Texas Liberal

All People Matter

Stricter Parking Enforcement In Houston—Real Story Behind Solar Powered Meters

The City of Houston is going to step up enforcement at Downtown parking meters. The city is going enforce the limit of two hours at a meter even if you’ve paid the $6 all day Downtown Hopper rate. Parking enforcement officers will be tracking cars with handheld devices. They’ll plug your license plate number in and see how long you hang around. Even if you have paid for more time, you will get a ticket after two hours.

It is now also illegal for someone else to put money in your meter. I could write a check to pay your income tax bill or your electricity bill (I won’t though.) , but I can’t put 50 cents in your parking meter.

I’m not a reflexive basher of city services, but here’s the thing—THE METERS SO OFTEN DO NOT WORK. (That was my first all caps sentence in two and a half years of writing this blog.)

Our Houston parking meters are solar-powered meters. Yet often they don’t function even when the sun is shining. Here is a post I made last July about the solar-powered meters not working on a sunny 95 degree day.

Since then I’ve had a number of instances where I could not use the meters because they were not working. I go downtown between one to three times a week.

Maybe six weeks ago, I called a city councilmember’s office to complain. In the week after Christmas, I had a morning where I had to go to five meters (moving my car twice in the process) to find one that worked.

In my view, it’s clear the sunbeams the meters are collecting are being diverted to some kind of new and terrible solar weapon such as you see below.  This is the only possible answer as to why Houston councilmembers Sue Lovell and James Rodriguez would talk in the newspaper about stricter parking enforcement, without talking about how the meters, time and time again, do not work.  

Maybe the more people who try to use the meters without success, the more destructive energy the meters collect. It could be that beyond sunlight, the meters are also sapping human energy given off in incidents of extreme frustration trying to get the meters to work.   

Well, it’s one thing if Ms. Lovell and Mr. Rodriguez are the henchpeople of our military industrial complex (Assuming what you see below is a weapon of American or even Earth origin). That does not by definition get in the way of my finding a place to park. I  just wish that they would find a plan that would allow people to come to Downtown Houston and use a parking meter without such hassle.  

January 8, 2009 - Posted by | Houston, Politics | , , , , , , , ,


  1. Neil, Thanks for the feedback. I am sorry you had to move your car to find a working meter.

    There has been a fair amount of discussion about this downtown. Meters vary on the time they allow, based on the primary retail/business focus of the area–not all meters are 2 hours, and the downtown mgt district has had input on the decisions. The signage is not always clear; you are correct about that.

    Parking is changing from a person with chalk and a ticket book to a high tech, IP address tech industry, based on traffic patterns and research data as to usage, whether it is a lot or a meter. We are working to make it better, and the meters should work.

    It is also true that moving cars in and out to increase traffic flow is becoming a science. Parking is not just a service provided to the public–the businesses are involved in the discussion, at least through the downtown organizations. Our job is to help strike a reasonable balance in the process, and the equipment certainly should work.

    Again, my apologies.

    Comment by Melissa | January 11, 2009

  2. There’s a new eager beaver type ticket writer in the Hyde Park-Mt. Lookout neighborhoods of Cincinnati. He’s been seen to stand poised over a car, ticket partially written, as he stares at the meter ’til it clicks over to the red expiration status. Bright sunlight or not, he quickly writes in the license number, puts the ticket on the car.
    If you’re ever tempted to skip the requisite 5, 10 or 25-cent meter fee, even if the 6 p.m. end of the day’s meter cycle is only minutes away, resist the temptation. It’s not worth a $25 ticket.

    Comment by Newton | January 11, 2009

  3. Melissa— I’m for a balance and can understand the need to keep things moving. All I can tell you is that the old meters worked and the news ones have been a hassle from the get go. People may adjust to the new rules. But the meters being hard to use is the kind of thing that makes people hate government.

    Newton—He seems quite diligent in his duties.

    Thanks for both comments.

    Comment by Neil Aquino | January 12, 2009

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