A Public, Metered- an in depth look at the BPA

-by Jason Hedrington

Ever since their invention in 1932 and the beginning of their mass production in 1935, parking meters have been touted as our cities’ best answer to parking congestion. From the moment they were first installed to allegedly help us, meters immediately began to meet their demise at the hands of early vigilante groups who smashed them in protest. One of America’s most iconic movie characters, “Cool Hand” Luke, was sent to prison camp to work hard labor for the crime of destroying parking meters.

“what we have here is a failure to communicate”

These days we like to consider ourselves a civil society. Conversations at bars about bashing meters with baseball bats or filling their coin slots with super glue often end there–as frustrated drunk talk that only leads to quarter-filling compliance the very next day. We obey. But the fact remains: our cities say the meters are for our benefit, yet parking tickets continue to often top any other issue (including police, taxes and vandals) as the one thing that causes the greatest unifying mass angst.

The Bethlehem Parking Authority is just as commonly referred to as “The Parking Nazis” as they are by their acronym, the dreaded BPA. That’s not a nickname of endearment. It begs a poignant question: is there anyone in our city–any single citizen not employed by the BPA or city government–who genuinely LIKES or even casually APPROVES of the BPA? And if meters are almost universally hated by Bethlehemites, why do we continue to allow them to deface our historic streets and cause us so much anger? Is any good they may provide worth the feelings and energy of hate they spread throughout the populace? And, really, why are we citizens being charged and often fined to park on the streets that our taxes already paid for?

Unfortunately at this point, we are not going to totally eliminate the meters, we have to be realistic. Nor should we advocate vandalization. We CAN however, prevent the BPA from further expansion on our streets and into our pockets, because right now we stand at the precipice of yet another major hike in meter rates. Not to mention the installation of insidious new digital machines rigged with obnoxious blinking lights, credit card readers that connect to the internet and sensors that eliminate leftover time when vehicles pull away. The time to stand up and stop the BPA from these changes is NOW, for we find ourselves coming to the end of the city’s “test phase” of the new meters at which point they may decide to install them city-wide with the new rates.

How do we stop this expansion? We have a plan. And it’s a good plan that offers a sensible compromise that will benefit both parties–the frustrated public citizens and the partnership that is the BPA and the City of Bethlehem….. to be continued…

-How does this all make you feel?? We have been tirelessly investigating this situation and have so many facts, that we can’t keep our day jobs and sort them out into a legible piece of writing as of yet. But fear not, fellow Lehigh Valleyians! We got you! Post your comments below so we can get more feedback– how have the BPA’s new meters effected your life? How has the increase on the southside effected you and your customers? Do you work there? Live there? Tell us everything! Stay tuned for this weekly feature as we get all of this out on the table! -WINK

Click HERE for another article about the meters and the doubling of the hourly meter rate

7 Responses to A Public, Metered- an in depth look at the BPA

  1. Jo-Ann says:

    I work in Bethlehem. The parking is a problem. I don’t anywhere to park my car and if I pay for the meters I have to go out and move my car between my shift. I inquired about getting a permit so I can park on a street with out meters but the closes one they could offer me was more than 10 blocks away! The streets near where I work are 2 hours until MIDNIGHT!! That’s really ridiculous!!

  2. Danielle Notaro says:

    Jason, about a year ago or so I spoke to a member of City Council about the fact that the Historic Society took over the gigantic parking lot on the North Side (where musicfest houses the polka tent) You now have to get a permit to park down there-half the time the parking lot is nearly empty! People parked down there all the time. I got a letter in the mail an I don’t t remember right now what it said. But the situation remains the same there with permits. I also was pissed that you could no longer swim in the monocacy there. A place people swam probably for centuries. That’s another issue. Then we got saddled with the angled parking and the more expensive parking meters. I used to like being able to pull in to those free spots. I know the city is hurting for money and I am eager to hear your proposals. Thanks, Danielle Notaro

  3. The BPA is not even a part of the City of Bethlehem. No, it is a PRIVATE FOR-PROFIT CORPORATION that was created under City Ordinance 2169.

    http://www.manta.com/c/mmfqjfp/parking-authority

    As such, they have no interest in serving the community. They have no interest in the people that call Bethlehem their home. They have no interest in the growth of local business. The only thing they are concerned with is increasing their profits and lining the pockets of their board members.

  4. Jeff Gerhard says:

    I now live in Easton, grew up in rural, central NJ. I have had to deal with parking meters everytime I went into a city for whatever reason. And everytime I have had to park and pay a meter, it made me wonder….WHY? why are citizens asked to pay a fee to park on a public street? Why is city governement allowed to engage in such acts as fining people a thousand times the cost of the 25 cent fee to park, when their meter is expired. Maybe the fee should be another Maximum 25 cents? makes perfect sence to me, but I guess GREED has definatly invaded our country on all levels of corporate structure and now local governement. Greed is what is ruining this country, and sorry to tell you all, IT MUST STOP! and why not now, as a good turning point in our young 236 year old country? Yes, i know what your all saying, this is just about parking meters. but it is more than that. The Occupy movement to me has starting people thinking about all kinds of things, one of them is justice and the moral sence of right and wrong. For fr too long has some giant parking authority in ANY city been this giant goliath against its own people! I say….No more! parking meters should just be removed. the city can still write parking tickets for illegal parking and fire hydrants and curb cuts and double parking, etc… the fact that they are installing credit card readers is just rediculous. people don’t carry change anymore, because almost no one uses cash anymore. I don hope one day, very soon, we have no more need for money! non what so ever! Money corrupts, and GREED is at the fore front of ruining this country!

  5. Jason says:

    Danielle, great to hear from you. Thanks for the info…I was not aware they had turned that zone into permit parking! That really is outrageous. The swimming issue is a whole other thing…not to get off topic but on some level these are systems of CONTROL. But I’ll leave that for another time :) The proposals are coming and we have interviews and sit-downs coming with councilman Rechiuti and BPA head Hartley.

  6. Jason says:

    Matthew–yeah, I just commented on the other story’s comments field about this–that is one thing we are definitely uncovering–the weird quasi private-yet-city-yet-state relationship of the BPA. I would say that out of the three issues so far, the biggest response has been from people who were downright shocked to find out the CITY actually gets NO MONEY from the BPA.

  7. Jason says:

    Jeff and Jo-Ann…right on. Our next issue is going to dive into specific public complaints/grievances. I’ll add your thoughts.

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