Back-Seat Driver

Dixon depot for rent, and a strange use for Sacramento bicycle lockers

Dixon asks: Want to rent a train depot?
Dixon asks: Want to rent a train depot?

It turns out that bicycles weren’t the only things being stored in some downtown garage bike lockers.

Recently, parkers at the 10th and L streets garage reported that people were changing their clothes in bin-like lockers that the city offers commuters to stow their bikes for just $5 a month. People also appeared to be storing clothes and other personal items.

We asked the city about it and they said they knew, and were taking action. “Staff is exercising sensitivity in regards to notifying these customers, as we do not know the circumstances leading to why lockers are being used as personal storage,” the city said in a brief email. “These customers will be directed to immediately remove all items, with the exception of the bikes. They will also be reminded of city policy.”

The city cleaned them out and put them back up for rent. Security guards are watching, they say.

Want to rent a train depot?

For rent: a 1,900-square-foot yellow clapboard building right next to the train tracks in downtown Dixon. It looks just like a little depot. But it’s not really. That’s the problem.

Dixon built it a decade ago with financial help from the state and federal government, hoping Amtrak would make it a train stop. That hasn’t happened, and isn’t likely for a long time. Instead, Dixon officials let the local chamber of commerce rent it for $1 a month. Local taxpayer advocates contend that is misuse of public funds. The state and feds reviewed the matter. The conclusion, for now: Dixon has the building up for rent, and supposedly would apply most of the proceeds for transportation uses – if someone is willing to rent it.

The city estimates market rate could be $11,300 to $17,000 a year. There’s a Dec. 9 deadline for tenant applications.

Clock ticking in garages

The city of Sacramento recently installed new fare machines at downtown parking garages where after you’ve parked, done your business and returned, you pay at a machine before driving out the exit gate.

Some may wonder how long you have to get your car to the exit gate before you’re required to pay more?

We learned the answer after a reader went to the rail museum in Old Sacramento with his granddaughter recently, and used the new machines. It took awhile for the two of them to get back to the car, and then it took some time for him to get her set up in her car seat. Then he made a wrong turn in the garage. By the time he got to the gate, eight minutes had elapsed. The machine wouldn’t take the ticket. The attendant said he owed $1.50 more.

He challenged it, and he was right. Under city rules, drivers are given 20 minutes to get to the gate, said parking head Matt Eierman. The new machine probably had the wrong settings.

Our reader also noticed the fare receipt had a Yokohama, Japan, address on it. Eierman said staff would check that too. It may be the manufacturer’s default settings.

By the way, there is a six-minute rule in downtown garages as well. If you drive into a garage and for whatever reason decide you do not want to park there, you have six minutes to get to the exit gate with your ticket without paying anything.

Tony Bizjak: 916-321-1059, @TonyBizjak