Oakland Merchants Close Shop to Protest Parking Fees

Business owners want city to repeal new parking regulations

By Cheryl Hurd
|  Thursday, Aug 6, 2009  |  Updated 6:46 PM PDT
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Oakland Merchants Shut Down to Send a Message

Erin Murphy

The marquee at the Grand Lake Theater in Oakland announces the public protest against the parking fees.

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Oakland Merchants Shut Down to Send a Message

Several businesses in Oakland didn't open on Thursday to protest new parking fees and regulations they call anti-business.
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Not only are jobs in jeopardy, but small businesses in Oakland feel like increased parking fines and extended hours will put them out of business. In fact, some businesses closed for the day on Thursday, to send a strong message to city hall.

Last week, there were about 50 people attending a meeting at the Grand Lake Theater in Oakland to protest new parking rules across the city. On Thursday they expected more.

Merchants and residents they say they refuse to give up, until parking fines and extended hours are rolled back.

"I saw this as a death nail for my theater and businesses all over Oakland," owner of the theater Allen Michaan said.

Michaan is known for letting people know how he feels on his theater marquee in the Grand Lake District. Now he is starting a petition for people who agree with him to protest the new parking regulations.

"Oakland mayor and city council say they're pro business," he said. "(This is) absolutely wrong way to go about it."

About a dozen businesses closed Thursday to protest the parking meter increase and extended hours that went into effect July 1.

"It's hurting businesses," said business owner Jen Louise Dunning. "People keep money at the edge of their table and have to get up a feed the meter."

And if you don't you could end up like Rafael Ramirez.

"$80 (for) one ticket is ridiculous," said the Oakland resident. "What they're doing to the general public is criminal."

The city council feels it had no other choice. Last year Oakland collected close to $32 million in parking fines and meters fees. The city expects the rate hike to bring in an extra $4.5 million, which city council members say will help reduce a budget deficit that extended way over $100 million.

"They want public safety, police libraries, we need the revenue to close the extraordinary gap," Oakland Spokeswoman Karen Boyd said.

Michaan said the measures are "the most anti-business, anti-resident, anti-friendly (thing) that I've seen to come out of downtown city hall."

City officials say they hear the public and are making changes. Starting Monday, you can buy a parking ticket for three hours instead of two "after" 5 p.m. The parking ticket will be valid anywhere in Oakland.

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