BUTTE, MT - No matter where you live in Montana, no matter how long you've lived here, and no matter where you're from, you've heard it mentioned. Californians are taking over Montana.

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As a self-admitted Californian myself, I must say there is definitely some credence to the bold claims. When I first came here to Montana, I had no idea that out-of-staters—as they're so lovingly called—were essentially transforming long-stood Montana culture, environment, and topography into unrecognizable metropolitan areas. Bozeman in particular is obviously the hot spot for such activity, bringing in market growth and population increase that was completely unprecedented and took honest, Montana-born individuals by complete surprise.

However, it doesn't appear to be all bad. Being lucky enough to spend some time with the good folk who are born and raised Butte, I'm told there hasn't been a whole lot of outsider invasion here in Butte, and the "Californiaization" of the Copper City has been minimal. This has led to Butte being held to some regards as one of the last havens of "real Montana" left in the state.

Yet, despite this treasured attribute, the inevitable appears to be rearing its ugly head around Homestake Pass. It was reported early this week by our friends over at KXLF Butte that Butte's Council of Commissioners is about to review a recent proposal that wants to enforce parking in the Uptown district of Butte by installing at least 50 parking cameras. The commissioners must decide if they wish to implement the five-year, $84,000 contract to install Minnesota-based company SafetyStick meters. These meters would be used to record driver parking violations, including 2-hour parking violations, fire hydrant violations, cross-walk violations, and much more.

As someone who hails from the land of getting a parking ticket for having your car be less than a micrometer in the red, my PTSD was triggered when I heard about this new proposal. Beyond that, the implications surrounding the potential parking enforcements are boundless, and certainly give credence to the "Californiaization" of Butte. For the sake of fairness, let's take a look at those implications.

Proponents of installing parking enforcement cameras in a small town’s (like Butte) main district say they can improve parking compliance and traffic flow, potentially boosting local businesses by ensuring better parking availability. However, others say the move may lead to public dissatisfaction due to increased fines, privacy concerns, and perceptions of over-regulation. While the fines may generate additional revenue, there's no real way for us—the general public—to know where the cash coming from the fines actually funnels into, despite authorities insisting they are fed back into the city.

No matter which way you look at it, no matter what you think about the "Californiaization" of Butte, one thing is certain: things are changing, and there's not much we can do about it.

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