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Thursday, May 22, 2008

Missing parking meters offer solution to numerous urban woes

In 2007, 500 downtown Atlanta parking meters were stolen. They were sawed at their base and carted off, presumably by people eager to get their hands on the approximately $35 in quarters, dimes and nickels inside.

This morning, Atlanta police located several of the missing meters during a round-up of homeless people camping out in Downtown's railroad gulch.

From the AJC:

Among the stolen items recovered during the 5:30 a.m. operation were an electric wheelchair and 20 or more parking meters, poles and all.

Wardell said homeless people steal the meters from parking places, then put them on the railroad tracks for trains to run over and break open so they can take the coins.

To reduce the likelihood of a train derailment, and to avoid paying roughly $250,000 annually just to replace stolen parking meters, the city should consider giving Atlanta's homeless people keys to open the meters.

Think about it.

The homeless can get the change the city doesn't promptly collect. The city can keeps its expensive meters intact. Freight trains will encounter fewer dangerous obstacles. And the panhandling which annoys the crap out of people who visit and work Downtown would likely drop.

Sugg, if you steal this idea for your urban think tank, I'm coming after you.

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