It finally happened. After years of parking on the streets in downtown Billings, I finally got a parking ticket. I can't even remember the last time I got one. Maybe ten years ago? I've been tempting fate for too long, and I finally got caught.

City parking meter in Billings Montana
Nicole Riley TSM
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Everybody loves to complain about downtown parking.

A common complaint about downtown is the lack of parking. I usually correct people with a cynical comment like, "you mean there's no parking immediately in front of the place you're trying to go?". Because there generally is a lot of parking downtown, when you include the six parking garages. They're free after 6 pm and on the weekends. Plus, there are eight Diamond Parking lots scattered around the Billings downtown area and many businesses have their own smallish parking lots.

Photo by Michael Foth, Townsquare Media
Photo by Michael Foth, Townsquare Media
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Two-hour limits and metered parking.

I lost my company-provided parking garage card over a year ago, so I normally park in our parking lot at the DoubleTree hotel. During the first six months of the pandemic, parking was an absolute breeze because the hotel was empty. No conventions or conferences and very few business travelers meant finding a spot in our tiny lot was a snap. Lately, our parking lot has frequently been full, so I've been parking on the two-hour limit spots on Montana Avenue. There are no meters on this section of the street.

Photo by Michael Foth, Townsquare Media
Photo by Michael Foth, Townsquare Media
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My parking ticket luck finally ran out.

Frankly, I'm kind of surprised I haven't gotten a parking ticket sooner. Most of the time I move my car at lunchtime, usually into a parking spot in the lot (it typically empties out after check-out time). Or, I'll move my car to a different spot on the street. But sometimes my car would sit in the same spot on Montana Ave all day. I got a warning about a month. The ticket came next.

Photo by Michael Foth, Townsquare Media
Photo by Michael Foth, Townsquare Media
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At first, I was angry. Then... not so much.

Sure, getting a parking ticket sucks. Nobody likes seeing the yellow envelope stuck under their windshield. My coworker was parked right next to me, and she got one too. But I can't really be that mad about it. The rules are clearly posted. I took a chance and I lost. The fine is only $10 (but can climb to $40 for repeat offenders).

What really took the edge off from getting a ticket was the polite explanation on the back of the ticket envelope. In case you can't read it (above) it starts like this,

Hello. There are some very good reasons why we wrote this parking ticket. We would like to let you know what some of them are. 

It then goes on to explain how vehicle turnover is necessary so people don't hog parking spaces in front of businesses all day. Ahem, people like... me. Ouch. Point taken, City of Billings. Your $10 is in the mail.

Billings Brewery Walking Trail