Saturday, January 21, 2006

Was this what they had in mind?

Some observations about the effects (intended and otherwise) of the new parking and smoking regulations in Ballard.

The astonishing increase in population density in Ballard in the past two years has led the city to charge for what used to be free parking and the businesses to patrol their patrons-only lots with increased vigilance. Today I stopped in Ballard to go to the bank and shop at Classic Consignment and Bartells drugstore. All three businesses, within a block of each other, have their own parking lots for patrons. The problem, of course, is that you aren't allowed to shop at one while you're parked at the other. The solution is either to park, shop, drive around the block, park, shop, drive around the block, park and shop or to simply pay for street parking and go shopping. I paid for street parking, of course.

Once I was parked on the street, I wandered down Ballard Avenue. It's a secondary street once populated by scruffy taverns serving hardcore Scandinavian riff-raff. It's now populated by scruffy-chic taverns and pricey boutiques serving stylishly disaffected alt-Yuppies. Ironicly, both the grizzled riff-raff and the disaffected alt-Yuppies tend to smoke. Since smoking is now against the law within 25 feet of a public establishment, Ballard Avenue was filled with uneasy looking smokers sidling around with their smoldering cigarettes.

"Is this 25 feet?" I heard one boozed-up old coot snarl at his lady friend, as he went weaving around in the middle of Ballard Avenue. In front of a trendy restaurant, one of the kitchen staff stood at the edge of the sidewalk, puffing nervously.

Now people who go into bars can drink smoke free, but people who walk down the street must dodge smokers and inhale their smog. Huh?

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