Park your stories here

Downtown San Francisco merchants, fed up that no one in authority in town listened to their concerns about how lack of parking was hurting their business, came up with an idea to get some publicity. They pooled their resources and held a contest for the most outrageous parking ticket story. The prize? The consortium would pay the winner’s parking ticket.

In Chapel Hill, the town genuinely does seem to be trying to create more parking. The completion of 140 West Franklin, right now projected to be at the end of 2012, will add two stories of parking spaces at market rates. Presumably, the parking deck will open, even if the condos don’t sell.

And the town has found little pockets of empty space for parking. Signs telling drivers where the spaces are would help, but the town’s sign ordinance prohibits using any recognizable logos to advertise – oh, wait, that only applies to private businesses, not revenue generators for the town.

In the interim, we welcome your outrageous parking stories. Share them here.

See some of San Francisco parkers’ stories, presented by Chapel Hill native Jonathan Bloom, at:
– Nancy Oates

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  1. Linda Convissor

     /  August 17, 2011

    Check out for pictures of the new parking signs and also a map of parking locations. There are two good reasons to come downtown tomorrow – check out the new women’s clothing store, Bevello’s, and the free showing of ET at dusk (around 8:45 p.m.) on the Wallace Plaza.

  2. Mark Marcoplos

     /  August 17, 2011

    My only tale of parking searches is the surreal evening drive around the many empty lots that are privately owned and block the public from parking. This makes no sense.

    Carrboro is much easier to access.

  3. Terri Buckner

     /  August 17, 2011

    Linda C–it would be very helpful if the downtown commission or the town could hire someone to create a Google map of the various parking lots. I know someone said there are now 2,000 spaces available now but finding those spaces if you aren’t from here isn’t that easy, even with the signs.

  4. John Kramer

     /  August 17, 2011

    If I owned a parking lot in Chapel Hill I would either sell space in it or not- after all I own it and I live in the USA where it is legal to own property. Why is that surreal, Mr Marcopolos??

  5. Caroline Spencer

     /  August 18, 2011

    If you live in town, you know where the parking spots are. If you live outside town, you don’t and you’re likely to get a ticket or towed. I live downtown and see stranded visitors a dozen or more times a month. It’s gotten to where I can tell they’ve been towed just by looking at their confused expressions. Best parking story? Seeing George’s Towing go up my street (Mallette) NOT towing a car. What a nice change of pace…

  6. Scott Maitland

     /  August 18, 2011

    Mr. Kramer – nobody argues the point the property rights allow the owner to do what he or she wants with his or her property. Mr. Marcopolos’ point is that a lot of parking space goes completely underutilized and that hampers the economic and social vibrancy of our downtown. Having worked on this issue for many years, I found that owners were told by their out of state insurance companies – erroneously due to North Carolina’s tort law – that they would be liable for incidents that occurred on their properties so they stopped letting people have free access. A consortium of Private Individuals and the town have been working to change that around. The lot that just opened across from Carolina Brewery is a prime example of a success. Hopefully the churches – who use parking on the street on Sundays – will be open to that idea next.
    In addition, there is more parking in downtown Chapel Hill now than there was before Lot 5 was taken off-line. I am not saying that we are where we should be with regards to parking but the signage and the availability is much better.
    Finally, the parking issue at Panera and across the street is tricky. Most complaints haven’t been ” I didn’t understand I would be towed ” but more “George the tower was difficult and scary to deal with.” Hopefully this will change too due to friendly persuasion and a change in town ordnance.

  7. Patrick M

     /  August 21, 2011

    Part of the problem is that Chapel Hill commits itself to a policy that deliberately makes parking harder to find after 6:00 PM or 8:00 PM at the four West Franklin lots by making parking free in a highly attractive dining district. Donald Shoup’s excellent book “The High Cost of Free Parking” details how under-pricing parking leads to extensive amounts of motorists cruising looking for spaces in vain because the free, unlimited use of a high-value space for many hours discourages turnover. Shoup instead recommends setting the price for parking on a city block to the price that leaves the parking spaces 85% occupied (and 15% free) at all times, varying by hour if necessary. Parking in Chapel Hill actually needs to be MORE like San Francisco, because the city has recently undertaken one of the most ambitious applications of Shoupian parking principles. The program is called SFPark. Check it out here in a brief 2 minute 50 second video:

  8. Mark Marcoplos

     /  August 21, 2011


    Glad you are working on this. Sounds like good progress is being made.