Oakland merchants are fighting back against the city.New parking hours and increased fines has some business owners alleging the city is making things difficult for them during an already tough economy
On July 1, parking meter hours were extended to 8 p.m.and fines went up. Parking fines cost $55 and parking enforcement ends at 8 p.m. instead of 6 and parking rates were raised from $1.50 to $2.00 an hour. The change was one of several moves by Oakland to close an $80 million hole in it's wallet
"I think it's unfair for people who live in the area," Oakland resident Charles Wohl said. "When I come home in the evening I can't find a place to park because people who shop in the area park in the residential district."
Most vocal about the change are business owners and shoppers in Oakland's Montclair district, the posh Piedmont Avenue area, and the hipster friendly Lake Merritt and Temescal districts.
Residents and business owners say the city did not think the measure through before the rate hike was implemented. In some areas the signs still say metering is over at 6 p.m., which has ticketed drivers furious and the always political Grand Lake Theatre deploring the rate hikes in its marquee.
One business owner in the Temescal district has an elaborate display in his window warning people to pay the meters before they get a ticket.
"This isn't San Francisco," business owner Richard Buijs said. "I think the city council's idea to make money is backfiring. Making people stay away from the business district."
City Council President Jane Brunner said Oakland is "desperate for the revenue."
"We can tell if we're not charging enough if people can't find parking spaces because people are staying in spaces too long," she said. "The system is a work in progress. We will monitor the system monthly to see if it's working. If it's not working, we will change it."