NEW ORLEANS – Harold Dale and other folks who live and work in the 1100 block of Decatur Street love having what they call an “oasis” parking spot in front of Molly’s on the Market.They got me a few months ago under similar circumstances. I still don't know why I was towed but I tend to think people who contest fines or complain to the manager in restaurants are entitled assholes so I just paid the fine and let it go. But that notwithstanding, it's pretty clear the city is running a scam on people.
Dale, a night manager at the bar who also lives upstairs, parked in the spot on a recent Sunday when a city tow truck hitched up his van and started to take it to the impound. Dale was working at another job down the street, so his coworkers at Molly’s pleaded with the tow truck driver, pointing at a sign indicating that a bus stop ran from in front of Dale’s vehicle to the corner.
Molly’s bartender Jessi Vojt tried to explain that the “Pay to Park” zone doesn’t start until a few feet behind Dale’s van.
“It’s a free spot,” she said.
It didn’t work.
And even though Dale won $181.25 back from the city the very next day, when a hearing officer admitted it shouldn’t have been towed, the tow truck driver was back to tow more cars just a few days later.
“I think that they probably know (it’s a free spot) but they just write the tickets and tow the cars and just hope that 90 percent of the people probably won’t fight it, and I imagine that’s the case,” Dale said.
Other complaints include missing signs, like one end of a Freight Zone marked on Constance Street behind the Cotton Mill condominiums, where residents have been getting towed a lot lately. There’s a Freight Zone sign on one side of a service entrance to the building, but nothing on the other side of the driveway. Rainey acknowledged that the other Freight Zone is missing and said the city Sign Shop was in the process of making a new one to get it installed.But we're supposed to be okay about that because, according to the fashionable progressive orthodoxy, cars are bad. Sure we're ripping people off. But now we get to sell it as enlightened urban policy.
And then there are paperwork issues. Cotton Mill resident Julie Egren got a notice in the mail last August saying she owed $80 on a parking ticket she got in July… July 2012. She said it was the first she heard of it.
And Dr. Juan Gershanik paid a $20 fine this month when he tried to contest a ticket he got on Poydras Street – another cluster of signs confused him because a Street Cleaning and Parade Route sign were placed in front of a Bus Stop sign facing away from the street. He lost the appeal, but then the city sent him a collections notice for $60 and claimed it had no record of his $20 check.