by Michael Platt
If that’s really the law, give the meddling twerps a snow shovel and tell them to get busy.
Otherwise, city hall: My driveway, my property.
So back off, and find some other ridiculous rule to enforce as you go about looking for things to tax and regulate.
Those who missed the city’s Tweet earlier this week might wonder if this columnist has become the driveway version of a grumpy old man yelling at kids to get off his lawn.
But this is no outburst of wrinkled wrath — this is rage over a ridiculous rule the city has suddenly seen fit to publicize over social media, following a media report on the subject.
“Have you considered renting your parking space to make a little money?” reads the official City of Calgary blog linked to the city’s Tweet.
“Several websites are now promoting people to rent their parking spots at their residence, but what Calgarians may not be aware of is that this is against the law.”
Ludicrous fails to describe this little-known bylaw in the municipal rule book, through which a driveway you own, tend in winter and pay taxes on isn’t really yours.
You can use it sure, but unlike the rest of your personal property, the patch of land where your car normally sits isn’t yours to share or make a profit from.
“The rules do not support Calgarians renting out their parking spaces,” Mark Sasges, chief development planner, is quoted as saying.
“This could cause planning impacts where cars intended to be accommodated in a given house are displaced into neighbourhood streets causing parking to spill over into the community.”
So, a practice that goes on in major metropolitan centres all over North America and Europe is banned here, because it might cause a parking crunch on the street?
Seriously? In a city known for having the country’s worst case of sprawl, space to park is hardly an issue in the vast majority of communities — yet Calgary has a law preventing driveway sharing.
It doesn’t make any sense in the inner city either, where space really is at a premium — virtually every inner-city street has parking restrictions or fees, making the supposed spillover of cars impossible.
And so Calgary, inexplicably, is one of the few cities where a homeowner can’t make a crafty buck selling an empty driveway for a desperate parker to use.
Four years ago, when the Sun wrote a feature on black market parking, driveways and private stalls near downtown were going for as much as $300 a month.
And even as the city issues its threatening “no parking” reminder via Twitter, Kijiji remains rife with Calgary parking stalls for rent, plus people seeking to hire spots in key areas of the core.
Only the paper shufflers at city hall will be surprised.
It’s not unusual in any city, with official stalls both expensive and in short supply, for a black market to spring up — and in places that aren’t Calgary, there are full websites devoted to the practice.
Here though, there are fines if the municipal man catches you swapping cash for a piece of concrete: Penalties can range from $1,500 to $3,000.
It’s a bylaw enforced under city planning rules, which state parking lots are not allowed outside of commercial, industrial and special districts.
Whether it’s a handshake deal on private parking near a C-Train station, or within a stroll of downtown, you’re breaking Calgary’s ridiculous law.
Yes, they claim it’s about keeping streets clear of displaced cars — but you can’t help but suspect this is another social engineering scheme aimed at forcing commuters onto the overcrowded transit system.
As well, black market means the city loses control of parking prices, as well as the revenue it can raise through the sale of very expensive stalls in the core and at LRT lots.
With a severe shortage of parking in the core and the second-highest parking fees in North America, behind New York City, city hall policy has spawned the very open market they now want to eradicate.
Calgarians may get the last laugh though, with complaints from neighbours required to lay a charge under the draconian driveway crackdown.
Not a peep
So far, despite countless secret handshake deals between property owners and parkers, not a peep of protest has been made to the city.
Perhaps it’s because no sensible person cares if a neighbour makes a few bucks off empty space — or maybe it’s because city hall has totally misread the situation.
Like the famous saying about bedrooms, the state has no place meddling in the driveways of the people — and if city hall thinks otherwise, they know where they can park their ridiculous rule.
Categories: Contributor Columns