No parking

We begin this week with an apology:

In last week’s column about who made Santa’s Naughty and Nice List for 2018, the Ogden City Council was praised for — finally — extending two honorary street designations that had been kept on the west side of town. The city’s 24th and 30th streets, portions of which had been designated “Martin Luther King Jr. Street” and “Cesar Chavez Street” previously, received that name all the way to Harrison Boulevard in 2018.

However, in reporting this decision I also got one thing very wrong when I lamented: “Here’s hoping by next Christmas the honorary street designations will extend above Harrison.”

But, as it turns out, those sections of the two roads are already spoken for.

City Councilwoman Marcia L. White wrote in to the Standard-Examiner and set the record straight, explaining that above Harrison those two streets already have honorary designations after local high schools — “Jayhawk Way” on 24th Street, and “Tiger Way” on 30th Street.

Color me embarrassed. I hadn’t realized there were already honorary designations above Harrison. I apologize to White and the rest of the city council for implying there may have been some other reason for not being willing to extend the designation all the way to the mountains.

And I completely understand if the council is just angry enough to name a street after me — one in a really bad neighborhood, even.

You know, something like “Mark Saal Dead End Street.”

* * *

And as long as we’re on the subject of mistakes being made, let’s talk about the second-biggest scandal in the history of Snowbasin Resort.

The biggest scandal, of course, being Mitt Romney’s potty-mouthed outburst just before the start of the men’s downhill during the 2002 Winter Olympics. After traffic snarled outside the venue at Snowbasin, an 18-year-old volunteer directing traffic claims Romney “asked me who the f*ck I was and what the f*ck I was doing.”

To this day, Romney denies dropping the F-bomb, saying instead that he used the milder “H-E-double-hockey-sticks” word.

And now, the second-biggest scandal at Snowbasin has occurred. This past Monday — Christmas Eve, no less — the Weber County Sheriff’s Office towed 38 vehicles that were parked illegally on State Road 226 near the resort. (Ironically, not far from the very spot where, 17 years ago, Romney reportedly lost his “S-H-vertical-line-topped-by-a-dot-followed-by-a-cross.”)

So on Christmas Eve, at least 38 skiers and snowboarders came off the mountain looking for their vehicles, only to learn they’d been towed away — at their own expense.

As even Senator-elect Romney might say: “Merry. Flipping. Christmas.”

A number of people have taken to social media to berate the ski resort and sheriff’s office for the uncharitable holiday incident, and there has been plenty of the proverbial passing of the buck on this one. The resort said the sheriff’s office did it. The sheriff’s office said it was the Utah Department of Transportation’s fault.

And UDOT? They simply insist the mass towing event was both necessary and overdue. That section of road is narrow, and with increasing numbers of vehicles parked illegally on both sides, the state’s snow plows were finding it difficult to navigate the area to keep the road clear.

“That was the main issue,” UDOT spokesman John Gleason told Standard-Examiner reporter Mitch Shaw, “plow (operators) not being able to do their jobs.”

What’s more, it’s not like there was no room at the inn on this particular Christmas Eve. Snowbasin reports there was plenty of parking available in the lot. But, as a sheriff's office news release stated — “The people who chose to park illegally did so for reasons of convenience rather than ‘necessity’.”

Still, some folks remain unconvinced. They complain that the no-parking zone has never been enforced in the past, or that deputies should have just handed out parking tickets, or that it shouldn’t have happened on Christmas Eve of all days.

One scalawag on social media even dubbed the incident "towpocalypse.”

Could the whole thing have been handled differently? Absolutely. Is suddenly impounding 38 cars on Christmas Eve when such violations had been ignored in the past a bush-league move? Absolutely. But was UDOT, WCSO and the resort totally justified in what went down on Christmas Eve? Also absolutely.

One person who commented on our story on our website wrote: “Until Snowbasin gets off there (sic) hands and opens the parking lot next to the road this will continue.”

To which I say: “Wanna bet?”

For starters, I know of at least 38 motorists who’ll think twice about ever parking there again. And given the shock-and-awe of Monday’s towing campaign, you can be certain word will spread quickly among local skiers and snowboarders.

Bottom line? You’re not supposed to park there, it’s clearly marked that you’re not supposed to park there, and the potential consequences of parking there are obvious.

And yet, people parked there anyway.

It was a hard — and expensive — lesson to learn.

Given the reputation State Road 226 is earning for such scandalous incidents, perhaps UDOT could award that stretch of asphalt an honorary street designation, too.

Maybe something like “H-E-double-hockey-sticks Highway.” Or my particular favorite:

“No Parking Parkway.”

Contact Mark Saal at 801-625-4272, or msaal@standard.net. Follow him on Twitter at @Saalman. Friend him on Facebook at facebook.com/MarkSaal.

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