They’ve got to be kidding — but they’re not.
Finding a parking spot in downtown Salem with money still in the meter is like finding money on the sidewalk, or reaching into a jacket pocket and finding a $10 bill you didn’t know was there. It’s not going to change your life or make a difference in the world, but it does make you smile.
Well, wipe those smiles off your faces.
Or rather, to be more precise, the city of Salem is determined to wipe those smiles off.
Workers spent last week drilling holes in the street to install sensors under many of the “smart” parking meters, so that when someone drives off without using up all the time he’s paid for, the meter will automatically turn back the clock.
New drivers pulling into a parking space will never find more than a five-minute grace period. The city, meanwhile, can get paid twice, or even three times over, for the same time period in the same parking spot.
If this seems like a two-bit, penny-ante tactic to extract the last possible dime from frazzled drivers or downtrodden taxpayers, well ... it is.
What’s next? A 10-cent toll to walk on the Willows pier? A nickel to sit on a park bench?
That’s right, put out the welcome mat, Salem — but it will cost you a penny to step on it.