Vail Daily letter: Vail vs. loopers

I am a looper … not the handsome hero Joseph Gordon-Levitt from the movie of the same name but rather the more insidious car-parking type.

What is looping, you ask? Well, it’s the act of parking at one garage for a short time to ski and then, before the two-hour free parking limit expires, moving one’s car to the other garage to finish out the ski day and avoid the hefty parking costs.

The town of Vail has decided that they need to spend taxpayer money on a license plate reading system in all public parking garages. Those who leave one garage cannot enter again for 30 minutes or get a hefty tax.

This is a good thing, right? More parking for the tourists and Front Range crowds and less maniacs like me using up parking.

The real problem is more institutional and under-addressed. Many employees who work in Vail make slightly above or at minimum wage and can barely afford to live and eat here. If they happen to live somewhere outside the bus route, they are forced to drive to work and do the parking lot shuffle all day long. Parking passes are not provided to these employees. A parking fine will do even more damage ­— not to mention if they can’t drive to work they may not have a job to begin with.

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Vail’s Town Council has decided to swat a mosquito with a rocket launcher and make a quick buck from those who can’t afford it. This won’t affect the rich because they don’t do this crazy parking lot shuffle. The elected leadership of Vail fell for the slick sales brochures and PowerPoint slides of a license plate software package with its colorful revenue charts and decided that a few thousand dollars in fines was more important than supporting the already strapped workforce.

The other major issue is privacy. Who safeguards the database? Who has access? Are they public or private records? Will our data be shared with a private database contractors who will resell the data? The answer is we don’t know. These agreements are usually drawn in secrecy with tight non-disclosures and they usually involve some kickbacks in the form of profit sharing to the camera company in order to subsidize the overpriced Nikon in a box. Where does the tax money go? Perhaps the general coffers for the new clubhouse at the golf course or the new town of Vail offices they can’t afford … yet.

Not to mention, now we can apprehend car thieves and hardened criminals in the garages thanks to this technology. Shootouts in the garage. Exciting!

As a looper, we do have recourse. We can choose to not remove the snow from our license plates in the morning or one could also spray a special “protective” sealant on our plates to keep them shiny for the cameras. Or worse, we spend our hard earned money at the Beav’, where parking is plentiful and the locals are appreciated.

Doug Micheals

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