Oakland Keeps Strict Parking Rules in Place

Merchants fume over late-night decision

Wednesday, Sep 23, 2009  |  Updated 11:18 AM PDT
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Oakland Keeps Strict Parking Rules in Place

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Despite the pushback from furious merchants and customers, the Oakland City Council denied a motion early that would have rolled back recent increases in the hours of metered parking in the city in response to criticism of the new policies.

Dozens of people spoke out against the new parking policies at the meeting, which started Tuesday evening and carried on into the early morning hours Wednesday.

The Oakland City Council had voted June 30 to increase parking rates by 50 cents an hour, from $1.50 to $2, and extend the operation of parking meters to 8 p.m. 6 p.m. and offsetting the anticipated $900,000 in revenue through a variety of actions, including selling advertising space on the back of parking receipts.

Council President Jane Brunner said "it's really clear to me ... we've hit a nerve. We had good intentions, but when you have this many  people this upset, you need to make a move."

However, the motion did not pass during a vote at about 12:30 a.m. after council members Desley Brooks, Rebecca Kaplan and Nancy Nadel abstained citing budgetary concerns.

The matter was pushed to the next council meeting taking place in  two weeks so city staff can look into alternative parking policies.

Allen Michaan, the owner of the Lake Grand Theater, has led the  fight to roll back the increased meter hours, and said he was going to start an effort to recall all of the council members after this morning's decision.

Others have seen revenues decline by  20 to 30 percent in some areas since the fee and meter hour increases were implemented.

"My customers are not coming into Oakland any more, and honestly I can't blame them," he said.

Some merchants had gone so far as to shut down their stores for a day to protest the move they said was killing their businesses and making it illegal to watch movies in some Oakland neighborhoods

The parking policy was one of several issues the council had to address after an eight-week recess, other topics remained to be discussed afterward.

Once the parking issue was brought to the floor, dozens of people  spoke during a public comment period, with all but a few opposing the  increases."We were given a run-around for six hours," Michaan said.

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