Not long after moving to Petaluma, my brother came for a visit. He parked near The Mystic, and we strolled about on a sunny afternoon. He'd put his cell phone timer on for the two hour limit, and we started walking back from the Seed Bank when the timer went off. Half a block away, we saw the meter maid writing him up for the two hour limit! He couldn't have been late, but it was useless to argue. We were there at the right time, but he got the ticket. He's never coming back to downtown Petaluma...
I used to live outside of a rainy major west coast city. Not long after moving to the country side, I got a job making deliveries into the town. One day, I had to wait an extended period of time for a COD payment on a delivery, and when I returned to my truck, I saw the meter maid writing me up for being late. I approached the officer and tried to explain what happened with little hope of success, having moved from San Francisco where getting parking tickets is a fact of life. I was shocked at what happened next...
The meter maid tore up the ticket in front of me and said, "Thank you for shopping and doing business downtown!" It felt like the skies had parted and the sun was shining me and the angels were singing! Then she smiled and was about to walk away when I questioned her about it all, being new to the town. She explained that the city was committed to insuring the economic viability of its downtown core. They had come to realize that the experience of getting a parking ticket, when you met the meter maid at the moment your time expired, was highly irritating to visitors to the downtown area - it was the kind of behavior by many cities that drove people away from their downtown. By ripping up the ticket with a simple welcoming phrase, the whole experience of meeting a city representative changed from an adversarial engagement to a positive "feel good" moment for the town - it was worth the few dollars in lost parking ticket revenue to make an emmisary of the downtown core.
I became at that moment, and still remain, a huge proponent of the friendly measures that town took to keep its downtown economically viable, and the resulting sales tax revenue steam from all those businesses continue to roll into that city allowing them to do projects and have more fun as a community.
I've talked to some elderly neighbors who grew up here in Petaluma, and they said this town used to be like that, but it's changed. Petaluma is just less friendly. Petaluma is just less nice. It looks to me like the town is less rich, is in fact poorer, for the meanness. If you meet the meter maid, you should get off the ticket.