Parking signs should have had public’s input

Surprise, Clovis. We have a new rule, and it affects everyone who shops downtown on Main Street. As of Tuesday, there’s a two-hour parking limit.

The new traffic regulation was not publicly debated. Most of us didn’t even know a problem existed that needed to be fixed. And most of us includes some of the Main Street business owners who will be most affected by government’s latest intrusion into our lives.

Clovis’ Public Works Director Clint Bunch said the parking time limits were imposed after business owners complained about other business’ customers hogging all the nearby public parking.

City Manager Joe Thomas said he made the decision to post the signs based on the recommendation of a public works committee — it meets at 8:30 a.m. the fourth Wednesday of each month — that includes four city commissioners, one representing each district.

This action arose from a problem involving two entities in one block of Main. One business owner told the city his parking spots were being used by folks from the other nearby business for many hours at a time.

The Public Works Committee — including Commissioners Chris Bryant, Randy Crowder, Fidel Madrid and Len Vohs — heard the complaint and soon after recommended the parking restriction.

Unfortunately, few on Main Street or elsewhere were asked if they had a problem, or what they thought about a two-hour parking limit.

That strikes us, intended or not, as arrogant. And it raises a concern because now we have a new rule based on a recommendation at an early morning public committee meeting that few people in the public have time to attend.

Then there is the cost associated with this regulation. Not just buying and erecting the signs, but the time and effort our police officers have to devote to enforcing the time limit and citing violators.

Oh, wait. Strike that thought. Bunch and Thomas have said city leaders have no plans to actively enforce the new rule, that it is merely a “tool” to use against violators.

Now we’re talking selectively enforced rules. Does that sound like a magnet for lawsuits against the city of Clovis? See if that doesn’t happen the first time the city cites one violator of this new policy but not others.

If there are no plans to enforce a rule fully, why waste time passing it?

After finally hearing from some business owners unhappy with the new parking time limits, Bunch has encouraged anyone interested to attend the next Public Works Committee meeting set for 8:30 a.m. Aug. 24 at City Hall.

“We’re willing to help out the public any way we can and if there’s a better idea, we’d like to hear it,” he said.

Here’s a way better idea: Joe Thomas should reverse his decision and start the process over.

Invite full public input. Listen to all points raised before creating a new rule most residents don’t know is even necessary.

Deflecting government control in our lives is hard enough even when we know the topic and what time the battle is set to begin.

These time-limit signs need to come down today and remain down until the community has a chance to thoroughly and openly debate the need for a two-hour parking limit. And whether it makes sense to spend time and money enforcing it.