Our waists tell a sad parking story

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Let’s pick on parking.

No, that’s not right. Let’s pick on parkers.

Kootenai County Commissioner Bill Brooks has probably cost himself a few county employee votes by proclaiming a $302,000 parking lot investment pretty much a waste of taxpayer dollars. But he’s right.

The “new” parking lot at the Administration Building added 11 parking spaces, from 87 to 98. Brooks’ anxiety arose not so much from the fact that those extra spaces went for about $27,500 apiece, but who’s probably parking in them.

County employees.

Brooks has estimated that 40 percent of the Admin Building parking spots on any given work day are filled by county employees’ vehicles. The Press checked with three people who work in the Admin Building, and all said they thought Brooks’ estimate was on the low side.

What frustrates the county commissioner and should frustrate taxpayers is that just two years ago, the county paid $1.3 million for a share of the huge parking lot just across Northwest Boulevard from the Admin Building. That $1.3 million “bought” 205 parking spaces for county employees and “county campus visitors” during weekday work hours. Cursory inspection of that lot suggests consistent, gross under-utilization. Many times it’s darn near empty.

Lest anybody thinks this editorial is singling out county administration building personnel as lazy, it’s not. The epidemic reaches much further than that.

It’s understandable when in the midst of winter, people want to park as close to grocery store doors as possible. Navigating a full cart through snow and slush is nobody’s idea of a good time.

But even in gorgeous weather, watch seemingly healthy people park as close to a downtown store or restaurant as possible. Some, downtown observers have long noted, will drive around the block multiple times, waiting for just the right spot to open.

What’s maddening and hilarious at the same time is the behavior of people going to health clubs and gyms. They go to strengthen their hearts, among other biological apparatus. So why do so many curse when they have to walk an additional 12 steps after being denied their preferred parking perch?

What Brooks has observed at his place of employment is just one of countless examples of drivers in too much of a hurry and, yes, too blasted lazy to park over yonder and inhale a few extra lungfuls of fresh air. The difference is, county employees’ convenience is coming literally at taxpayer expense.

Leave the parking spots closest to your destination for those who physically need them. That’s not just considerate. It’s also a simple way to invest in your health.

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