Try it — you'll like it

A wise person once said, "If you try to please everybody, nobody will like it." The Medford City Council, in its wisdom, has not tried to please everyone with its latest tweaking of downtown parking rules, but it has endeavored to spread the pain around.

The council had to take some action, because the city's parking fund, which is supposed to break even, is $60,000 in the red.

Council members would prefer to make up the shortfall by convincing more motorists to use the city's two parking structures. But drivers are a finicky lot, and will resist doing what may be in everyone's best interest until pushed.

The city's new plan does that pushing as gently as possible. Parking fines are going up — from $15 to $25 — but violators will have a month to pay, rather than the current 10 days.

In addition, violators will be given the option of receiving a one-month voucher for the parking garages in exchange for their fine. And, to add another incentive, parking on the top level of the structures, in the open air, will be just $10 a month. If you want to shelter your wheels from the elements, it will set you back $25 a month.

For those who work downtown or are enrolled in Rogue Community College, the $10 fee for a month of parking on the top level of the parking structures strikes us as a bargain. Parking outside the structures is open to the elements as well, with the added risk of a ticket if you're late getting back to your car. It would take 21/2 months at that rate to equal a single overtime ticket.

Even $25 a month is a deal compared with larger metropolitan areas, where monthly parking is far more costly.

Those who don't work downtown and don't need monthly parking can park for three hours in either of the two structures. That ought to be plenty of time for a shopping excursion. For shorter stops, one-hour free parking remains available in the library lot and 30-minute on-street spaces are available at the post office.

The rest of downtown continues to be a mix of one-hour, two-hour and all-day spaces, depending on the location. Downtown merchants will be allowed to issue vouchers to customers who receive a ticket while shopping, although that is likely to be temporary.

City officials say they have received complaints from people who feel uncomfortable using the garages after dark, and they plan to improve lighting there. That strikes us as a perceptual rather than an actual problem.

Parking is a perennial issue in any urban downtown, and Medford is no exception. Parking enforcement is a necessary evil, to make sure no one takes advantage of the system at the expense of other drivers. That costs money, and it is appropriate that it pay for itself.

If drivers continue to avoid the parking garages and the parking fund continues to run a deficit, the result could be the end of free parking downtown. No one wants that to happen.

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