Dear Sandpoint city government: Snow parking tickets and other disappointments

By Mike Jewell
Reader Contributor

I love Sandpoint but I don’t live in town. I’d either forgotten from past years or maybe never knew about the rather arcane snow parking law the city has. And I rarely park anywhere other than downtown.

So, two days ago, while visiting a friend out on Church Street I parked in front of his house (south side of the street) for a couple of hours.

You guessed it. I got a $50 parking ticket. It had been raining for three days straight, there was virtually no snow left (47 degrees out) and the forecast was for more of the same.

OK, I should have somehow known about the law. My bad. But would it be so terrible to give a warning the first time? You know, education, second chances and all… (suggestion No. 1).

I hope you see that I’m not criticizing the law. It’s there to help all of us get through the winter, but its implementation leaves lots to be desired.

Well, the citation said I could appeal online. Ok, that should have saved me and the city employees some time and effort. So, I jumped online, put in my citation number and the website said I “cannot appeal any more. Past the appeal date.” What? It had only been one day!

So, I called the city. (More wasted time). The guy said the website is broken (or something like that) and I must appeal in person at City Hall.

Suggestion No. 2: Change the wording under “Appeal Information” to be accurate. To find out that, despite what the citation said, I couldn’t, in fact, appeal online was disturbing enough without then being told clearly bogus information as to why. Once again, this is really bad form.

Suggestion No. 3: Fix your @#$%&*% website so we don’t both have to waste our time doing this in person in your office. My time is valuable and I assume yours is, too. Plus, broken city websites give my beloved town a bad look.

Also, it’s funny how your website works fine for taking my money but somehow is broken for letting me fill out a simple form to appeal my case. (This is one of the most fundamental and simplest functions of a website.)

And then, the last straw.

Given all of the above, I’m thinking my appeal will likely be a waste of time. So I decided to go ahead and pay the fine (online). I was dismayed to see that you have the gall to tack on a $3.95 (7.9% in this case) “Online Convenience Fee.” What a scam. The credit card charge to you is probably only 3% or so. Taking payments online saves you money, labor, mistakes, etc. Those savings should let you charge the face amount of the citation and more or less break even all the while avoiding the “bad will” of this process and subsequent loss of support from your community. 

It’s simply stupid, uninspired policy that all too often characterizes bad government.

I’m wanting my city to be better than this.

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