So the trend that I first encountered in Lisbon, last year (see The Streets Of Lisbon) has made it to the States. Or maybe this has been going on for a long time, and I never noticed.
My SF apartment is on Brannan, near 4th. There is a side street off 4th that some enterprising type blocked off with traffic cones, and they were directing people into the street who paid for the service, as if they were chartered to do so. Public street.
I asked one guy, and he gave me a bunch of double talk: he’d been doing this for years, worked with the ball park (it was a Giant’s game at AT&T (Mays) Stadium), and it was cool, man, cool, no problems. He was actually standing in the middle of the street directing traffic with a flashlight, which gave him a sort-of immediate situational authority. Plus the Giants sweatshirt.
He and a confederate on the corner of Brannan and 4th, who was managing the same stuff with public parking places in Brannan.
And so the scam is that they can do this because people want to pay to avoid having their cars vandalized. Local, grassroots protection grifters. And where’s the cops? No where.
Years ago, I was going somewhere in Boston, and I found an abandoned lot. I pulled my car into the lot, parked near the exit, and started to walk out. Someone drove in, rolled the window down and asked how much it was to park for the concert. Without blinking an eye, I said “$10” and took his money. I hung around for an additional 20 minutes, after filling the lot with an addition 15 or so cars. I took my $150 and parked my own car at a parking lot closer to the show for $25, selling the spot I was originally in at the empty lot first.
So I get it, but it’s crime, not civic mindedness. It’s a scam.