Thar they blow?

Ask John Neely Bryan: Can I Park For Free in Downtown Dallas?

If you know what you're doing, maybe.

John Neely Bryan, Our Founder
John Neely Bryan, Our Founder
Photography by Matthew Shelley

Question: What’s the rule on parking your car on a public street downtown that has no such sign declaring it a no-parking zone or a commercial loading zone? I found a tiny block sandwiched between a pair of parking garages that has room for three cars along a curb and no such sign. I’m one of those stubborn downtown workers who refuses to shell out a monthly fee to have my own parking space, so finding areas like this is like finding a treasure. I’ve been parking there all week, and today a security guard for one of the two garages came out and told me I couldn’t park there. I asked him to show me a sign forbidding it, and he said, “You just can’t park here, man.” He then threatened to call DPD, which I welcomed before I realized I had no time to deal with it. So who’s right here? He mentioned that it would be difficult for large trucks to enter a loading bay on the opposite side of the curb, an argument I would certainly cede to if the city were to place a sign forbidding me from leaving my car on this public street. — Matt G.

Cheapskate downtown tradesmen, like yourself, refer to a discovery such as this as an “alabaster cetacean.” Or, rather, they would if they possessed my own unparalleled skill at christening. I’ve been told my gift for metaphor is unrivaled in the western world.

You’ve requested that I investigate the pedigree of your find so as to verify the purity of your claim to freely depositing an automobile in this locale without fear of harassment by overly zealous rental coppers or punitive measures on the part of the municipal government. To that end, this very morning I traveled to the spot, which I agree is a remarkably short distance from the virtual salt mines in which you daily labor. It is easily understood why one would covet this opportunity.

As you have noted, there exist no signs to indicate a prohibition against parking along the short block. Nor are any of the curbs painted so as to do likewise, not even a reservation for the needs of emergency vehicles that might access the water-hose outlets which jut out of the side of one of the buildings. There is room for at least a few cars to sit far enough from the intersections to satisfy the requirements of state motor vehicle regulations as well.

I must additionally remark upon the treatment I received during my brief reconnaissance. A gentleman accoutered in all the trappings of faux officialdom eyeballed me from the moment I entered upon his fiefdom between the prominent downtown building he’s charged with protecting and the parking garage on the other side of the street. Though, to be fair, not all folks are equipped to behave appropriately when encountering the magnificence of a non-corporeal being (such as I am) moving about.

His menacing attitude and the design of the small downtown cove — including the unusually lovely brickwork on this stretch of street, which is consistent with the appearance of the corporate tower above — seem to intentionally project the false notion that this is a private driveway for a corporate headquarters instead of a public street.

So impressively is this accomplished that even I for a moment doubted my own instincts upon the matter. However, a quick bit of reading of city of Dallas codes confirmed this thoroughfare is situated fully within the public right-of-way. Therefore the fellow who spends most of his day peering out from a sad little booth has no jurisdiction whatsoever to order you to scram.

Indeed, according to the city’s own regulations, this peculiar block is intended to possess parking meters requiring payment in exchange for vehicle placement during normal business hours. I can only surmise that — given the relative youth of the nearby skyscraper — the city neglected to replace the meters once the new construction was completed. You should therefore be relieved of any related pecuniary obligation.

Go forth in confidence that the city shall have no recourse to fine you, nor can the huffing and puffing security professional legally have your horseless carriage towed away. Can I guarantee that your tires won’t be slashed by a secretive cabal that owns and operates the aforementioned building and will determine that you must be punished for your insolence? No. And could some even claim that you’re maybe being a bit of a jerk by knowingly placing your car in a position that (indeed) limits the ability of trucks to access the building’s loading bay? Well, certainly, but my reading of the Wealth of Nations indicates that in a capitalist system we each have a veritable moral obligation to be selfish bastards, to take every inch of what government loopholes will give us, as Mitt Romney epitomized and articulated so elegantly during the last presidential campaign.

I digress. My point is you’re in the clear, come what may. On another note, seeing as I’ve taken great pains not to publicly disclose (and therefore ruin) the specifics of your discovery, I feel a small gratuity is in order. I’ll accept $30 on a recurring basis, left by the first of each month at the D Magazine World Headquarters reception desk in a plain white envelope with my name on it. In exchange, your secret is secure. You’re not going to find a better parking deal than that anywhere.

Taking a bite from the invisible hand,

 

John-Neely-Bryan-signature
John Neely Bryan is the founder of the city of Dallas and an expert on all matters. Email him for advice, to have a dispute adjudicated, or to seek his wisdom on any of a myriad of topics, at [email protected].

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