Posts Tagged ‘parking’

Auto-correct: Police getting more serious with parking scofflaws

Friday, December 23rd, 2011

‘Tis the season to try to become better for a new year. Often it starts with little things, like squaring debts. The police in Miyagi Prefecture, however, are taking no chances. They’ve just announced a new strategy to force car owners with outstanding parking tickets to pay up: Cars that have been impounded as “abandoned” will be auctioned off on Yahoo.

Don't even think about it

As in most countries where automobiles are widely used, Japan struggles with the problem of where to put them when they aren’t in motion. In fact, given its perennial space difficulties, it’s probably more of a problem in Japan, which explains why parking violations are, administratively at least, on a par with moving violations. If you’re caught illegally parking it goes down on your driving record, which is not generally the case in most other developed countries. That said, people with parking tickets seem just as likely to blow them off because the police don’t always have the time or resources to pursue scofflaws.

Fines for illegal parking are ¥15,000 or ¥12,000 for a regular passenger car, depending on the place and how long the vehicle stays there. It’s more for large vans and trucks (¥21,000 and ¥15,000) and less for motorcycles (¥9,000 and ¥7,000), though not as much as it is for “stopping” in traffic. If the car is towed, the violator also has to pay for the towing fee (about ¥14,000 in Tokyo) and storage costs (whatever the garage or lot happens to charge). However, according to an article in the Tokyo Shimbun, often when people show up to claim their vehicle, the operators will release it to the person even if he or she doesn’t have the cash to pay. They simply send the person a bill, which few, it seems, end up paying.

Miyagi Prefecture has more than 2,200 cases of unpaid parking fines comprising more than ¥30 million, which isn’t a lot in the scheme of things but apparently many police departments at the local level rely on fines to subsidize certain police functions, especially with regards to traffic safety. All traffic fines nationwide are collected by the Bank of Japan, and twice a year these funds are divided up according to population and number of traffic accidents and sent back to the prefectural police departments.

Continue reading about auctioning impounded cars →

Who pays for parking?

Monday, September 14th, 2009

Like someone who has quit smoking, I find that ever since I gave up my car I have problems with other people who are still hooked on theirs. A certain intolerance sets in that I recognize to be irrational at times, but this frame of mind does give rise to realizations that I might not have reached otherwise.

Park and save?

Park and save?

My current obsession is parking, specifically validated parking for shoppers, which is such a fixture of consumer life that most people, whether they drive or not, take it for granted. But who actually pays for parking?

Parking lots are not cost-free, especially in big cities where land is a premium. Retailers have to pay rent on the land, or, if they own it, property taxes. They have to pay the concession that operates the parking lot. They have to pay for security and upkeep. All those expenses go into the prices of the goods they sell, which means their patrons pay for these expenses. But it’s only a benefit for those who drive to the store and who can park for free if they buy the store’s wares. People who walk or ride a bicycle or take public transportation don’t get anything, but they’re paying for the parking lot just the same. In effect, non-drivers are subsidizing drivers’ shopping activities.

This is the same basic complaint that non-homeowners have in countries where mortgage interest is tax deductible. People who buy houses or condos can deduct the interest of their housing loans on their income tax returns. Supposedly, this practice spurs housing sales, which are said to benefit the economy as a whole, but in some countries — France, for instance — it is considered unfair to non-homeowners, since in essence it amounts to welfare for homeowners. Non-homeowners subsidize their housing purchases.

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