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State Legislation Could Make Parking Meters Legal in North Dakota Again

A law making its way through the North Dakota Legislative Assembly would challenge a prevailing assumption in the state that free parking is a human right.
March 1, 2017, 1pm PST | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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All that free parking looks very expensive.
David Harmantas

"Finding a place to park in North Dakota usually isn’t a big problem. With fewer than 10 residents per square mile, the state is famous for its emptiness," writes James Hagerty. But wait, there's a twist: "Yet lawmakers here are thinking about bringing back parking meters—which have been banned from the streets for 68 years and are still widely regarded with hostility."

In evidence of the state's resistance to parking meters, Hagerty quotes Mike Jacobs, a "retired newspaper editor who lives in North Dakota. "Free parking 'is pretty much regarded as a basic human right,'" explains Jacobs.

And yet…the North Dakota State Senate recently approved a bill that would allow parking meters to return to the streets of North Dakota, and the state's House of Representatives is expected to take up the matter this week. The bill also has local support, according to Hagerty: "The mayors of Fargo and several of the state’s other towns support ending the ban. They believe it would help free up spaces now hogged by downtown workers so that parking would be easier for people going to shops and restaurants." Local leaders also cite local control as a motivating factor behind their support for the bill.

The article includes a history of the state's parking meter ban, and also finds a recent example of a local jurisdiction that approved a similar ban—the city of Biddeford, in Maine.

[The Wall Street Journal article might be behind a paywall for some readers.]

Published on Wednesday, March 1, 2017 in The Wall Street Journal
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