Around 2012, a friend of mine left his piece of junk 1997 Ford Explorer on the street near our rental house.  Three months later and it was still there.   One day, biking home from class, I noticed that the City of Bozeman Montana had placed a notice on his old beast.  It read something like this:

“The streets will be undergoing routine maintenance from Tuesday to Friday, please park elsewhere for the duration of this work.”

So I called my friend, who drove to Bozeman immediately and relocated his vehicle.  From this experience I figured, “cool, you can leave your car on the street for an extended period of time here and nobody will likely mess with it.”

Flash forward to around June, 2015.  Having graduated with a Masters in Public Administration from Montana State university the time came for me to move out to the countryside.  The final day of my lease was coming up, and my run down Subaru that I had intended to sell still took up space in the driveway at my rented house.  Knowing full-well that my lease was up, I pushed my old Subaru with two flat tires and parked it legally on the side of our street.  A couple weeks have passed.  Numerous people call me interested in my ad for the car but none have come up with the money just yet.

Then I receive a call from our old landlord that the Subaru is being impounded.  Apparently, the City of Bozeman municipal code states that no vehicle can remain parked in the same spot for more than 48 hours with violators subject to impounding.  At the time, I was away for work and unable to make the trip down so I did the next best thing — call the City of Bozeman, attempt to negotiate an extension and finally sell the old Subaru.

Meet the City of Bozeman’s Parking enforcement branch — a state run bureaucracy.  Phone calls and emails to them are never answered. So I travel downtown and speak with a lady in person.

“There’s nothing I can do,” she replies — seemingly not enthused.  All the while, visions of my car being crushed and billions being spent nation wide on inconsistent kangaroo court parking agencies who pirate peoples vehicles at will.  So now i’m looking at a $600 impound bill and no response to my telephone calls.

How much better could this situation be if the City of Bozeman Parking Enforcement was privately-owned?  At least they would have to answer the phone calls.

Parking enforcement is simply not even close to a service required by  “the judiciary” of a given state.  I personally  favor a state-run court system and so certain areas of authority are legitimate.  Further, private authorities with the ability to deprive individuals of freedom are potentially bad, but parking enforcement doesn’t really fit in that category. It is a service that should it be delivered by a private entity.

Look no further than a typical DMV branch to see why government has no place providing services, even services that result from their regulations.  Municipal governments should be held to the same standard.

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