A Janesville business operator has found a way to comply with—or just get around—the city's stepped-up enforcement of two-hour parking downtown.
For Shawn Kennedy, the move involves a remote-controlled feature in his Tesla crossover SUV, and it’s rooted in what he calls a "strategy of sheer laziness.”
Call it the “Downtown Janesville Slide.”
Kennedy operates SASid, an insurance services company, out of the Carriage Works building at the corner of East Milwaukee Street and North Parker Drive. From the window of his upstairs offices, he can use his vehicle’s key fob or his phone to remotely tell his 2017 Tesla Model X to roll back and forth from one open spot to an adjacent one along North Parker Drive.
That move helps Kennedy comply with the city’s stricter enforcement of two-hour public parking on some streets and city parking lots downtown. As far as Kennedy's aware, there’s no rule against sliding from one adjacent spot to the next to avoid a parking ticket.
Because his Tesla is equipped with an automatic device called “Summon,” Kennedy can direct it to move back and forth even if he's not inside the vehicle.
As long as there’s an adjacent parking spot open, Kennedy's novel life hack works.
“I’m generally pretty lazy. I thought if I didn’t have to come outside to move the car once every two hours, it would be great. So this is a case of my sheer laziness paying off,” he said.
On Thursday afternoon—officially the first day the city was set to give $15 tickets to violators of two-hour parking rules—Kennedy showed The Gazette how he uses the button on his key fob or an app on his phone to move his Tesla from one parking spot to the open spot in front of it.
“So if the spot I just pulled out of stays open the rest of the day, I’ve got four hours to park,” he said.
On Wednesday, Kennedy posted on Twitter a video showing him moving his Tesla from one spot to another from his upper-floor office. That was after his brother, SASid co-owner Shannon Kennedy, reminded Shawn he’d have to start moving his vehicle to comply with the parking crackdown.
He complied, all right. He just did it from the comfort of his office.
“I was not sure when I would use this feature … till today,” Kennedy said in the tweet, in which he also tagged Tesla and its founder, Elon Musk.
The post went viral almost immediately. As of Thursday afternoon, 5.3 million people had watched the video, and it had been re-posted on Twitter 1,000 times.
Kennedy said some people have hailed him for his creativity. In a headline, the Canadian auto news magazine Driver called Kennedy a “genius Tesla owner.”
Musk himself responded to the tweet with one of his own: "Cool haha," he wrote.
Not everybody is thrilled. Kennedy said one man made a post on social media chat site Reddit decrying the maneuver. Kennedy said the man urged police in Janesville to ticket Kennedy.
Kennedy said he has not spoken with police or parking officials, so he doesn’t know whether the city is OK with his automatic vehicle-moving trick. He figures it won’t be long until he hears from a city parking official.
A Janesville police supervisor on Thursday afternoon did not return a call from The Gazette seeking information on the first day of the stepped-up parking enforcement downtown.
The city’s ordinance on parking lot and street parking has a clause designed to prevent people from hopping around spots within city parking lots to skirt parking time limits.
The rule states: “No person shall move a vehicle from a parking stall within a public parking lot to a different parking stall within the same lot without first leaving the lot.”
However, the ordinance doesn’t appear to address the same kind of spot-hopping on street parking.
Kennedy said he has not heard too much complaining about the parking crackdown. He said he’s just as likely to park in adjacent lots or in the parking deck across the street if street parking outside his office is sewn up—which, he said, is frequently the case.
“I know it’s a lot busier downtown now than it was a couple of years ago,” Kennedy said. “I understand the parking enforcement.”