Wednesday, January 6th, 2010 at 11:11 am in Night Owl.
The word on the street is that cash-strapped Chicago is emulating Oakland by turning to parking meter fee hikes. Windy City residents did not react well to the news. We feel for you, Chicago.
I have always wondered why some cities, such as New York, do not seem to rely so heavily on meters, parking zones and have a far (FAR FAR FAR) more rational street-cleaning procedure. And the city is not going bankrupt. Where do they get the money???
Elsewhere, like Chicago and Oakland,officials are trying to suck out every dime they can from meters and 2-hour parking zones covering as many square inches as possible. I won’t even talk about street cleaning, expect to say that Oakland gets kudos for finally moving back the hours downtown. Park Street merchants, I noticed, took a different approach during the holidays by banding together to offer shoppers on the busy street several hours of free parking. (Meanwhile, the Grand Lake area merchants were still predicting doomsday because the city jacked up the parking rates.)
The same goes with public transportation. Why can most of the world provide reliable, cheap and fast subways, whereas the Bay Area relies on trains that run infrequently, shut down early and are more expensive for a family of four than driving (RT from Oakland to Embarcadero, just a couple of miles, is $6.20 per person = $25. Driving costs at most $15 – even less if parking is not involved.) New York’s subway gets you from one end of Manhattan to Coney Island and back for about $5. That is a long distance. Really, Portland, New York, Boston, London, Paris, Sarajevo and Zagreb have better systems than the Bay Area.
Parking rates would not drive me away from Oakland or any other city. But that, coupled with a high cost of living, limited amenities and an expensive, weak, unresponsive public transportation system like BART makes me feel like the Bay Area just isn’t worth it anymore no matter how good the weather is.