonable and not substantially related to the cost of servicing the meters. Just get their meter fee amounts raised from past years and this year with the 75 percent increase and match it against the cost to operate the meters if they are out of line by less than 2-to-1 you are going to create a bit of consternation among the City Councils profiteers.
You may even get the fees downsized to where they belong before tax mongers took over your streets. Why dont the citizens wake up instead of looking like a herd of sheep.