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Illegal parking: One mayor's ultimate urban solution

Illegal parking is one of the most stubborn and annoying problems plaguing crowded urban America.

Authorities have tried tickets. They didn't even work on state Sen. Barack Obama back in Chicago years ago. Many cities have tried tow-aways. They've tried the incapacitating Denver boot.

But now Arturas Zuokas has devised a new strategy that pretty much guarantees a particular offending vehicle will not be illegally parking ever again.

Zuokas is the mayor of Vilnius in Lithuania. He was elected in April after two previous terms interrupted by some kind of bribery scandal. But that's not the issue here. The issue is illegal parking by rich people who ignore the laws with their fancy cars.

"What should the city do about drivers who think that they are above the law?" the mayor asks in the video below.

Zuokas is an inveterate bicycle rider and campaigned successfully on a platform including making it easier to get around in the city's narrow streets. Previously, he instituted bike lanes along the curb.

To discourage illegal parking, Mayor Zuokas got an armored military vehicle and drove over the top of one illegally parked car, a shiny Mercedes, as it happened. He completely crushed it into uselessness. See video here:

The fact that the mayor purchased the Mercedes himself and purposely parked it there to make this compelling municipal public service message does not detract from the object lesson that some Vilnius drivers no doubt learned.

Watch the mayor's face as he obliterates the offender. It reflects the same satisfaction that one or two American drivers may have imagined feeling at times while parked with hundreds of other would-be commuters on U.S. freeways.

-- Andrew Malcolm

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About the Columnist
A veteran foreign and national correspondent, Andrew Malcolm has served on the L.A. Times Editorial Board and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2004. He is the author of 10 nonfiction books and father of four. Read more.
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