INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Parking spots may not be hard to find in downtown Indianapolis this week, but you better pay the meter.
With so many private firms forced to close up shop for the next two weeks, IndyPark LLC, the private company who enforces all parking meters for the city, is not one of them.
That’s got a few people thinking they should be forced to stay at home too.
On a gray and dreary day Friday, something colorful catches the breeze in the shadow of the Soldiers and Sailors Monument. It’s a bright yellow envelope that says “Violation” in bold letters.
On North Meridian, there’s not just one of them, but three in short succession.
“It’s frustrating, and it’s another expense I don’t need right now for sure,” said a man who got a ticket and agreed to speak with us if we didn’t share his identity. He will be referred to as John throughout.
“Not very happy,” said Bruce Whitaker, another ticket recipient
They are not alone.
We found three more on West Washington, including one car with multiple tickets and another car on South Meridian, even though there are plenty of spaces to be had.
“Evidently parking meter maids are essential business although I didn’t see them in the governor’s order,” said John.
Whitaker, an essential worker, isn’t sure either.
“Twenty-dollar fine,” he said. “I could see that in certain areas and hospitals and nursing homes or emergencies but here in an office building that shut down, no.”
It’s perhaps not a surprise to hear that from those ticketed.
But the idea that an order to shut down so many businesses and require everyone to stay at home unless absolutely necessary doesn’t include parking tickets gets a divided response from friends Marley McClean and Beth Kelleher, who were out walking a dog on Friday.
“As far as essential business workers go, I don’t think that’s essential,” said McClean. “There’s no private company that needs to be out making money right now if someone can’t serve coffee, people can’t serve in restaurants.”
But Kelleher disagrees.
“I think if every rule changes now that we’ve experienced a pandemic, it would make me feel more nervous or less secure. So I like that some things are a constant, even if it is parking tickets,” she said.
We reached out to both the governor and the mayor’s office for an explanation Friday.
A spokeswoman from the governor’s office said it’s an essential government function covered under Section 12 of the order.
The mayor’s office adds that ParkIndy serves as the maintenance function for public transportation infrastructure to make sure things like meters are paid and fire hydrants are cleared.
But the explanation comes too late for many like John.
He said he put money in the wrong meter on his app.
Those bright yellow envelopes added more gloom to a dismal week.
“Doesn’t seem to make much sense,” said John. “Definitely not an expense I need right now with the economy the way it is.”
Indianapolis has a revenue-sharing contract with ParkIndy LLC.
ParkIndy spokeswoman Alicia Thomas said employees, called ambassadors, are important for keeping spaces in front of restaurants clear. She said they are following guidelines elsewhere in the executive order for cleanliness including wiping off meters and pay stations.
Thomas said there are fewer ambassadors working because there’s much less vehicle and foot traffic.
There’s two pieces of good news for drivers — the convenience fee of 20 cents to use your app to park has been waived.
As we’ve already reported, restaurants can request up to two spaces of free short-term parking in front of their business for carry-out customers. Those meters will have a bag over them.