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When fees and tickets are as aggressive as ours have become, well, people notice and they do not care much about the explanations. No one likes to get tricked and cheated. To get one of these tickets is to feel robbed and violated. A 75$ surcharge for a cup of coffee is reason enough to not come to Oakland in the first place. If you live in Oakland and have gotten into your car, $75 is reason enough to drive out of Oakland to a place you can park your car without running the gauntlet. Somewhere like Emeryville, Berkeley, or San Leandro, for example.
We know this "gotcha" feeling already. Oakland council found it in their hearts to stick it to landlords for damaged sidewalks and then do it again if there is a lawsuit. Is that different from how the credit card companies do their best to send bills out as late as possible and up your interest rate for a few hours past due? Newer home and business owners get to pay higher taxes than the old big money under Prop. 13 tax "reform." Yeah we all know the sound of "gotcha."
Now Oakland has made parking your car in our city have that same sound.
Don Macleay, Oakland
Stop Persecuting Motorcycles
Last year, my motorcycle was ticketed for an expired parking receipt even though the receipt was valid and plainly visible — I got the receipt only 30 minutes before the citation was issued and it had another hour left. I filed an objection, sending both the parking receipt and citation to the Parking Division. Ten months later my objection was denied. For insufficient information!
I was peeved, not only because denying my objection was either intentionally malfeasant or incredibly dumbass, but also because the pay-and-display meters put all motorcycle and scooter riders, not just me, in a no-win situation. Where are we supposed to display the parking receipt that it won't be stolen or even just blown away by the wind? Guess what ... nowhere!
So I researched the damn meters and found that most cities using them have made provisions for two-wheeled vehicles. Some cities simply let us park free; some provide special parking slots, free or with meters that don't issue receipts; some rely on parking permits. I also learned that Oakland's City Council was aware of our problem before adopting the new regulations.
I forwarded all this info to my city councilmember, the parking division, the city administrator, and a few others. Then I filed for an in-person hearing. A couple of days later I got a new notice saying, in effect, "Gee, you gave us enough information after all. The citation is cancelled."
To be fair, in my research I learned that Oakland isn't the only city hurtfully ignoring riders' issues. New York City uses pay-and-display meters, too, and makes no provision for two-wheelers. But their city council is smart enough to be considering changes.
Mike Bradley, Oakland
Rates Should Increase
I'm disappointed that some of my favorite Oakland businesses have reacted so violently to Oakland's increase in parking meter charges. I patronize numerous Oakland businesses. I go for their special goods, things like Grand Bakery's fabulous challah, Diesel's hand-picked selection of books, Bakesale Betty's goodies in a unique atmosphere. I'd lose all that if I went elsewhere to save a quarter or two on parking meter charges. And it wouldn't even make economic sense — I'd spend more in gas than I saved on the meter, especially if I went all the way out to Walnut Creek as one business owner suggested.
Councilmember Quan is correct about the extension of meter hours. It will keep parking spaces available that otherwise would have been snapped up for the night at 6:00. That's far more discouraging to the would-be business patron than paying a little bit for the space. Many business districts — like South Beach in San Francisco — have long charged for evening parking.
Indeed, today's best parking practice prices spaces so that about 85 percent are full at all times. The public (the city) gets full revenue from the scarce resource of parking, yet drivers can always find a space. Rates for different rates and times are determined by surveys of actual use, but I'd guess that this policy would lead to as many increases in Oakland parking rates as decreases. Some cities share that revenue between citywide needs and improvements in the neighborhood where it is collected, providing a direct benefit to local merchants.
This "Great Recession" is a bad time for almost everyone in the economy, so it's not surprising that small businesses are nervous. But a long-overdue effort by Oakland to rationalize at least part of its parking policy should not be the victim of that.
Nathan Landau, Oakland
Tickets for Taxation
In "Other Parking Enforcement Complaints," the sidebar to your main article about the parking rebellion in Oakland, you note, "frustrated drivers worry that [parking tickets are] another city tool for closing the budget gap." Well, worry no more — at least in Berkeley!
I was at an organic cafe just west of Hanksville, Utah a couple of months ago when a couple of vacationers walked in. The woman's companion happened to mention that she was a Berkeley city councilwoman, and I said, "Oh, I'm from Berkeley — what's your name?"
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