This is a recurring theme: Parking meters exist to generate revenue for the city, but the city council alters the time the meters are in effect to accommodate local churches.
Now, the Freedom From Religion Foundation is going after the city council (PDF) in San Luis Obispo, California.
In short, the meters are in operation every day between 9:00a and 6:00p. On Sundays, even though local businesses open at 11:00a, the meters don’t go into effect until 1:00p.
One reason that Sunday parking was not approved when it was last considered in 2006 was because of opposition by the five churches near, or in the downtown…
The recommendation to begin charging at 11:00 a.m. will still allow for church members to park in nearby structures for as low as $0.75 for two hours, if they exit the structure before 1:00 p.m.
By not pushing the start time back to 11:00a, the city is foregoing $77,724 of revenue (PDF), all on behalf of the churches.
As the FFRF says, this is a violation of the Establishment Clause. It’s not as overt as just handing the church money, but they’re denying taxpayers revenue for the city because they want to accommodate the churches’ wishes. There’s no reason to cave in to the churches’ demands.
To the San Luis Obispo City Council: Turn the meters on at 9:00a like all the other days. Tell the worshipers to take some of their tithing money and put it in the meter slots. Everyone will be just fine and you’ll avoid a lawsuit.
(Thanks to Martin for the link)