My Turn: Keep working for a Downtown parking solution

  • By ROBERT W. HAIGHT
  • Monday, October 26, 2015 1:00am
  • Opinion

Something dispiriting happened to me in Juneau on Friday, Oct. 16. I had a half-hour to kill in the afternoon and, since the swarms of tourists, cruise ship crews and seasonal workers had recently departed, I felt it safe to venture forth to see what was new downtown. Aware the new parking garage on Main Street only allowed permitted vehicles from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, I drove instead to the large parking area near Centennial Hall in the Willoughby District and easily found a spot.

I returned less than 30 minutes later to find a $25 ticket on my windshield. As I opened my car door a young man wearing a yellow jacket with “SECURITY” across the back approached me and asked if I understood the ticket. I said, “Not really,” and he pointed to an obscure sign over by Bullwinkle’s informing me that only State of Alaska employees may park where I did. After first acknowledging to him he was just doing his job, I felt the need to vent. I have lived in Juneau most of my life and take great pride in saying that. My wife and I are both work locally, pay CBJ property and sales taxes, buy locally most of the time, participate in community events, give to local charities and send our kids to Juneau public schools. Heck, we are even part of the “21-percenters” who vote in local elections.

That said, I don’t feel entitled to special privileges. I just want to know why it is so ridiculously hard to find a legal parking place downtown. It is no wonder locals who don’t live or work downtown avoid it like the plague, especially in the summer and especially during weekdays. To his credit, the poor fellow took my tirade in stride (probably not the first one he’s endured), and even agreed that CBJ’s parking policy was “vicious” (his word). So, I ask our incumbent and newly-elected Assembly members and Mayor Greg Fisk to again address the paucity of Downtown parking and to keep working on making Juneau more local-friendly.

• Robert W. Haight is a family physician and resident of Juneau since 1967.

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