I’ve written a few blogs about my issues with my neighborhood. I did end up getting the attention of the city councilman, who actually cares about doing the right thing. He listened. He was responsive and not sure how he missed my email. He immediately took a look at the street and determined there was an issue with parking. While I simply wanted the curve to be a “No Parking” zone because fire trucks couldn’t make it through the bend the way it was, it turns out there was a bigger issue.
Out of the people who attended the meeting, 90% of them were residents of the apartments, 7% were city officials, and then only 2 homeowners on the street: myself and my husband. The ones that they blamed for the horrible situation they are in now: they can’t park all along both sides of a curved street. I was prepared. Public safety was a major concern, which should trump any convenience that they felt they were entitled to. It does suck that good people have to suffer because some people want to be inconsiderate. I felt like offering up a suggestion of permit parking in the apartment parking lot would be a great idea.
Was I pissed that my property was not just damaged once but 4 times in the 4 years I had lived there up until that point? Absolutely. But there was a bigger issue. There were ambulances that had to park in my driveway because they couldn’t park close enough to the apartments. That’s time that could matter in life and death situations. What if a house catches fire and the fire truck can’t make it around the bend to save people? That should be a concern. Not “but it’s too far to walk”, despite the fact that the people who complained at the meeting either a) didn’t have a car or b) already parked where the “No Parking” spaces end. They should be happy the fire trucks and ambulances can better reach them. That their public transportation can get to them easier.
But no. I’m an evil, horrible human being that is targeting the apartment people because I hate poor people. Because I have an in with the government because obviously I’m rich since I’m a homeowner. First of all, I was a single, teen mom who worked long hours to make ends meet and still failed and needed public assistance. I know what it’s like to be poor and I never forget sacrificing my own meals so my son never starved. Second of all, if I were rich I would be living on the other side of the school where the houses are bigger and have better lawns. I didn’t know that my complaint would get “No Parking” signs along half the street on both sides. The thing is… it wasn’t just me.
Sure, my complaint may have started the snowball effect but it was them who turned it into a snowman. The fire department said that they had issues and wanted the “No Parking” signs. But still, it was my fault. Somehow a nobody like me can apparently influence an entire city government. I can’t. If I could, my blog would be a lot bigger and I’d be much more famous. And rich. And living on the other side of the school.
The meeting itself was a mess. They were yelling over each other. They pointed in my direction, saying “just because some flower pots got destroyed” as if that mattered. It didn’t. It was the catalyst; not the cause. The government officials there explained the case and I understood. I didn’t like that I can’t have guests parked outside of my house but it was a logical choice from the city engineer standpoint. As the councilor said, “It may not have been the popular choice, but it was the right choice.” I agree with the signs even more today than I did before. Plus, they should be happy now that they have have more room to sprawl out their lawn chairs and grills in the street. It really is a win/win.
We explained that we wanted a safer neighborhood for everyone to enjoy. Some understood. Others stormed out of the meeting feeling like they were ignored. Again, those were the people that were unaffected by this. They felt as though they were entitled to park in the street and didn’t like it when our councilor told them that they aren’t. That the street isn’t a parking lot, it’s a public street that the city dictates what can and cannot happen. He made sense. He listened. He tried to explain the point repeatedly of how the signs were really fixing a mistake of the past. He was kind to them, only to have them disrespect him and the very kind head of the DPW.
I admit that I’m a misanthrope, but my intentions were good. I didn’t ask for parking to be banned outside of my house. I suggested that there should be no parking around the curb and that people blocking the sidewalk to the school should be dealt with. I didn’t know that the other city departments complained about the issue. When I complained, he did what he had to do and he found out there were a lot of complaints and concerns. He was just the only person who cared enough to fix it.
They are planning to re-address this at a meeting in August. What do I think will happen then? I think they will make things worse for themselves. I predict that they think the street will become a one-way street and it will fix the problem, not acknowledging the fact that the fire department said they wanted that side to be “No Parking”. They will get permits for their cars, but then they have to worry about the legal repercussions of that. That’s assuming anything will change, which it probably won’t. As much as this inconveniences me, it’s the right call. I’m okay with the sacrifice for the greater good of the neighborhood. There are a lot of elderly people on this street and having access to emergency vehicles should be the top priority, not what’s convenient.
I don’t want to go in August, so I can have the evil stares and people actually attack me as if I’m the cause of their problems. But it’s all about making a change when you feel one is needed to make things better. And I can go to sleep very comfortably knowing that I did just that. My conscience is clear. I saw an issue, I took the steps to resolve the issue, and the issue was resolved. That really should have been the end of it. And that is the end of my experience with participating in the local government.