I Love Boston, Why Can't It Love Me?

Resident parking restrictions in densely populated cities are necessary. While this is no less true of Boston than other large cities, it is not necessary that our restrictions be so silly.

Last week my wife and I bought our first new car.  New cars are fun but this is a story about interacting with Boston City Hall.  Boston City Hall sucks.

We all get old and, hopefully, learn to take the bad expecting the good.  The bad, in this case, was that we got a "lunch at Subway" trade-in for a car that we loved and (often, if not always) loved us back.  Nevermind that we paid excise tax on a value far higher than what the car turned out to be worth in cash.  The good was that we were able to grind out a great deal on our first brand new car.  All of a sudden, every button on our dashboard works again!

It took a little longer than we expected, but the title and registration was dutifully sorted out by the dealership.  Even paying the sales tax (admittedly a state revenue) as well as reporting the new, much higher, value of our new car to the city bursar was frictionless.  

The only thing that was left to us was getting a parking sticker for the new car. No sweat, right?  

After making a trip to the dealer to pick up our new registration, I thought I would swing by city hall to take care of sticker business.  After driving around downtown for 45 minutes, passing countless empty spaces designated for various city employees, as well as countless*countless (countless squared) police cruisers and officer vehicles parked wherever the hell they stopped moving (sometimes on sidewalks, often in front of hydrants, and occasionally just plain in the middle of the road), I gave up and went home.  I thought it would be easier to take the bus.

Again, no sweat- I have lived in this city for almost a decade, and in big cities for almost two.  I can ride the hell out of a bus...  Got to City Hall and waited for a bit so a "couldn't be bothered" city employee could finally "ask me to approach their window."  Despite a title and registration that had been issued that very morning to the same plate as the old resident sticker, I was told that I couldn't get a new sticker until I presented the remains of the previous sticker!

"What he hell are you talking about?", I thought.  We traded the car in- by then it was probably halfway to an auction in Virginia or Ohio or Who The Hell Knows Where.  Now what?  Ever so kind, City Hall relented on their demand the letter be notarized, but nevertheless wanted a letter from the dealer detailing the circumstances of the sale as well as the fate of a sticker in the rear window of a car barely worth standing up to evaluate as a trade in.  

I called the salesman who we bought the car from and he agreed to scribble out whatever we needed.  I have no idea if the guy who sold me the car lied in writing.  I do know, however that after selling hundreds of cars into the Boston market, he could not believe my story.  In writing, he said that the sticker was destroyed.  I really doubt he had any idea what had really happened to the sticker.  He did, however, recognize the absurd obstacle the city was throwing down despite my good standing as a property tax, sales tax, and excise tax paying citizen.  It worked and I got the damned sticker.

My first reaction is that this stinks like a Republican claim of widespread voter fraud in order to disenfrachise thousands of Democrat voters.  Likewise, in order to avoid enforcing their own regulations as well as their own safeguards to said regulations, the parking department burdens the citizens with bs obstacles in the name of defending us against "widespread parking fraud" associated with used cars being sold into the same parking area that they were owned in.  Sounds like bs to me; to wit, they write the plate number of the associated car on the sticker itself.  If the parking ticket "helpers" are doing their jobs, they are checking stickers agains plates.  In the case of any sold car, the plate changes making the sticker useless.

Like I said, I got the sticker...  I hope everyone still reading my screed can see, too, that this is an example of the city placing an unreasonable, and silly, burden on citizens in order to make their department easier to run.  

With winter approaching, it won't be long until I get to the emotional and civic heart of my argument which centers on the selective enforcement of laws based on their ability to raise revenue.  Cones are for awads.

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Gtree November 23, 2012 at 05:21 PM
I feel your pain, I just saw someone got turn away for no old sticker. What gets me is that if you look up on the City's website, there is nothing about bringing in an old sticker. Just what type of documents you need to prove residency.
Owen November 25, 2012 at 12:41 AM
It's a racket, plain and simple. Parking laws and enforcement are some of the most ridiculous and unfair.
Just a person! November 25, 2012 at 11:14 PM
Ridiculous, yes! But just think, what is stopping anybody from getting two stickers, for the same plate? And, using it on another car? Yes you say they should check the plate and the sticker, but most metermaids, just ride by and look at the sticker not the plate, so you could have two cars and only one legal one.
heehaw November 26, 2012 at 03:39 AM
Yes, unscrupulous offenders could do that and more. The point, however, is that the burden should be on the city to enforce the laws in such a way as to make this kind of behavior unattractive to would be scofflaws. Parking management is a huge revenue center for the city of Boston. Sadly, mr. mumbles et al have forgotten that the streets we live on are paid for and maintained by us, tax paying home owners and renters (who pay taxes that are built into their rent). My beef, in this case, is that the city places an outrageous burden on me, an aforementioned tax payer, to prove I am not taking more of what is mine than I deserve. Ostensibly, there is a reason that the city writes plate numbers on parking stickers. If the meter maids are not able to lift their asses from the cars they troll around in and look at the stickers, then mumbles needs to find new help.
Rob O'Brien November 27, 2012 at 03:36 PM
This is truly absurd. Have you considered writing to Menino and our City Councilors?


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