The progressive version of community always needs villains.

I don’t want to make too much of it, but something seems off to me about Bill Bartholomew’s crusade against Providence businesses’ commandeering parking spaces to use for use in their valet parking service.  (I assume that means they’re the spaces right in front of the businesses, allowing cars to pull in and then be parked by valets.)  Previously, Bartholomew has tweeted about removing the cones and parking in the spots.

The off part is that, despite pretentions to being a journalist, he didn’t ask the businesses what they are doing and why.  He went to the mayor’s office to ask about laws and fines.  The impression is that he sees the business owners as “the Man,” abusing the system for their own profit, so they’re targets, not members of the community trying to resolve challenges as they play their part building the vibrant city that everybody claims to want.

The peculiarity is that this seems like it ought to be a solvable problem.  A busy restaurant that holds a spot for valet processing may very well increase the amount of parking available.  A restaurant, for example, efficiently packs dozens of cars in small lots for its patrons, who would otherwise park on the street or (more likely) just stop going into the city for dinner.  That’s a gain all around.  But for the sacrifice of that one spot per restaurant, the parking situation in the area would be multiples worse.

If the concern is that the city isn’t realizing revenue from the use of the spot, then the solution is a process for applying and paying for special use at particular times.  I suspect the reality is the city has managed this matter using enforcement discretion up to now, and putting an actual system in place would probably be preferably.

Whether it ought to be a top priority just because Bill Bartholomew is annoyed is another question.

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