Computer meter madness

I don't know who owns the Egyptian Theater on Capitol Hill, but I bet it's not Bill Gates or Paul Allen.

When we attend the Egyptian, we usually park on a side street. Last Saturday we were going to the 4:15 p.m. showing of "Capote" and meeting friends at the theater at 3:45. There was no parking close by. On all nearby side streets they've installed computerized parking meters that you must feed when parking from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Saturday. You're allowed to pay for up to two hours of parking, no more.

If we fed the meter at 3:40, it would expire at 5:40, and for 20 minutes we'd be eligible for a $40 ticket. To be safe, we sat on the curb until 4 o'clock, then fed the meter $3 for two hours, and were late meeting our friends.

The Egyptian also shows the film at 1:15 p.m daily. If you need to park on the meter then, you pay for two hours and go to your movie. Keep in mind you have two hours to walk both ways to the meter and to see your movie - possibly not enough time. You'll have to leave the theater before the film ends to avoid the chance of getting a ticket. When you get to your meter, you'll have to move your car to a different block. (The computerized meter won't let you feed it again; possibly a different credit card could get around that problem.) Feed the second meter and return to the theater, in time to see the ending credits. No problem: ask someone in the theater to describe the movie's ending for you.

That makes sense if you have an IQ of 4, like those who installed the meters. The Egyptian is probably older than I am, and I'm on Social Security. People like that theater; it's comfortable, and unlike the new theater complexes, the screen isn't so close that the actors walk across your nose. Theaters like the Egyptian struggle to survive, and I don't appreciate city boneheads hurting their business.

Reports I've read say revenue from parking meters is just enough to pay the upkeep of the meters. The purpose of a meter is to limit a car's time in one place. That didn't work because people fed the meters. The computerized meters won't let you re-feed them, so after two hours you burn gas looking for another spot. Hell, if I have to do that, I'll look for a spot at the mall where I can see a movie without dopey parking harassment.

A mountain out of a molehill? Sure, until it's your $6 matinee that's converted into a $49 matinee (movie + meter + ticket.) I'm sorry, Egyptian. You need some clout.

Next matinee, I'll come on my bicycle.

Shelley Simon is a Queen Anne resident.[[In-content Ad]]