Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Parking Spot with a View

I have been working at home a lot this year. It gets lonely, and quite honestly I think I would work harder in an office, but when my employers found an office for me I was only half-looking forward to it. I was excited to be around people, happy to have a reason to dress nice, and I love having an office to make my own. The down sides are that I'd have to spend money on gas and parking.

In May when I reported to work downtown for the first time I began parking in the lot next to the building. The monthly spots were all taken and I was told there is a one-year waiting list for reserved spots, but they don't reserve out the entire lot. They leave several spots open so that other people can still find a spot. They call this meter-rate parking. This means you go to the meter out front, put in money and put your ticket on the dashboard indicating how long you paid for. As a meter-parker I could park for the entire business day for $5.

As time went on, I found it difficult to work in the office. Mostly this was because I didn't actually have an office of my own. I don't even mean I shared an office, I mean I had a corner in a well worn pathway between the offices and the reception area. I had an L-shaped wall that was about 5 feet tall and partially enclosed my desk, but did nothing to prevent me from hearing all and seeing everything but the front door. I am quite sure this nook was built with one of those large photocopiers in mind, maybe a water-cooler. No matter what it was designed for, it didn't suit a person at all. I eventually decided I'd get more work done from home and by the end of June I just stopped going. When I quit working downtown, parking was $6 per day.

Some time has passed and now I have to work on a project with other people, so I am working in the office again. This time I just set up shop in the meeting room and it works out much better for me. I didn't ask if I could work in there though... so I just hope people don't arrive for a meeting one day while I am sitting at the table working and rocking out to the 80's. Earlier that morning on my first day I pulled in to the lot and found a spot. I was surprised how many were empty. I had my six bucks in coins ready but when I got to the meter I noticed that parking is now $7 per day. Between May and August parking fees had gone up twice and it was now 40% more than it was three and a half months ago!

I'm not saying the increase to $7 made it suddenly too much to park. Even when it was $5 I thought it was too much for me. To combat parking prices I always just parked across the river and then walked across to my building. It was only a ten minute walk, and at the time it saved me $25 a week in parking. Now it would save me $35, so it is very worth it. This morning I pulled on to where I had normally parked a couple months ago and saw that the entire area was now called the "Varsity View Bullshit Residential Parking Permit Zone". The sign said that if you want to park there between 8am and 5pm you need a pass proving you are a resident. This means that I have to park even further away. I tell ya, parking is just getting more and more annoying.

Actual, unaltered picture of the street sign. I'm serious.
I wouldn't lie.

It isn't the inconvenience of walking further that is annoying. It really only adds a minute to my walk. The annoying part is because I am cynical and the I couldn't help wonder about the reason this area was suddenly full of no parking signs. The houses in the area are very nice, very expensive houses and most have completely unobstructed views of the river from any of their three storeys. I couldn't help but imagine that these rich people rallied together to prevent City Hall from allowing us commoners-who-can't-afford-parking from polluting their streets with cars during business-hours-when-they-aren't-home-anyway. Those poor rich people have it so rough.

The expense of parking is actually quite ridiculous. If you think about it, my apartment is $700 a month. That is for an entire apartment - shelter, comfort, space, security, privacy, facilities, applicances - 24 hours a day, every day. If I carried that time frame through to a metered parking spot it would be $21 per day over 30 days a month. You'd be paying $630 a month for a 10 by 6 plot of pavement. At the current rate of increase, it will soon cost $700 a month to park. At that point you might as well rent an apartment downtown and drive your car into it. At least that way your car would be behind a couple of locked doors, it would be out of the elements, and maybe it would even have access to a nice view.

If I waited long enough I could certainly save money by getting a monthly parking pass. I think it is like $100. The funny thing though is that ALL the lots close to my building are full. I'd likely have to park several blocks away and walk for five minutes anyway. The most attractive option I guess is to park for free and walk ten minutes, so that is what I will do. It is the healthy choice too, so I don't really mind... but I am not looking forward to that walk in the middle of winter. By then my lot will probably be $10 per day because what the parking lot managers know is that most people would rather pay than be inconvenienced or placed in discomfort. I'm sure their mouths are just watering as they wait for -25 degree temperatures... the perfect weather for hosing their customers.

Parking lot executives in mid-January.

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