Monday, November 26, 2018

Christmas City Tickets Shoppers, Easton Ignores Neighborhoods

It's no surprise that Bethlehem is raising its parking rates again. After all, someone has to pay for Dennis Benner's parking garage. Heaven forbid that it be him. Bethlehem hands out tax incentives to developers like candy cane. For the citizens, it's coal in the form of yet another tax hike. For visitors who actually shop and help struggling small businesses, their trees are decorated with parking tickets.

One NY family who visited the Lehigh Valley this weekend draws an interesting distinction between Bethlehem and Easton. Unlike Bethlehem, Easton had free parking this holiday weekend and will continue free parking on weekends until Christmas. Here's a letter she sent to Bethlehem Mayor Bob Donchez:
My family and I visited the Lehigh Valley area this weekend for Black Friday shopping. We shopped in Easton, Bethlehem and the Sands outlets; we spent more than $2,000 supporting your local businesses. While Mayor Panto enabled visitors to shop this weekend by suspending meter parking, we were surprised to received a $10 parking ticket while supporting some of your local shops on 3rd Street in Bethlehem on November 24.

I will pay this ticket since I did break the law by not feeding the meter. Next year, we will shop in the towns that provide visitors with a suspended meter courtesy while supporting your local businesses. Downtown Bethlehem is scratched from our shopping stops.
I am informed Mayor Donchez has informed her he will discuss this matter with the Executive Director of the Parking Authority. That discussion should have been had a long time ago.

Don't leave here thinking Easton is blameless. Mayor Sal Panto does deserve credit for suspending parking enforcement over the holiday season. But as Terrence Miller observes in a recent letter to the editor, Easton has pretty much failed to improve the infrastructure in its neighborhoods.
To put it in perspective, while the city leverages debt by giving away a $6 million parcel of land to the Da Vinci Science City project within a $30 million commitment, bank rolls $360,000 on behalf of Billy's Diner fit-out while losing millions of dollars on the City Hall and Transportation Center, it can't afford a mere $15,000 for traffic-calming signs to protect children from speeding cars on a single street that cuts through the West Ward.

49 comments:

Anonymous said...

Wow ...I think I'll stay out here in Slatington and Palmerton where there haint no such thing as those quarter-gobbling parking meters.

Anonymous said...

I'm skeptical of the letters' validity . I also support the idea of free parking .

Anonymous said...

Bethlehem is just into gouging now. The super insiders get the money and the projects and everyone else pays the freight. This is even worse than the idiot idea of taxpayers fixing a church that you wrote about.

Anonymous said...

And ,isn’t the city still paying off Mrs Sollomen s Atty , The felon Karoly ?

Anonymous said...

Never got a parking ticket from leaving my bicycle places downtown.

Blue Badger

Anonymous said...

Bethlam spends what it wants and begs for what it needs

Moontrance said...

Good teacher, lousy mayor

Anonymous said...

Parking in both cities is always a consideration when choosing not to go to either. I find myself going less and less. Cool towns. But the hassles are many and there are lots of other options.

Anonymous said...

Go to the Malls. Free parking, great stores, easy access, and you don't have to go outside
to brave the weather. They even have a Santa for the kids.

Anonymous said...

The Lehigh Valley Mall and strip malls have free parking all the time. Great stores and no parking Authority, to give a drive by ticket to ruin your day. I tried to shop at the Phantoms gift shop but the meter would not take my credit card and then flashed Sunday. I asked the phantoms worker if parking was free and they said no it applies every day except Sunday. Now I know the Authoirty would not be understanding of thenmeternnot taking my card. I am not a member of Council and I am not the Mayor who can park anywhere anytime for free. Rather than risk a ticket and ruin my black Friday, I left. I rather put $15 in my gas tank.

Still grateful to the Easton Ambassador who once gave me change for the meter when businesses would not.

Anonymous said...

Can a municipality legally meter a state road?

Anonymous said...

The meters actually serve a purpose, and now that they are all smart meters it's really not at all hard to extend your time if need be. If parking were free it would decrease turnover, resulting in less people being able to visit local businesses. Traffic and congestion would increase as people would have to drive around and around to find parking.

And who spends a couple grand in 1 weekend and then complains about a $10 ticket? C'mon, people!

Anonymous said...

It's not so much the money. It's the annoyance and inconvenience and feeling like a criminal. It's the taste that's left in your mouth as you leave. Kinda ruins a good day. I understand why people would avoid wanting that experience.

Bernie O'Hare said...

2:39, if the letter had no validity, theMayor could easily say so. But it does. It was forwarded to me by a friend who hosted this family. A copy was also sent to a local paper.

Bernie O'Hare said...

7:24, no one has said that metered parking is unnecessary, although I believe it is completely unnecessary in most communities. It is there for revenue, not traffic. But even if necessary, there is no reason why Bethlehem should fuck visitors on holiday weekend s. By the way there are numerous communities right here in the LV with no meters

Anonymous said...

A $10 ticket is hardly "fucking" visitors. And I would argue that the holiday season is when meters are most necessary in downtown Bethlehem. I'm there almost every weekend between Thanksgiving and Christmas and parking can be tricky. It's for that very reason that I carpool with friends or take a Lyft whenever possible. Obviously, visitors don't often have these options, but I'm just saying that if the meters were free parking and traffic would be even more difficult in that area as people like me would be less incentivized to share rides or park a couple of blocks away.

Just as a PSA - I highly recommend downloading the parking app. It can text you 15 minutes before your time expires and you can extend the time right from the app.

Anonymous said...

This is exactly why people want to support local businesses but don't!!! Parking Authorities are the Cash Cows of all of the cities with metored parking. Try and support your local business as you drive around and around trying to find a place to park. Then you are lucky you have found a spot.Then ya better have change !!! I will shop online or go to the Mall

Anonymous said...

Billys Diner is over hyped and overpriced.

Bernie O'Hare said...

9:12, a cheerleader for parking tickets! Hate to break it to you, but most people hate them. A city that calls itself the Christmas City and relies heavily on tourism should be found everything it can to help weekend tourists during the holiday season.

Bernie O'Hare said...

I agree about Billy’s Diner. I refuse to go to any of them and stopped years ago. Billy kisses the right assesand gets government handouts. In fact, I think he’s on Bethlehem’s Parking Authority.

Anonymous said...

For a Tea Party guy Billy has very little problem with government subsidizes as long as they are going to him.

SEIU Steward said...

Bernie doesn't like Billy's because that's where the bronze Adonis with the jet black locks would hold court over a hearty vegan omelet served with dry rye toast OJ and black coffee.

Loved the many deep chats we had brother, your booth should be roped off from the hoi polloi and only used when you return to town.

Anonymous said...

"9:12, a cheerleader for parking tickets!"

Lol, I'm more of a cheerleader for downtown Bethlehem. I just really love the area, especially around this time of year! I truly believe that if parking there were free it'd be a huge mess. Imho, downtown Easton is a much less attractive destination so it might make sense there...

Anonymous said...

My wife and I were at Southside 313 on Friday from about 7 to 8:30 and as I fed the meter a quarter, I looked at the message and it said that parking was free. I was annoyed that I didn't get my quarter back so maybe it was only on the southside? Hellertown has free parking, how is that?

rockybwinkle said...

Overall, glad Easton allows free parking on weekends during the holidays because it definitely helps local stores. As for Bethlehem, during the holidays I've always parked in the garage and never had a problem. Does Bethlehem still offer free parking in the garage with a store voucher? If not, I might change my tune.

2:39 The letter to the Express-Times was based on information from the city itself, obtained through a formal Right to Know request.

As for Billy's... Though straying from the point of this blog, I just cant' understand why the city/mayor of Easton were so hell-bent at getting the diner in there at just about any cost. Billy's has already cut dinner hours because no one's going there. Not money well-spent so far, it seems. I'd love to see a journalist dig into that.

Anonymous said...

Reminds me of two dynamics I see:
1- government's thirst for money is insatiable
2- politicians have conditioned people that nothing will get done without an infusion of taxpayer's money via subsidies and "incentives".
Both need to be reined in.

Anonymous said...

There was 3 hours of free parking in Bethlehem when you used the mobile app on Small Business Saturday. It has been done the last few years. "Saturday, November 24, residents and visitors shopping in downtown Bethlehem, PA will receive their first three hours free when parking at any on-street metered space using the free MobileNOW! app."

rockybwinkle said...

Even Philly is offering free parking: http://bit.ly/2DZTJ3X

Anonymous said...

If you're a New Yorker and want to evade paying New York's sales taxes shop in Pennsylvania, but you may have to support our parking infrastructure.

If your spending $2000 the tax avoidance is considerable and worth the price of a parking space.

LVCI said...

There was 3 hours of free parking in Bethlehem when you used the mobile app
I don't have a mobile phone. So all I have to do is drop around $400 a year for a plan and buy a phone to take advantage of the "FREE" parking..... or I could shop anywhere else but downtown.

I could understand it's possible Bethlehem (and et al) might like to harvest information from the app but as for me I like to keep things simple and a bit more private.

Geesh, pretty soon I won't be able to flush w/o an app knowing how much, where, when and what I ate the way things are going. Eough with these damn apps already!

Anonymous said...

An out of towner from NY wouldn't really know about the parking app for the city of Bethlehem.
7:53 hit the nail on the head. It's not about thew money --its more about the bad taste it leaves in your mouth. Kinda makes you feel like a criminal and ruins a nice shopping day.

Anonymous said...

If there were no meters at all it would be much easier for competing businesses to park-up all the spots around a competitor. People who have to live in these areas could also park there as well, which is why business lobbied hard for metering in the first place. Stop blaming the city.

Without meters there would be no spaces at all.

It's very simple, once again you have a choice, pay to park or go to the Mall.

Bernie O'Hare said...

This is not about the need for metered parking. This is about the need for it on a holiday weekend at a city designed to soak up Christmas dollars.

Anonymous said...

Also, regarding the West Ward, Easton Never puts any Christmas Decorations past 5th Street
All the property owners and Business's pay City Taxes, why doesn't The Mayor put Decorations in the West Ward. We are not greedy, we would even accept prior decorations from past years.

Anonymous said...

One question... Is that you Bernie in the Santa suit?

Bernie O'Hare said...

He is much too thin.

Anonymous said...

Suspending meter rates on a busy shopping weekend is bad public policy. Studies have shown that it leads to increases in traffic congestion and accidents. The $1 per hour charged in downtown Bethlehem is already quite low when compared to similar cities. (google Donald Shoup if interested)

Anonymous said...

Mayor Panto only is interested in two things: Lafayette College and the downtown area. Everybody else can go to hell.

Anonymous said...

Free parking or not, I won't frequent downtown Easton businesses until the commuter tax is redacted.

Anonymous said...

Love the parking Authority insider groupie. Stop with the parking babble. You have zero evidence that limited free parking will be problematic. Also people hate parking decks. They are dangerous and at time poorly lit. Of course you could site statistics like Pawlowski did in Allentown and see how well that played. The city wants to force people into parking decks to save space but polls show people overwhelmingly hate decks.

Fact is your new high tech gouging operation is one of the reasons people will go to the Malls an not shop or eat downtown. It is unfriendly and all about the gouging. People see the Parking authority Nazis literally trolling the street slowly in their buggies looking to write tickets. Do they get a commission on writing them? The Authority really went super after the Cunningham years.

Seriously, you business plan is short sighted and designed for the insiders.

Anonymous said...

When you get a ticket on the automobile it is never pleasant. I am pro police , pro prosecutor service too. Although, it happens and it is not pleasant but you pay it and learn from it.
Atleast I do. Only thing I ever wrote after getting a ticket was the check. However, it isn't no complicated phenomenon. You park illegally you risk getting a ticket. That results in a fiscal fine. Not much else to it. Hope he returns though because Bethlehem and Easton are nice this time of year.

Anonymous said...

7:33 Godwin's law = you lose

And I'm far from a Bethlehem parking authority "insider". I work for northampton county drs (unfortunately).

Anonymous said...

Polk Street Dev. Assoc. L.P. Second Addendum to Lease
Attorney Broughal announced that the next item involves three parking lots on Mechanic Street that are owned by Polk Street Development L.P. The original lease was entered back in 2005 and this lease is the second Addendum. Since these lots are underutilized, we went back to the lessee and renegotiated the lease. Attorney Broughal informed the Board that lessee is going to give up two of the lots and only utilize one. Attorney Broughal explained that once the Polk Street Garage is built, we would move the lessee into the garage and we would have three surface lots available for future development.
Recent minutes

Already cutting back door deals for the Polk St garage. Political Hacks

Peter J.Cochran said...

Bernie,the enforcement dynamics are most different in the cities. Easton got technical early and has upgraded parking issue. Meters sort of create a mental draw on consistency that are responsible. The meters move the cars around mostly among responsible operators. Now I know what your thinking. However EASTON has not adjudicated any parking tickets to my knowledge since around my retirement date as constable . Not as the result of the event ,but same time line . So, unless they get you with a boot they don’t get you most likely. Easton also got with plate readers that are now used to validate registration renewals.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Bethlehem is horrible and inconsiderate with regards to parking citations. They have special celebration violations during musikfest which doubles the parking fines. They don't appreciate visitors who support the city. I'm not surprised hearing this. Go do you shopping somewhere else.

Bernie O'Hare said...

7:45, post your bigotry elsewhere.

Peter J.Cochran said...

I saw that Bernie , but guess what I would trade Hispanic folks that bust their buts working for some of our “citizens “ that collect and do nothing. Having been in a heavy minority infantry battalion years ago ,I can testify that Hispanics make great troops. One of my best friends became the Sgt Major of the P.R. Army Nation Guard and went to see him there. That poster was indeed raciest.

Patriot2 said...

Progressive cities don’t charge for meter parking but do enforce 3 hour maximum parking to get turnover. Bethlehem chooses the old model of parking meter fees in front of its businesses as a money grab but has no meters near city hall. No wonder the Promenade is destroying retail on Main Street & Bethlehem Mayor doesn’t get it,

Garage rates need to be increased to reduce subsidies to developers already benefitting from CRIZ designation.