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Parking fee put in reverse; MVD opens, closes and reopens

THEY WANT $25 TO LET ME PARK IN FRONT OF MY HOUSE? Several readers have voiced that question after the city revamped its residential parking permit process.

As my colleague Jessica Dyer reported Saturday, the city backed off the charges Friday in a news release, saying the fees apply only if you request the permits online. Around 100 streets in 11 neighborhoods – think high-traffic areas such as Downtown and the university and fairgrounds areas – have permitted parking, but it’s always been free.

And it still is – if you schlepp Downtown for a permit.

Peter Swift and Elen Feinberg shared that in the Spruce Park neighborhood, “on-street parking is not a luxury for us. Given the small driveways and one-car garages typical of the neighborhood, on-street parking is essential for many residents, visitors and for tradespeople who rely on residents to provide a temporary pass while they are working. … Why was the neighborhood not consulted first before this fee was imposed?”

Caryn Wagner writes, “After putting in a complaint to 311 which was supposed to reach our councilor, Isaac Benton, and Mayor Keller, I received a prompt call from a woman at the parking division who said that the money is needed for enhanced patrolling and ticketing. The one patrol person has done an adequate job over many years, and I told her so. Then she changed her story saying that the $25/vehicle fee was to pay for street repair, parking structures and putting up street signs. … Then with a superior tone she said our neighborhood could always decide that we no longer would require permits, leaving us to be overrun with student vehicles.”

And Allen M. Parkman, acting president of the Spruce Park Neighborhood Association, emails, “Issuing the permits requires very little effort on the part of the city and yet it provides substantial benefits to the residents of these special areas, while making those neighborhoods safer.”

Friday, the city said online transactions will take “a small fee to support the online service. Those who prefer to come down to the Parking Division and pick up their permit may still do so and will not be charged.”

Online, the fees are: residential permits, $25/year; visitor permits, $25/year; landlord permits, $30/year; caregiver permits, $5/6 month; contractor permits, $5/day; moving van permits, $5/day. And “each resident in an on-street permit parking district is able to receive one resident and two visitor passes or two resident and one visitor pass.”

FYI, the city Parking Division is an enterprise fund, meaning it gets no tax dollars and has to pay its own way.

MVD OPEN IN FARMINGTON, GALLUP AND LAS CRUCES: A news release from the state Taxation and Revenue Department says offices in these cities opened July 6. As with the other MVD offices, you can make an appointment by going to mvdonline.com or calling 888-683-4636.

You must have an appointment to enter an MVD office, though some are offering special senior hours for customers 79 and older.

If you can’t get an appointment – there is a backlog as offices have been closed since mid-March – remember the governor’s order waiving MVD fees and penalties for registrations and licenses that expired during the shutdown remains in effect and State Police have been directed not to issue citations for such expired documents.

EAGLE VISTA MVD REOPENS TODAY: The office on Eagle Ranch on Albuquerque’s West Side was closed Thursday after an employee tested positive for COVID-19.

A Tax and Rev news release says, “The affected employee wore personal protective equipment and practiced social distancing at all times while at MVD, and (plastic) barriers are in place between employees and customers. However, out of an abundance of caution, MVD employees are reaching out to all customers who have provided email addresses or phone numbers and who were served at the office between July 6 and July 9.”

The office was scheduled to be cleaned while closed and will be staffed with employees from other offices.

DELAYS ON LA BAJADA TODAY: The New Mexico Department of Transportation says in a news release that a paving project on Interstate 25 means “drivers heading northbound may experience significant delays depending on traffic volume Monday, July 13, (today) from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. due to lane closures.”

Backups were apparently brutal Friday. Today, “a single lane will be open to allow traffic to pass through the project from the Cochiti Exit to the Waldo Exit.”

NMDOT says drivers should expect delays and plan accordingly.

Editorial page editor D’Val Westphal tackles commuter issues for the Albuquerque area on Mondays. Reach her at 823-3858; dwestphal@abqjournal.com; or 7777 Jefferson NE, Albuquerque, NM 87109.

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