Monday, January 5, 2009


We’ve all heard about the NIMBY mentality prevalent in our neighborhoods and towns. Gated communities have sprung up all over this land: press a secret code, and you’re in; if you don’t pass the security gate, you’re out in the cold. Even if you live in a condominium, you have to prove you're legitimate, so your neighbors will know you’re not a stranger intruding on their turf.

So, picking up on debates and discussions on a few neighborhood Front Porch Forums, the Free Press reports that Burlington's restricted/residential parking is increasing its scope to neighborhoods around the city. It started out up on the hill, on the streets with swankiendas near UVM and Champlain College. The proponents may live in an exclusive area of Burlington, but our city is not River Oaks or Short Hills or Scarsdale. Oh! the tyrrany of the "nice neighborhood"! The program - let alone its expansion - approved in neighborhoods by the DPW commission is fraught with bureaucratic problems. It should never have been considered in the first place, or allowed to expand.

Nobody owns our streets - they are public thoroughfares (not privatised streets), for use by all sorts and conditions to travel on or stop along the way.

Former mayor Peter Clavelle refused to sign the petition for restricting parking on his street for that reason. I bet the 60% who said yes to the petition for the scheme on South Union Street couldn’t tell you what it meant in detail - probably just thought it was a "good idea" for "our" neighborhood. But not for the city, no sirree. The proponents who screamed for restricted parking show a selfishness which again pits residents against college students. I asked a resident of South Union Street and a Champlain College student who lives a few doors away from Peter Clavelle how he found out about the resident parking stickers. He told me he "found out" by having received a ticket for parking in front of his apartment, which, in order to get reversed, he had to prove to the police authorities that he was a bona fide resident - not of Burlington - but of South Union Street!

Shame on the city administration and DPW in catering to the chosen fews and not doing what they're supposed to do: work for the common good of all Burlington.

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