When it comes to parking in La Crosse’s municipal ramps, what’s old is new again. Just months after removing the often malfunctioning and vandalized parking gates in favor of free parking, the city’s Parking Utility Board is reversing course and deciding to put the pay gates back in place. The thought is that without forcing people to pay to park, those who buy reserved spots, mainly downtown business employees, are choosing to park in the more convenient free spots. That leaves fewer spots for downtown shoppers. With the downtown anchor store Duluth Trading Company set to open next month, some on the utility board think it is important that shoppers there be given a good impression, including available parking. But the reality is that putting the parking gates back likely means that there will be more malfunctioning gates, and more vandalism. More shoppers means more potential problems. I’m not sure how that provides them a pleasant experience. And of course none of this is permanent. The utility continues to search for a more efficient system for charging people to park. So the gates are going back up, but only for a while. The effort to force people to pay for parking has been marred by inconsistency and confusion. Now the city seems to think it is a good idea to provide even more inconsistency and confusion.