Darrell Berkheimer: Nevada City parking draws national attention? | TheUnion.com

Darrell Berkheimer: Nevada City parking draws national attention?

Darrel Berkheimer

I find all sorts of unexpected items each day when I go news-surfing on the internet.

Monday was no exception, when I was surprised to see the attention given to Nevada City by CityLab, a national webmagazine hosted by The Atlantic.

The headline on the article said: “A Small Town Decides Parking Can’t Be a Bargain Anymore.” And featured beneath the headline was a photo of Nevada City’s Broad Street.

I was not familiar with the CityLab publication, but apparently its main gig or niche is publication of news events created by small cities and towns that could be located anywhere.

The story begins by referring to Nevada City’s quaint downtown atmosphere with “a sloping corridor of Gold Rush-era shops and inns,” which help to transform the city into “a Victorian Christmas fantasy.”

Then, before giving any explanation on the city’s decision to raise parking meter rates, it cites the “GoatFundMe” fundraiser to reduce wildfire brush, launched last year by then Vice Mayor Reinette Senum.

The story also quotes City Council members Duane Strawser and Erin Minett as it provides a basic report on why the parking rates are being raised and the plan to use some of the additional money to reduce low-growing wildfire fuel.

The next day, in The Union on Tuesday morning, I found myself praising Mayor Senum for her excellent detailed explanation of Nevada City’s parking situation. It appeared on Page 4 under the headline “The counter-intuitive act of raising parking rates.” In it she notes the three objectives of a well-designed parking rates structure. She explained the most efficient rate structure will: one, provide an open parking space on every block; two, eliminate excessive traffic cruising to find an open space; and three, provide the parking turnover that businesses need to boost patronage.

She also reported she will suggest the City Council consider a tiered-rate structure to provide short-term parking where needed, and various longer terms in other areas. That also makes sense.

And finally, residents, business owners and visitors will have an opportunity to state their opinions at the July 23 council meeting.


On another parking issue, I found myself shaking my head at the convoluted reasoning of three federal judges in a ruling reported earlier this year.

The three judges sit on the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati, Ohio, which also serves Michigan, Kentucky and Tennessee. They ruled that chalk-marking on a parked vehicle tire — to assist in issuing overtime parking tickets — is a violation of the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution.

The Fourth Amendment provides protection against “unreasonable searches and seizures;” and the three judges ruled that putting a chalk mark on a tire is an “unreasonable search.”

The ruling itself is unreasonable. Yet I suppose that I might be able to fathom how only one judge might have concluded that with some twisted reckoning. But three judges agreeing to that ruling is incomprehensible to me.

Aren’t the vehicle and its tires in plain view to the public? How is there a search involved?

And certainly a chalk mark on a tire does no damage to the tire — nor is it even permanent.

That ruling needs to be appealed and overturned by a court with more common sense.


I wonder how many readers have been noticing the stories about the effects millennials are having on our economic landscape.

It becomes obvious the wages they are earning do not stretch as far as the incomes earned by their parents and other former generations.

I suppose nearly everyone has seen the stories about how some millennials are still living with their parents. Others note that some are waiting to marry, and waiting to have children. Those articles explain that they are hoping their savings and/or earnings will grow enough so that they feel more comfortable in taking those steps sometime in the future. In addition, millennials’ purchases of both starter homes and “McMansions” are down for the same money reasons, while some tiny home sales are booming.

Meanwhile, their spending choices are affecting a wide array of products and businesses in which sales have been declining.

I’ve read stories reporting that millennials are not buying beer, cars, motorcycles, diamonds, lottery tickets and life insurance at the rates previous generations did, and that sales by those businesses are considerably down from what was expected. Some of the articles maintain, however, that millennials simply are delaying purchases of items like cars.

Some of the same articles also report that millennials attendance is down at movie theaters, golf courses, baseball and football games, and vacation tourist destinations that cater to younger adults. Credit card services are also noticing a similar decline, while debit card uses are soaring. Millennials are even paying with cash more often.

This frugality by millennials is a manifestation of what some economists have been warning us about for years. Our capitalistic society is based on volume sales growth of both products and activities, which requires a concurrent growth in wages.

But for the past several decades, the growth in wages has failed to maintain an equivalent pace. And now many businesses are feeling the resulting pinch in declining sales.

I gave a more detailed warning of this situation in a column published by The Union in April 2016, titled “When buying power plummets.” It refers to the results that occur from a shrinking middle class.

And now many businesses are experiencing those results.

Darrell Berkheimer, who lives in Grass Valley, is a frequent contributor to The Union. He is the author of six books available through Amazon. His latest, “Essays from The Golden Throne,” also is available at Book Seller in Grass Valley. Contact him at mtmrnut@yahoo.com.

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