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General Strike for Lakeshore on Thursday

on August 5, 2009

The merchants on Lakeshore plan to hold a General Strike Thursday to protest the city’s parking fee hikes, which they said, are chasing away customers.

“If we do not act now, many businesses will fail and our city will be much worse off,” wrote Allen Michaan, the owner of the Grand Lake Theater in a flyer calling for the strike.

It’s unclear how many of the businesses on Lakeshore will participate.

Bob Jaffe sighed at the sight of the parking lot behind his bakery, the Grand Bakery. “This parking lot used to be full by 5 p.m.,” said 49-year old Jaffe, but on Tuesday evening the only seven of the 85 spaces were filled.

Nevertheless, he said, he would stay open on Thursday because it is his second busiest day of the week. “I have to take care of 14 employees, and I have to be responsible for their lives,” said Jaffe adding, however, that he is “utterly opposed” to the city’s action on fees.

Others said the strike was more important.

“I do not care about money. I am doing this for solidarity,” said Jon DiBartolo, the owner of Cafe DiBartolo.

He said that his business is down 40 percent from what it has done over the past five years. Even during the bust, he said, he fared well. “Recession was supposed to be a good time for coffee shops,” said Dibartolo, but that hasn’t been the case and the parking fees have hurt his business further.

Recently he had to sell his restaurant, DiBartolo, to keep his coffee shop open.

Michaan said the general strike is voluntary and called for the merchants to attend the meeting scheduled at 6 p.m. on Thursday in the Grand Lake Theater. He added that if he does not hear from the city council soon, he will attempt a recall of the council members who voted for the fare hikes.

The council increased parking meter rates to $2 as of July 1, extended metering two hours to 8 p.m., and raised the cost of a parking ticket to $55 from $45. Michaan said the businesses in the neighborhood have experienced a 30 percent drop in their sales since the fare increase.

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Photo by Basil D Soufi
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