Crystal City Staff’s Agenda: No Parking Ban Repeal and Franchise Fees

May 13, 2015 at 8:38 pm 1 comment


By Andrew Richter

I’ve long maintained that city staffs have way too much influence over city councils. In many cities, the council seems to answer to the staff rather than the other way around. It’s reached a new level here in Crystal with the upcoming work session on May 14. The first item that shows tremendous city staff bias. The Council is considering removing the overnight parking ban in Crystal but city staff is trying hard to get in the way and protect the status quo. Here is what city staff prepared for the work session;

SUBJECT: On street parking restrictions (not including snow emergencies)

Summary 

Currently on-street parking is restricted on Crystal streets from 2am to 5am all year. The City Council has expressed the desire to discuss this restriction with staff.

They should discuss it among themselves, why does city staff get a vote?

The restriction of on-street parking impacts many different people in different ways. While some may concern certain items as pros or cons, that categorization is generally very subjective depending on the individual.

Notice what was said; pros or cons! Then city staff lists a bunch reasons to keep the parking ban clearly in an effort for influence the council to keep things the way they are! Here they are;

Some residents feel that on street parking detracts from the image of the neighborhood.

And who is that exactly?

No on street parking could reduce the ease with which car prowlers could check out vehicles and break in.

Ha! So we shouldn’t park on the street for our own protection!

A vehicle parked on the street in violation of the ordinance could be checked by police. Criminals that park vehicles on the street during their criminal actions could be discovered or identified because of the vehicle on the street.

Oh yeah the police can peak in the window! They can’t do that otherwise! Those damn private property rights!

Vehicles parked on the street provide places to hide for individuals up to no good.

Huh?

For impaired drivers, vehicles parked on the street are just another thing to navigate  around or crash into.

So we’re protecting impaired drivers?

Unplanned large parties that may create a nuisance for neighbors may potentially be mitigated because the attendees cannot park vehicles on the street overnight without a  special permit.

We already have city codes that can prevent that such as noise ordinances.

As a result of very snowy winters, City streets can get a bit narrower due to the snow bank creep. Depending on how vehicles are parked on the street (assuming they were allowed to), larger emergency vehicles (fire trucks, ambulances) may not be able to fit between the parked vehicles. During the winter, plowing or de-icing trucks may be out addressing problem areas during the early morning hours. The parked vehicles reduce the truck’s ability to treat an entire area of concern. For snow events that start late in the evening or during the overnight hours, the parking restriction means that residents will not be surprised if a snow emergency is called during overnight hours.

Blah, blah! We already ave snow emergencies!

Now, do you see what I mean here? They talked about the “pros” and “cons” but clearly city staff has an agenda to keep things the way they are. Instead of opening up a “debate” on the issue, they are trying to influence the council. Talk about being bias! Personally, I continue to think that this is a revenue generator for the city and that is the real concern here.

Next the work session packet goes on to promote franchise fees which we’ve talked about extensively here. This is a city tax on utilities that is regressive in nature. It’s a tax no business, no church, no school, no household can avoid.

One revenue generating option that other cities have utilized are franchise fees. These fees are an additional charge put on customers monthly gas and electric bills. In these cases the utilities act as a pass-through for the fee which goes directly to the city.

In other words, it’s a hidden tax. You put it on there hoping nobody will notice.

Staff is not making any recommendation for or against franchise fees.

Oh yeah, you just happened to want the council to talk about it! I know I believe that. Here’s an idea; instead of “raising revenue and “how about we cut some city spending!  I know I believe that. Here’s an idea; instead of “raising revenue and “how about we cut some city spending instead of gauging us with another tax!!

Staff wants to main the parking ban and impose franchise fees. We need to contact our city council and tell them not to listen to them!

Work Session Packet

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Entry filed under: City Government, Community, Crystal, Mayor.

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1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Carolyn  |  May 14, 2015 at 3:22 pm

    I like not having people having their car of the streets over night. I don’t think it’s hard to get the permit to have cars parked on the street over night. I’ve gotten one before and it was easy. I don’t see what the problem is to keep things the way they are for street parking.

    Also just a question, but do we know which of the city staff live in Crystal and which don’t? It is not prudent to assume that all of the staff live outside of Crystal. For all we know the staff person/people that recommended these things live in Crystal. They have just as much say as us then when it comes to stay the same or change.

    Taxes. Taxes. Taxes. That’s always a hard one. I’m not sure at this time that our city has the capitol to pay for normal services, the new public works building, the water main repair, the new water towers, new Basset Creek play ground equipment, the Becker Park building, and whatever else I’m missing. I guess it comes down to would you rather the city be debt free or take out loans (aka bonding bills) and pay original cost plus interest to operate. Things take time and I am on your side for no more taxes. I’m waiting to see what happens and the logic that comes forth. Until we see more about actual expenses and operating costs I’m trusting the new council. Only time will warrant if it is verified or not.

    Reply

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