City Council may call emergency meeting over fees
on August 7, 2009
Only nine of 50 local businesses participated in Thursday’s General Strike to protest the hike in parking fees, but some 100 local business owners and residents attended the meeting Thursday night at the Grand Lake Theater and District 2 Councilmember Pat Kernighan said the City Council should meet soon to reconsider the fee hikes.
Kernighan said at the meeting that she had received more than 200 e-mails during the last several weeks, complaining about the hikes in parking-related fees.
“The city might have done too much at one time,” said Kernighan referring to the increase to $2 an hour and the extended hours. She said she had already suggested to Council President Jane Brunner that the council reconvene before the recess ends in September to roll back the hours the meters operate to the original 6 p.m. from the current 8 p.m.
Allen Michaan, the owner of the Grand Lake Theater, who is spearheading the protest against the parking meter fees and hours, said that he would start a recall unless the council members take action by Monday.
“I am going to hire a lawyer on Tuesday if I do not hear from the city council, “ said Michaan, to applause at Thursday’s meeting.
It was the second meeting Michaan convened at his theater. This time, the former Oakland Mayor Elihu Harris attended along with more than 100 angry residents and merchants from Piedmont, the Diamond and Laurel districts, and even Walnut Creek. They all shared stories about the negative impact that the increased fees and hours are having.
“My client complained that she got a $55 ticket,” said Wade Littlejohn, the owner of ORA Tiffany’s Salon on Grand Avenue. He said that if would lose his business if he has to keep feeding the parking meter every time his clients run out of the meter hour.
Some businesses might face closing. “I can’t wait until September, because our best season is summer,” said Ashlee Lang, the owner of Gelato Feirenze. She, with tears in her eyes, said her business depends on the movie gores, and she is not sure if her business is going to be sustainable.
The owner of Cesars, a tapas restaurant on Piedmont Avenue said that he is losing customers who get a “$55 ticket for $50 meal.” He added that he and his neighbors have to buy a lot for the community valet parking.
Some residents are upset that they are losing parking spots because people are trying to save money by parking on their street, and lots of residents are getting tickets. “In my mind, the City Council chose an ‘easy solution,” for their budget crises rather than trying to solve them,” said Dan Bruce, who has lived in the neighborhood for more than 30 years.
Michaan said he was happy about the result of his two-week campaign. “It is not only about Grand Lake, but it is also about Oakland. Our voice is being heard,” said Michaan, who is calling for another General Strike and meeting on September 4th.
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