Thursday, August 6, 2009

blog pulse: parking

The Oakland blogosphere was briefly abuzz with talk about Oakland's budget deficit. I even wrote about it after the special election. Besides concessions from the firefighters and various changes via the special election, one way the city council decided to address the budget deficit was through changes in parking. Longer hours, higher rates, costlier tickets, and increased enforcement.

Well, that's released a veritable blogstorm. I first read about people being upset in the Tribune or Chronicle, but I didn't think much of it. Some people are upset at pretty much any change, but ones affecting their God-given right to drive a car are guaranteed to raise a fuss. Then I read on Fragmentary Evidence about the owner of the Grand Lake Theater having a meeting, and circulating a petition to recall the entire city council if the changes weren't rolled back. A strike was called amongst businesses in the Grand Lake area. That story was all over the blogosphere (Harrioak News, A Better Oakland, etc.) Well, the threat coupled with the general uproar apparently worked. Two council members called the changes 'a mistake' and said they'd address it when the council reconvenes in September. So he's won, right? Apparently not. He was out at the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the Lake Merritt Boathouse today gathering more signatures, and was uninterested in listening when I mentioned the aforementioned.

While I understand people being upset about how the changes were made, and the increased costs in general, I think he's handling the campaign poorly. Lots of hyperbole (I've told you a million times that doesn't work) and no practical alternatives offered (cutting the parking fees without an alternative source of funds isn't practical) makes me want to avoid the Grand Lake Theater, not recall the council. I'm not the only one who things he's handling it poorly; Becks on Living in the O has a great write-up on the right way to handle such protests. And for some practical alternatives, check out the post from Artemis on City Homestead.


len said...

bloggers tend to listen to other bloggers more than typical residents. to most oakland bloggers it was a foregone conclusion that of course raising parking fees, extending hours, fines for violating same made sense. that's partly a reflection of the demographics of oakland bloggers, partly your idealistic blinders, and partly intellectual arrogance. there is also a surprising faith in the power of govt directed city planning to improve urban life.

city council members were blindsided partly by their arrogance but mostly by their inability to admit they screwed up over the past decade by raising compensation levels to those of private industy plus boosting retirement benefits. that put the cc members in a bind where they had to raise revenue via fees and fines.

Unknown said...

For me I think it's less idealistic blinders and more pessimism that the city government wouldn't come up with anything else. But I agree that bloggers tend to listen more to other bloggers.