A more rational business approach towards parking enforcement changes

30 Sep

The common refrain in Oakland recently is that businesses are opposed to the meter rate increases and the metering time change from 6pm to 8pm. Several business owners, led by Allen Michaan of the Grand Lake Theater, have spoken out at Council meetings, expressed their concerns to the media, circulated a petition threatening to recall the Council if the parking changes weren’t revoked, and posted a cartoon depiction of what Oakland looks like after the parking changes.

But other businesses are accepting the changes. Instead of scaring customers off by screaming to the media that customers will get ticketed if they come to Oakland (great job Michaan!), they’re educating their customers about the changes so that they won’t get ticketed. Spice Monkey, one of the few reasonably priced restaurants in downtown Oakland that stays open for dinner, put this sign up in their window:

spice monkey parking

If you can’t read that, it says:

NOTICE TO CUSTOMERS: Please be aware of the City of Oakland’s new parking meter guidelines!

Street parking is now $2.00 per hour and enforced until 8 p.m.

We apologize for the inconvenience. Feel free to ask us if there are other parking alternatives available.

Imagine how different the conversation would be if businesses throughout Oakland had taken this tact instead of following Michaan’s lead. Oakland wouldn’t have gotten all this terrible media coverage, and maybe people wouldn’t be so irrationally scared to come here. And yes, this fear is irrational, because people are much more likely to get ticketed in San Francisco and basically every Bay Area city charges for parking and enforces parking violations.

So go to Spice Monkey, buy some food (I highly recommend their salads and grilled cheese sandwich), and thank them for taking such a rational approach to the parking enforcement changes.

14 Responses to “A more rational business approach towards parking enforcement changes”

  1. Gene September 30, 2009 at 8:53 am #

    Hooray for rational responses! My wife and I love Spice Monkey. We’ve been there a couple of times and loved it. And the building it’s in is worth checking out. The Howden Building was a tile company and showroom, and so has beautiful tile inside and out.

  2. Andy K September 30, 2009 at 10:35 am #

    I have written off the Grand Lake because of their crazy response to the parking rates. Will now have to try the spice monkey.

  3. ralph September 30, 2009 at 11:45 am #

    Those crazy kids on College Ave have similar signs posted in their storefronts as well.

    It is really hard for me to listen to Alan Michaan, a business owner who has readily available free parking.

    I also wish people would stop calling a parking fee a tax. I think it is unfair that I have to pay for a popcorn and soda when I see a movie, but no one is calling that a tax.

  4. Robert September 30, 2009 at 2:01 pm #

    tax: a charge usually of money imposed by authority on persons or property for public purposes

    If it quacks like a duck…

  5. SF2OAK September 30, 2009 at 5:05 pm #

    So why did I just recently put in $2 before I went to spice Monkey @ 7pm? because just to go in and ask about parking you might just get a $55 ticket. I think the food is good but not with an added $55. I wish owners of a business like that would stand up for their customers- is it so hard to park at spice monkey for dinner- no should there be meters until 8 pm down there – NO. And they will tell you where to park for free.

  6. bob September 30, 2009 at 6:06 pm #

    How can Michaan threaten to recall Oakland’s City Council?

    He lives in Alameda.

    Talk about carpetbaggers.

  7. len raphael September 30, 2009 at 10:28 pm #

    the pity is that the council was so willing to upset a wide range of residents and businesses over a measure whose net revenue gain after collection costs was probably way under a couple of million dollars. and that ignores possible depressing effects on sales and business tax.

    regardless of whether the reaction was proportional to the fine and rate increases, if the council were willing to risk annoying so many residents for so little net bucks, why didn’t they try something courageous like leading the repealing of the parcel tax that diverts millions of dollars to non profits at a time when city employees have to be laid off and class sizes increased.

    many of the supporters of the parking changes are too quick to accept the budget choice menu provided by the council or so happy to see something that could increase the greening of oakland they’ll overlook that this inept use of parking fines to raise revenue gives rational parking management a bad rap.

    this is the same council with two members who fought over their free parking spots.

    -len raphael

  8. G October 1, 2009 at 12:40 am #

    Umm…these comment writers obviously DON’T run businesses in oakland.

    Michaan is not pissed at the parking per se so much as business owners in Oakland being stomped on by the city. Oakland can’t protect them from thugs, vandalism or worst murder but they are making business hard.

    it’s the principle folks. Support Michaan and show Oakland that they need to be pro-business

  9. dto510 October 1, 2009 at 8:28 am #

    Free parking is not pro-business, quite the opposite. I also am no longer patronizing Grand Lake because of the selfish and regressive attitudes of the merchants there.

  10. bob October 1, 2009 at 9:58 am #

    dto – I’m with you.

    If Meechan was really the progressive he claims to be he would ask the city to replace a few parking spot with Portland-style on-street bike parking. That would tap into the progressive, young eco-folks who are thriving in Oakland these days.

    For now, that crowd (temescal, lake merrit, uptown) views him and his theater as the leader of the conservative car-huggers and have started a boycott.

    Maybe that’s why his business is down.

  11. Andy K October 1, 2009 at 10:39 am #

    Though I am opposed to this parking fee revolt, I am even more opposed to the massive waste of tax dollars by the city on questionable non-profits, etc. These two items are not mutually exclusive.

  12. merrymetermaid October 10, 2009 at 10:29 am #

    I enjoy seeing businesses that work with parking enforcement rather than against it. In our town, meters were originally put in after business owners asked for a way to keep people from parking in front of their businesses for days. Some of the current business owners do not understand how paid parking is better for business, but keeping the customers rotating is a positive thing.

  13. Chris Hann January 9, 2010 at 4:04 pm #

    I can only comment from my perspective. I live in Alameda but like to get off the island to shop or eat rather than never see anything else. We arranged to meet a friend for breakfast in Oakland and I was surprised to find we needed to pool our change to park the car. I don’t, typically, keep rolls of quarters in my pockets. So next time we went to another city. I only consider Oakland if I know I have a pocket full of change and I can’t get what I want somewhere else nearby. Making life difficult for people who drive in to your city is most certainly your right, but I am never going to get to the point of considering whether your business owners ‘work with parking enforcement’, whatever that means. Rather than risk running foul of your system I’ll just shop elsewhere.

  14. len raphael January 9, 2010 at 6:53 pm #

    if there was ever a small city that should raise parking fees it’s Walnut Creek. I went there several times over the holiday season to shop for stuff that was not sold in Oakland (which is most stuff), and had to go in search circles for twenty minutes.

    Heck, their entire downtown was packed every single evening and weekend. But it wasn’t the free parking, it was the pleasant, safe and yes upscale envoirment.

    That’s a place which could charge 2/hour and it probably wouldn’t put a dent in their sales tax collections and would increase parking availability.

    But no, it’s Oakland the retail ghosttown that leads the way.

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