There are more important problems in the world, but I've got a gripe: narrow parking spaces. I run a business on east Eighth Street and all day long, I watch locals and tourists alike try to extricate themselves from their vehicles without causing too much damage to the car next to them. After observing this awkward dance for some time, I measured the parking stalls. They are 7 feet wide. One of my early jobs was painting lines on the road. We would have scoffed if someone requested 7-foot parking spaces. Are there city or state codes regarding the size of parking stalls? Other streets seem to have larger spaces. - Bob Steele
Don't fret about the "more important problems in the world." They're already being taken care of.
You see, President Barack Obama and Action Line have an agreement.
Obama takes care of fixing the economy, creating jobs, protecting the environment, restoring civil liberties, instilling hope in all Americans and repairing the nation's reputation as a beacon of freedom and justice.
Action Line takes care of all the other stuff, such as parking.
So far, the arrangement is working out pretty well.
The traditional parking space is 8 feet wide, according to Jack Rogers, the city's director of public works, "But in urban environments, 7 feet is now what's recommended."
In newer developments, the standard also is 7 feet, he added.
There are a number of reasons for skinnier parking spaces, other than to enrich auto body and paint establishments who repair "door dings."
First and foremost, a 7-foot-wide parking stall gives the city the greatest number of parking spots downtown.
And the 7-foot-wide space would work just fine - as long as everyone parked properly.
Unfortunately, that's asking too much. Many Durangoans have yet to master turn signal, stop sign or lane-change procedures. How can we expect these people to park conscientiously within a marked area?
Reconfiguring and repainting downtown parking isn't an option. The city isn't going to take away any spaces.
So open your door carefully and keep shimmying.
Is it really necessary to put all of the delivered papers in orange plastic bags? I can understand their use for inclement weather, but using thousands of plastic bags every day only contributes to litter and landfill problems. If papers must be bagged, could The Durango Herald at least use recyclable ones? - Jodi Petersen
Nancy Andrews, the city's resource conservation coordinator, did some calling around and confirmed that local grocers recycle all type-4 plastic bags.
So just take your bags to City Market, Wal-Mart or Albertsons. But the best thing you can do is take orange bags to the container at the Herald's front desk.
"We give them back to the carriers so they can be used again," said Julio Goicoechea, the Herald's circulation manager.
That's actually the best way to recycle. Reusing bags locally keeps them from being trucked to Denver for reprocessing at a plastics plant.
By the way, orange bags aren't required daily.
"It's up to individual carriers to determine if a bag is needed," Goicoechea said. "The standard is for the delivery of a dry, complete newspaper."
Carriers are independent contractors and pay for the bags themselves, he said.
Weather isn't always a factor.
"In summer, the lawn sprinklers can come on, so you might see bagged papers on a sunny day," Goicoechea added.
And you thought orange bags were just another Denver Broncos marketing gimmick or a safety device to keep Texas hunters from shooting your newspaper.
E-mail questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or mail them to Action Line, The Durango Herald, 1275 Main Ave., Durango, CO 81301. You can request anonymity if you can name a word that rhymes with orange.