Oakland Tribune Outtakes

Notes from Oakland, Berkeley and in between

Merchants in an uproar over parking

By awoodall
Thursday, July 30th, 2009 at 7:12 pm in Night Owl.

There was  a lot of posturing involved in this anger-fest over parking laws in Oakland. I think the recent hikes were the straw that broke the camel’s back. Figures like 300 to 400 percent increases in the past few years were brandished during the meeting at the Grand Lake Theater, whose owner Allen Michaan instigated the event. He blamed years of bad business on parking policies. But he has blamed other things in the past. No doubt the merchants are being affected. But I don’t think Michaan’s proposal for a business shut-down next Thursday is such a great idea if parking is already hurting business. But he said he has several hundred signatures on a petition to recall City Councilmembers. They’re going to have to offer better responses than maybe people will take more public transit or let’s see how things go to calm things down. I just wnat to know how much it’s going to cost the city to pay the meter maids to work until 8 p.m. How is that saving money?

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2 Responses to “Merchants in an uproar over parking”

  1. Art Says:

    This all seems like a tempest in a teapot. Other cities are upping parking fees too—it’s simply a necessity in this fiscal era, and our new rates are in the middle of the road for cities our size according to a parking study Portland did before they changed their fees this month. (They also started charging on Sundays in some districts!)

    Also, we’re Grand Lake Theater regulars, and we bike there (and to most other shops and restaurants in Oakland). We’ll continue to do so, and I’d like to think that other Oaklanders might be encouraged to bike or walk to their local businesses. I just wish Alan could funnel this energy into, say, installing bike racks in front of the theater instead, which would be a huge help for his customers who’d like to avoid the parking fees. Ah, well.

    The only real issues I see with the parking policy are the quarters (this is annoying, and easily fixed by installing the new machines sooner rather than later in commercial districts that don’t yet have them, which also saves time/cost for meter maids) and the one- and two-hour parking zones in some areas of the city. If you’re headed out for dinner and a movie, it was easy to pay till 6 pm and then you’d be good to go for the rest of the evening. But having to run out to re-up the meter at 7 will be frustrating.

    Maybe a good compromise might be to extend the meter times, but set the machines to allow longer (and maybe cheaper—half price after 6 pm, say?) parking later in the evening?

    I’d also be all for limiting the extended hours to the commercial districts that already have the machines, since it’s fairly simple to reprogram those and quick to scan cars for violations—seems like changing the individual meters in places and then monitoring them one by one where they still take quarters is a pain in the neck and likely to cost more than it will gain. It’s also an easy distinction—if the meter takes quarters, you get the old rate; if it’s the machine and you can use your credit card, you pay the new rate.

    At the end of the day, though, we need to recognize that this is a new fiscal era. If we want the city services we’ve grown accustomed to (and it seems that we do—lots and lots of Oaklanders came out to protest cuts to the park and rec, library, and arts budgets earlier this year), we need to pay more for them than we have in the past. I’ll happily pay an extra 50 cents an hour for parking if it means my local library branch stays open a bit longer, or that the arts programs don’t get as badly decimated.

  2. awoodall Says:

    I agree on one hand but on the other hand I was scratching my head that parking is easier in Manhattan than Oakland or SF, which pretty much says it all. By that I mean the city does not have 2-hour parking everywhere, or meters in many areas, and street cleaning is accomplished a whole lot easier bc cars can double-park on the other side of the streets in some neighborhoods. Even finding a spot on the upper West Side was easier than finding parking in SF and sometimes in Oakland. I have been meaning to check what prompted NYC to adopt its parking policies and what that looks like for the city’s budget. Anyone know the story?

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