Mayor Mike McGinn, or as I like to call him, M3, has proposed a new initiative to make Seattle nightlife safer.
The first part of his proposals involves cab stands. Mike would designate specific parking meters for cabs after hours, which would in turn make it easier to hail a ride home. These convertible cab stands are being proposed for Downtown, Belltown, Pioneer Square, Broadway, The U District, and Ballard.
The second part of his proposal is “pre-paid meter parking”, which is scheduled to get its start in the Pike/Pine neighborhood.
The premise of prepaid parking is that, if you are too drunk to drive home, you can “pre-pay” your parking meter for the hours of 8am-10am. This gives you an extra two hours to retrieve your car the next morning before getting a parking ticket.
Now, while this initiative sort of makes sense, I see a few of problems with its actual implementation.
The first is the 10am deadline.
If you are not sober enough to drive at 7:55am, what are the chances that you will be sober enough to drive at 8:55am, or 9:55am?
If, like me, you’ve ever consumed copious amounts of alcohol after midnight, you probably know that 4-5 hours is not enough time to sleep it off. At 8am or 9am in the morning, you’re still either:
1) Somewhat drunk; or
Studies have repeatedly shown that driving hungover is almost as bad as driving drunk. Do we really want a bunch of hungover drivers retrieving their cars en-masse at 9:30am? I fail to see how this will make the streets of Seattle “safer”.
Another problem I see is that these “drunk” cars will become sitting ducks for meter maids who will camp out next to the cars with prepaid parking stickers, ready to ticket them at 10:01am. You know this will happen, and I know this will happen. The Seattle City Government tends to treat our citizens like cellphone companies treat their customers.
If people get back to their cars at 10:01 am, they are going to get a ticket, thus nullifying their efforts from the night before. When this happens, they are likely to simply drive home drunk the next time. Again, this does not exactly make the streets of Seattle safer.
Next, these cars will become targets for law enforcement. Hey, officer, want to make a quick DUI arrest? Park behind a “drunk car” and wait for the owner to stagger back. As I mentioned above, the chances are pretty good that he/she will still have a detectable amount of alcohol in their system.
Well, that’s up to the Breathalyzer.
Last, but certainly not least, these cars are going to get broken into or stolen. If you pay for the morning time, you clearly live a long way from where your car is parked, and you won’t be back for some time. By the time you come back and file a police report, the thieves will be long gone with your car and/or your belongings.
I fully support the Mayor’s cab stand idea, but this “pre-paid parking” thing … not so much. It’s fraught with far too many problems that I don’t think have been properly addressed.
In addition, I don’t really get the point from the drunk’s perspective. Since you are going to have to take a cab or transit back to your car in the morning, why not just take a cab or transit to the bar in the first place? This way, you can sleep as long as you want, which will truly make the streets of Seattle safer.
In my opinion, this is the far superior idea, and is the only one that should be so strongly encouraged by the city.