Your View: Alexandria needs cap-and-trade parking

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Your View: Alexandria needs cap-and-trade parking
(File photo)
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By Jimm Roberts, Alexandria (File photo)

To the editor:
City Councilor Justin Wilson’s quest for obscure regulations found another one to redress. Like the hapless Confederate soldier statue that inspired a spirited dialogue to re-write history, this find — a regulation restricting to three days the time a car can remain on a street in the same spot — also hit a nerve.

To pinch it, he observes that the three-day restriction becomes a violation primarily when a neighbor complains, implying there’s something unsavory about the neighbor, the complaint, or both. I don’t know when this regulation was enacted or why, but its purposefulness has arrived. It is among the first consequences of a parallel, but far more impactful quest: the one for evermore tax dollars.

Our city council, controlled by Democratic Party members for a generation, has deliberately opted for more density and debt to produce never-enough revenue. And it has succeeded. But with more residents, there come more cars.

Lots of households have lots of cars, often one per adult. Add to this the homes that have no driveway or garage, then the problem becomes apparent. But now what? Where should we put all these vehicles when driveways are inadequate and garages are unavailable? The street.

And why not? It’s public property maintained by taxes paid by the very residents whose cars are congesting them. But just as the number of people who can occupy a public building is restricted, it’s time to manage vehicular density. It wouldn’t be hard either.

For example, restricting the number of residential parking stickers to one per household is the most reasonable and understandable limit. It will be acceptable too, but only if the stickers are transferrable. This will allow those that have them because they are taxpaying, home-owning residents, but don’t own cars, to sell them to those residents who need extra parking stickers.

The result? The city garners respect for capping the number of cars that can be permanently crammed into Alexandria while simultaneously giving an incentive to use anything but a car for transportation. Plus, it allows taxpayers who pay for roads, but who don’t own a car, an opportunity to recoup some of their taxes from those needing an extra residential parking pass.

But what about those households that amass several residential parking passes? If they park their cars on the street in the same place for more than three days, then they run the risk of generating a complaint their car has been abandoned. And who will know if abandonment has really happened? Why, the neighbors, of course.

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