Max Allstadt: Grandstanding at the Grand Lake Theater

On Thursday, Grand Lake Theater proprietor Allen Michaan hosted a meeting at the theater to protest recent increases in Oakland’s parking fees and fines. I attended the meeting, and frankly, there was so much bluster and vitriol in the theater that afternoon that the one or two accurate criticisms I heard were completely lost in a sea of loopy rhetoric. Mr. Michaan’s ideas about Oakland politics are reckless, grandstanding and naive.

In his opening remarks, Michaan called the fee and fine hikes extortion. He then launched into a screed in which he declared that he was prepared to recall every sitting Oakland City Councilmember if his demands weren’t met. There were unofficial recall petitions in the lobby, and he asked guests to sign them.

A few reactions to this: First, it would be an obscenity if Michaan was able to run a successful recall campaign…because he lives in Alameda and he can’t even vote in Oakland, let alone sign or initiate an official recall petition. (That’s why the petitions at this meeting were unofficial). Second, the number of signatures he needs would be impossible to obtain. Even if he did succeed in that phase, three of eight council seats are up in 2010. Is it even legal to have a recall election coincide with an ordinary election? In short, the recall idea is grandstanding and nothing more.

Mr. Michaan believes that the new fees and fines were hurting local business. They have been in effect for barely two weeks. Any observations he has about his own business slowing down are purely anecdotal and premature. My personal theory is that he’s been showing the new Harry Potter movie, which has been widely panned by critics and the public.

Allen Michaan himself is a bigger threat to local businesses than the new parking fees. He tells us he’s afraid that the fear of getting a ticket will scare away his customers. His solution was to call the local TV news stations in for a field day, and talk about how horrible the fines are. The message that got on the local news and reached the suburbs was “If you come to Oakland to see a movie, you’ll get a horrible parking ticket!”. His solution to fines which scare his customers was to get on the news and scare his customers some more? Anybody else see a flaw in this plan?

It gets worse. Michaan has suggested that Oakland businesses close all day this Thursday in protest of the parking fee hikes. This is the single most idiotic and reckless idea he has proposed. We are in the middle of a recession and he is asking thousands of business owners to forgo a day’s worth of income!

What about the employees of these businesses? Will they get a paid day off, or will they lose a days work and wages? What good would a one day strike do, other than to bolster Mr. Michaan’s ego? Council is in recess and it will be at least six weeks before they can respond to the parking grievances at a meeting. By that time any silly little strike will have been forgotten, but anybody who participated in the strike will still be out hundreds if not thousands of dollars. For nothing.

This short-sighted and reckless pursuit of self-interest is nothing new for Mr. Michaan. A few years back, he organized an attempt to shutdown the Grand Lake Farmer’s Market at Splash Pad Park. Why? I am not making this up: because the patrons of the market were using too much parking, and he saw this as a threat to his business!

In a campaign related to his attempt to shut down the Farmer’s market, Allen Michaan successfully lobbied the council to remove fees for parking in the city lot under 580. He managed to get subsidized parking for his entire commercial area. So not only is he screaming all the wrong tactics to his followers, he also is complaining of persecution when his area already has a parking subsidy provided by the city. In fact, the Grand/Lakeshore area has more available parking than any other neighborhood retail district in all of Oakland.

So if Allen Michaan has little factual basis for complaining, and if his tactics are ham-handed at best, why is anybody listening to him? Why did 84 people show up at his meeting? Why did guest after guest at that meeting step up to the mic and scream and yell about how much they hate parking tickets.

Easy. They hate parking tickets. I do too. There’s a sense of powerlessness you get from them. You can’t blow up the DMV, and you can’t refuse to pay, or the ticket goes up, and if you wait too long, they’ll boot you. It’s frustrating as all hell. Believe me, I’ve been there.

I believe that the increased fees are necessary, and that the increased fines may also be necessary. But I also believe that the head of the parking department bungled the transition to these new fees and fines by going on an enforcement bonanza the day after the new rules went into effect. A better council resolution would have issued a directive to phase them in gently to avoid a political backlash.

I don’t know if the enforcement blitz was a departmental decision by Noel Pinto or a directive from City Administrator Dan Lindheim, but either way, someone in a non-political job made a decision without weighing the political consequences. This has given Allen Michaan a great deal of ammunition. Michaan, regrettably, is using that ammunition to shoot himself and his neighbors in the foot.

What to do about all of this? Well for starters, if you’re pissed off about a parking ticket, take a few deep breaths before you hop on Allen Michaan’s bandwagon. His proposed strike will do more harm than good. I strongly urge local businesses to completely ignore the strike and to stay open. Please realize that Michaan’s proposed recall of the entire council is an empty threat and is so naive that it seriously damages his credibility as a leader.

I also urge folks who were upset by the initial parking blitz to realize that the City apparently got the message. When the meters were extended to 8pm, parking enforcers handed out warnings instead of tickets for quite a while. There also seems to be consensus that for 1 hour and 2 hour spots, after 5pm you will soon be allowed to buy the spot all the way ’til 8 when the meter closes. There are other possibilities for practical reform that I’ll discuss in a post when Council is back in session and something can actually be done. It will be a little while before any parking issues can come before the council, so there’s time to think, get it right and make it workable.

But for now, lets all chill out and realize that Allen Michaan is a pied piper who isn’t going to lead us anywhere except to bitterness and disappointment. His tactics are crass, his logic flawed, and his motivations seem selfish. I urge the council to ignore him completely and tell his followers to pick another leader with some manners if they want to be heard at all.

Max Allstadt is a Carpenter, Musician and Activist living in West Oakland

227 thoughts on “Max Allstadt: Grandstanding at the Grand Lake Theater

  1. Bob LaMartin

    OK, I disagree with Mr. Michaan about calling for a strike, and I have disagreed with him on other issues. I especially disagreed with some of the messages he has used his bully marquis to broadcast (but I have to admit, I agree with most of them).

    I’m uncomfortable with Mr. Allstadt’s suggestion that because Mr. Michaan can’t vote in Oakland, he doesn’t have a right to initiate or participate in a petition drive. Mr. Michaan has earned the right to both comment and participate in the Oakland discussion, and might still be living in Oakland today if he hadn’t become disgusted with Oakland politics.

    He almost single handedly saved one of Oakland’s greatest icons, the Grand Lake Theater, and then watched helplessly as the Jack London Multi-Drex drained off his customers and increased costs on first run movies. This was patently unfair, and while I can’t speak for Mr. Michaan, I think seeing the increased parking fees as yet another wrong headed move by the city which hurts his business, and the entire Oakland business community, is very reasonable. I applaud him for providing a forum for doing this (not the first time the Grand Lake Theater has been used for any number of free community forums).

    It is Mr. Allstadt’s final paragraph which I find overly personal, and wrong. Allen Michaan a pied piper who isn’t going to lead us anywhere except to bitterness and disappointment?

    Uh, have you followed his business career? With a grubstake meant for college, he built a mini-theater empire. He lovingly restored many of the run down theaters in the Bay Area, and built new ones with classic themes which had been ripped out of theaters and replaced with paneling and plastic. Those signed Tiffany windows in the lobby are his “seconds,” and the beautiful Grand Lake Theater sign, front marquis, and the Wurlitzer organ must have taken hundreds of thousands of dollars to renovate.

    If his tactics are crass, his logic flawed, and his motivations seem selfish, I urge other business leaders to emulate his crass, flawed, selfish motivations which have contributed so much to the rich history of Oakland. And made him wealthy enough to move out of Oakland, something a lot of people are thinking about.

    Mr. Michaad has earned the right to express his opinion, and in my humble opinion, he is more often right than wrong when it comes to Oakland issues.

    And beware of people who advise you to mind your manners. If you’re not mad as hell about what’s going on in Oakland today, you’re just not paying attention.

    Bob LaMartin

  2. Ralph

    As the unidentified speaker quoted in the SFBlog post on this meeting, I am flabbergasted that these business owners fail to understand simple economics. The Lakeshore shopping district is something to be treasured but it is hard to treasure it when parking is hard to find. The solution, I shop elsewhere. If the city were to give away parking, have you any idea how many people would just squat a spot. Less turnover means fewer shoppers. Michaan is overly concerned about a handful of customers who do come versus the busloads who opt to stay away because it is impossible to park.

    How much is parking at Camp Max. Sounds like a place I want to be.

    PS: As for the multiplex, if they draw the hoi polloi and unwashed masses and places like GLT draw adults, then I am for it. But I am guessing there is more than one factor that has impacted places like GLT and parking at it. If I recall correctly you pay for parking at JL multiplex.

  3. bennett

    here is the letter to the editor re-posted from the Montclarian, which I think best sums up what is wrong with the system that is evolving here. This one really stood out to me. Another was about a ticket levied at 7:52 PM in front off the Longs. People are ready to throw the tea in the harbour over this.

    check this out….

    Costly meters ruin day’s outing

    Last Friday, three of us ate lunch, then went to a movie on Piedmont Avenue. We first parked in the lot behind Cesar, and paid the max, $4, for two hours. After lunch, we moved the car and sat in it with the remainder of our earlier receipt in the window until we decided we could buy another $4, maximum time ticket which would get us through a movie. Alas, the movie ran over. $8 in parking, time spent sitting in the car waiting, and a $55 ticket is what we ended up with.

    We have been going to Emeryville, which although is farther away, has a garage.

    We’re all in favor of taxes, and don’t mind doing our share, but we don’t want to feel like we’ve been trapped. Maybe an increase in available time on the meters would be helpful.

    Sandy Bulman

  4. Patrick

    Since when is competition “patently unfair”?

    Lovelle Mixon contributed quite a bit to the “rich history” of Oakland through his crass, flawed and selfish motivations as well, but I’m not rushing to put him on a pedestal either.

    If you’re not mad as hell that a non-citizen of Oakland is rabblerousing while he clearly enjoys the most favorable parking situation of any Oakland business district, you’re just not paying attention.

    I’ll tell you what:: why don’t we work out a deal? The parking around Mr. Michaan’s theater can return to the way it was. In return, Mr. Michaan will agree to forgo police and fire services (which will be trimmed due to the shortfall) for his theater and patrons. That’s fair, isn’t it?

    The problems facing Oakland are very real. Oakland is severely limited in the ways that it can increase revenue. Unless Mr. Michaan can come up with a reasonable alternative, I’d rather he just stick to sounding off via his marquee.

  5. Art

    Definitely agree with Ralph on Grand Lake parking—if anything, raising the parking fees ought to make it less of a headache if in fact Michaan’s fears that people won’t come pan out! (I haven’t seen evidence of this yet, though—still a pain to get a spot last time I drove there.) However, I’d be fine with metering the lot under 580 and the covered parking behind TJ’s (assuming that’s not protected by some sort of agreement with the store) in exchange for dropping meter rates across Grand Lake back to $1.50, since I expect that would net the City as much or more in revenue. (And yes, I do park there from time to time—and find it somewhat appalling that it’s free.)

    But I do think Sandy has a good point—this has always been a problem during the day (so her particular problem isn’t actually new, for what it’s worth; it’s just trickier because there’s heavier enforcement) but I think it’s been exacerbated by extending the meter hours into the evenings, when many more people are trying to do dinner-and-a-movie, etc. I’d actually have no problem with extending the meter limits to four hours; I expect it actually might benefit the city in that people would pay the max and then might not actually stay that long. Since the primary reason for time limits is to keep the spots turning over—and the primary danger to not having limits is that employees or residents might park there—four hours could be a good compromise, particularly if coupled with residential parking zones in any residential areas adjacent to metered commercial districts to protect those spots.

  6. Bob LaMartin

    Patrick on Today,

    To answer your question, this competition is “patently unfair” when it is subsidized by taxpayer dollars. To the best of my knowledge, Mr. Michaan was not subsidized like the Jack London Multi-Drex (though I agree with a previous poster, siphoning off the hoi poloi seems like an advantage which should not be underestimated, although Mr. Michaad would probably disagree).

    As to your comments about contributing to the “rich history” of Oakland by comparing a psychotic killer to Mr. Michaad, I think I will limit my dignification of that comment with this one mostly unresponsive sentence.

    I agree that Mr. Michaad has lobbied hard and gotten a more favorable parking situation than many other Oakland business districts, but if you’re paying attention, that seems like a good argument for lobbying hard for your business district. His is not the only business which benefits, and he is THE anchor business of the entire Grand Lake/Lakeshore business district.

    I have a counter-proposal for the deal you proposed: Whatever you do about the parking situation, every citizen in Oakland can agree (and so far has agreed) to forgo the police and fire services they have already lost, but no one has noticed yet because of the shell game the city is playing with the budget. Their solution is to make sure that the only people who are part of the “game” are the shills and the rubes, while our “independent city auditor” gets a 50% cut to her budget. Step right up folks, it may be crooked, but it’s the only game in town.

    The city budget passed last Tuesday has not yet provided the 739 officers the city is required to fund in order to collect Measure Y taxes, which pay for 63 officers, a matching amount for violence prevention programs, and $4M to OFD. Those officers are now not just un-deployed, they are unfunded as well, and the longer this situation continues, the more the city risks losing the $18-$20M revenues provided by Measure Y for police, fire and violence prevention programs.

    As of today, the city has no legal right to collect Measure Y taxes. I urge anyone and everyone to PLEASE refute my claim, if you can. So far all I have gotten is snoot full of venom and vitriol from the usual suspects and camp followers of the council member cheer leading squad, but no substantive arguments that refute my assertion.

    Thank you in advance.
    Bob LaMartin

  7. Brandon Larson

    “Lovelle Mixon contributed quite a bit to the “rich history” of Oakland through his crass, flawed and selfish motivations as well, but I’m not rushing to put him on a pedestal either.”

    This comment is not germaine to this topic and crosses the line as far as I’m concerned. There were many names you could have chosen besides Mixon’s.

  8. Max Allstadt

    Clarification: Mr. Michaan cannot legally file an Oakland recall petition, nor can his signature legally be counted in the total, nor can he vote. It’s about what’s legally permitted. I believe it’s likely his petitions were unofficial because he didn’t want to explain to the media that he couldn’t sign an official petition because he doesn’t live in our city.

  9. MarleenLee

    I think as a business owner, Mr. Michaan has every right to complain. Even if he doesn’t live here, his business contributes to the Oakland economy and if Oakland wants to increase or even maintain its tax base, it must be willing to listen to the voices of business owners as well as residents. I think that the issue most people are mad about is the increase in hours of operation to 8:00 p.m., not the extra dollar or two people might have to spend. I think there were lots of people who really hadn’t heard about the change and were shocked to get the tickets. I also think that the idea of having to run out in the middle of dinner (or a movie) and feed a meter is very unappealing and definitely could have an impact on business. The fact that people are thinking of solutions to this problem only now is an example of how short-sighted the thinking was to begin with. Just curious – how many other cities have meters that run until 8:00 p.m.?
    The reality is that all the noise Mr. Michaan has made has gotten people’s attention, including the Council’s, and that’s not a bad thing.

    While the budget crunch is impacting lots of government agencies, Oakland really is in a class by itself with how bad things are, and our ineffective and wasteful leaders are largely to blame. Nickel and diming the residents and punishing business owners is not the answer.

  10. lounge lassie

    I work and live in Oakland. I make fairly decent wages, and I thank the good Lord everyday that I still have a good job. I walk, I ride, and I drive. I am not usually one to complain much, but mostly, because I believe that things always manage to work themselves out. Call me an optimist. Regardless, there are just things that the CC approves that are thoughtless or downright stupid. But, hopefully, some of these idiotic ordinances could or should be be reversible.

    Raising the meter rates is one thing – most of us who need access to businesses during the business hours are likely able to afford an additional 50 cents. I am not complaining about this. If it helps the City raise another $0.64M, I’m all for it.

    Extending the parking hours is another. From 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. is when families are able to get together. This is when mom and dad get home and are able to spend some time with the kids – maybe go out and eat at some place reasonable (small business), or maybe go and and watch a good independent movie (small business), or who knows, comic book store, pet supplies store, frozen yogurt shop — all small businesses. These small businesses often front the streets that require metering. They’re not located in strip malls or cineplexes or any other huge developments that offer parking garages.

    I go to the Y on Broadway. I used to pay $112 a month for a two-member family rate. I get off work around 6:00 and can usually find one parking spot somewhere nearby. It takes us around two hours or so to do our thing…so, let’s see, my gym membership is now at least $192 on a short month, or an additional $960 a year.

    The YMCA is family-oriented establishment that offers healthy living standards to everyone from the young and old. The staff there had already started to notice a drop in the number of participants during the traditional “free parking hours”. And, yes, they will start to look elsewhere for their membership. Or worse, they could forego that healthy lifestyle and stay at home and watch TV. At least Comcast hasn’t raised their rates.

    I am not politically savvy enough to respond to the many issues you all brought up. I am not an activist or am I that passionate about anything that could change with the next round of shoe-in candidates. But I care deeply about this city and its denizens, whether they are “from Oakland” or not. I would prefer to eat, shop, visit, patronize small local establishments because I believe that these SLBs are what build and shape and define this beautiful city.

    On a recent post (07/25/09) on budget cuts:
    Begin peak hour parking pilot program: $0.64 million
    Raise expired meter parking fee $10: $0.53 million

    It seems that a little over $1.1M will be raised over these meter rates/penalties. I’m no economist, but a million dollars would hardly put a dent in our City’s deficit (yes, yes, I know, every little bit helps.) But has anyone look at how much our local businesses would stand to lose if people stop frequenting their establishments?

    I already started to look around for another gym membership. After going to the Y for the past eleven years, it seems almost sacrilegious.

  11. Ralph

    I agree Sandy has a valid point. I even emailed members of city council to let them know I agree with the rate increase, but they could have done a better job rationailizing the max hours.

    The example I used with council is Center Stage West a hair salon on Lakeshore. I do not need to tell you that women can easily spend half a day in a salon, but if parking is an hour max we have a problem. The hour max and stepped up enforcement on the TJ could be a problem for their business.

    You give people 4 hours at mkt rate maybe they pay for the max and shop in the district the entire time. Maybe they only use 2 hours but at least they are less stressed about getting in and out to beat the ticket. (I’m betting shopper x would rather pay for unused versus a ticket.) Shopper shops a little more, business collects more revenue, employee keeps a job, no one has to take food from baby’s mouth, the city gets a transit friendly area and increased sales tax revenue, the spot still turns over, everyone is happy and then we repeat.

    And as to siphoning off the hoi polloi, Mr. Michaan might want to take note, just like I am willing to pay more for leg room in an airplane, I will gladly give you a buck or two more to avoid having to sit among a bunch of less than well behaved teenagers. Now if you could just get Hollywood to produce a move I might actually want to see.

    Denver runs their meters until 10. It did not stop people from meeting me in LoDo for dinner.

  12. Jennifer

    I think part of the problem around the theater does relate to Harry Potter — not the quality of the movie, but the length. It’s 2 1/2 hours long. Doesn’t match with 2 hour meters. I wish they’d increase meter times to 3 hours all the way around, then people would have time to run errands and have lunch, or see a movie and grab a bite. I don’t think the rates are really the issue — it’s the extension to 8 pm and the one and two hour meters . . .

  13. Colin

    I think as a business owner, Mr. Michaan has every right to complain. Even if he doesn’t live here, his business contributes to the Oakland economy and if Oakland wants to increase or even maintain its tax base, it must be willing to listen to the voices of business owners as well as residents.

    Nobody is saying he shouldn’t be allowed to say what he wants. Max was pointing out that what he’s saying is silly. Different.

    I would be a lot more sympathetic if Mr. Michaan were getting upset about the situation that brought us here, not the desperate attempt to fix the problem. He is, effectively, complaining that the cast itches when he should really be thinking about how not to break his arm again.

    He’s also very much overstating the case. I think Max made the point very clearly that he doesn’t really know if it’s going to hurt his business or not. He’s just assuming it will, and in protest trying to get his neighbors to hurt their businesses as well.

    I’d also be more sympathetic if he hadn’t gone on at some length about “no blood for oil.” One of the easiest ways to put an end to wars for oil is to stop using it. Cars are currently subsidized in our country because they’re the assumed mode of transportation, and I think owning and operating a car should be much more expensive than it currently is. I have no illusions about everybody leaving their cars at home, but I do think raising the costs will make people reconsider. It’s worked pretty well with smoking.

    He’s operating on the assumption that the city is going after his money, and from what I’ve read on his marquee I wouldn’t be surprised if he thinks it’s literally directed at him personally. That’s great fuel for his personal fire, but it’s not particularly realistic or useful.

    If you’re upset about parking, why not look at how it got that way and start addressing those problems. That would be a hell of a lot more useful.

  14. Bob LaMartin

    Mr. Allstadt,

    I think we understood what you were saying in the original article, but your clarification is helpful. I was only trying to point out that whether or not Mr. Michaad has a “legal” right to file a recall petition, or whether his signature would be counted, or whether he can vote or not, he has the right to make his case and put it before the citizens of Oakland as an Oakland business owner.

    I was making more of a first amendment case, as well as a “paid his dues” case for Mr. Michaad’s right to be pissed off at the current state of affairs in Oakland. Those of us who do have the right to initiate such a petition, sign it, and vote, may want to consider the pros and cons of this course of action. I’d hate to see it done over the parking issue, especially when there are so many better reasons to recall some council members, but if that’s what it takes …

    Keep in mind that the citizens of California were upset enough that their precious cars were going to be taxed at the original rate they had been paying for years, that they went to the trouble of recalling the governor who suggested it, and elected a more “manly man” who did exactly what those who elected wanted him to do. Hardly anyone noticed that the VLF and the VLF backfill was what Oakland used to pay for vital services out of the general fund, which is why California doesn’t have a pot to piss in right now, and why Oakland is getting that streaming video directly from the state.

    You are probably right about the difficulty of getting enough signatures on such a petition, the sheep will continue grazing contentedly while the shepherds take their ten week break. One last hurrah as they try to hit as many NNO parties tonight as they can. I just want to know who drew the short straw and has to come as McGruff.

    Bob LaMartin

  15. Patrick

    Bob: Isn’t the city subsidizing JLS and free parking for Mr. Michaan the same thing? If either is “patently unfair”, then both should go.

  16. SA

    Widely panned?

    Regardless of his other issues, I can see his point about extending the meters until 8pm, even if the cost increase is justified. 2 hours is not enough time to go see many movies (including the 2.5 hour Harry Potter).

  17. bennett

    What I am wondering about now is the enabling legislation that gives the City the right to “control parking…”. Has this potentially been misappropriated so as that it is now in effect a form of taxation? If so, is that permissible per the municipal code?

    If the legislation that granted the City the right to control parking is in fact based on its ordering flow and ultimately, in the theory, for the benefit of its citizens, is it possible that this [code] has therefore been violated?

    Shouldn't the mission of parking control also be sensitive to the merchant community and public at large, not to mention adaptive as things evolve. Isn't the prime mission to aide in the creation of a more robust, pleasant, vibrant experience for all those who interact in our neighborhoods through the control of traffic and parking?

    Somehow, I think the plot was lost along the way, and if they [traffic control] were to be honest, they would have to admit, that their mission is revenue collection and taxation - not making our neighbors more vibrant and pleasant and controlling traffic so as to be more orderly.

    so the question is - is that fair and is that legal?

  18. MarleenLee

    Colin – Complaining about the cast that itches? How not to break his arm? Are you implying it’s his fault that the City is on the verge of bankruptcy? The analogy hardly fits. Also, let’s not pretend that this is about environmentalism and encouraging people to walk and go green and heighten awareness about public transit yada yada yada. It’s about a bunch of bozos who can’t balance a budget and are biting off their noses to spite their faces. While it might be early to say whether increasing meter fees/hours will really hurt business signficantly, from some of the anecdotal posts here, and elsewhere, I think that is a real possibility and it shouldn’t be disregarded. I don’t think the gist of that message is silly at all. While there may be a lot of bluster and hyperbole that goes a long with it, sometimes that’s what it takes to get attention in this town.

  19. Max Allstadt

    While my post was mainly about objections to Mr. Michaan’s tactics, I will posit the following technical question to those who agree with him:

    Where will we find 4 million bucks to cover the budget hole that we’d get if we reversed the parking hikes?

  20. Ralph

    CC and some Measure OO people broke the arm through a number of boneheaded decisions. The cast is council’s fix. What we all should be doing is figuring out how to avoid this situation in the future.

  21. Bob LaMartin

    Mr. Allstadt,

    Another question is where are we going to find the $20M to cover the budget hole created by not being able to collect Measure Y funds, but I realize this is off topic. Perhaps I can post something later that will bring this issue into focus, and put it in both historical and contemporary perspective.

    Patrick on Today,

    I guess I am looking at these “subsidies” as apple’s and oranges, but you may have a point. I would have to look into what the subsidies were to the Jack London 9 Cinemas (I remember it being VERY generous), and what the “subsidy” is for free parking under 580.

    I would argue that once that area that is now a free parking lot stopped looking like a dump and a homeless encampment, local citizens started to realize that there was actually a park there (who knew?), revitalized that park (you know who you are, you incredible splashpad park people!), and that in turn contributed to the parking problem that exists down there, certainly during the Farmers Market on Saturdays, if not at other times.


    I wouldn’t bothering going down that road, the city has the right to collect parking fees, they can raise them as high as they want them without running afoul of any enabling or tax limitation regulation. I can’t cite chapter and verse, but your other points about being fair have merit.

    Bob LaMartin

  22. Colin

    It’s about a bunch of bozos who can’t balance a budget and are biting off their noses to spite their faces.

    If he were upset about this I’d be right there with him. But he’s not. He’s upset because it’s going to cost an additional $1 for someone to be able to spend $12 to see a movie at his theater.

    While it might be early to say whether increasing meter fees/hours will really hurt business signficantly, from some of the anecdotal posts here, and elsewhere, I think that is a real possibility and it shouldn’t be disregarded. I don’t think the gist of that message is silly at all. While there may be a lot of bluster and hyperbole that goes a long with it, sometimes that’s what it takes to get attention in this town.

    Yelling doesn’t make it any more true. I think Max did a fine job taking apart his argument, and until you give a more solid basis for why he’s right I’m not going to be persuaded. Anecdotal arguments are one thing, but I don’t think anybody’s going to “throw the tea in the harbor” because it now costs them $1 more to go out at night.

    If he wants to get riled up over the real issues I’d be supportive. But he doesn’t. His engagement in it begins and ends with what he perceives as his own self-interest.

  23. MarleenLee

    The reality is that most people don’t get riled up about most things unless they are personally affected. Who do you think lobbies the hardest to change laws? It’s just a political reality and I’ve learned to accept it. Bennett and Bob – actually there are laws about how high meter rates (or any “fee”) can go. There have actually been lawsuits over meter rates. (In the only case I could find the taxpayer lost). The general gist is that the fee cannot be higher than necessary to run the program that is being regulated. How you define the “program” is probably open to debate. But this whole idea that you can jack up fees to any point you want to cover a budget deficit that has nothing to do with meter or street maintenance is legally unsupported. Anybody who wants to sue the City and prove that the meter fees and recent increases are not related to the actual cost of running the program is welcome to give it a shot.

  24. Colin

    The reality is that most people don’t get riled up about most things unless they are personally affected.
    If the city made parking free anywhere within 300′ of the Grand Lake he would drop it. The problem would still be there, and worse, but he would have achieved his goal.

    I’m not concerned about his problem (which may or may not even exist), I’m concerned about the bigger problem. He’s doing nothing to address the bigger problem, and likely is uninterested in addressing it.

  25. Bob LaMartin


    I said I didn’t want to cite chapter and verse, but I don’t believe parking meter fees fall under the “general gist” (or even the plain text reading) of the law I believe you may have referenced, which is Proposition 218 from 1996 (please correct me if you were citing a different statute or ordinance). Even if it did, I would venture to say that any municipality would have a pretty good case for saying that the parking places (and the streets that are used to get to them) cost the city more than they collect in parking fees.

    The “whole idea that you can jack up fees to any point you want to cover a budget deficit that has nothing to do with meter or street maintenance…” has complete legal support, I stand by my original statement, they can raise parking fees to any level they want. Anyone who wants to try to sue the city over this is welcome to give it a shot, then you can be the second person to show up on a google search of people who have lost such a case. Try Lexis/Nexis if you really want to do the research.

    What raising parking fees doesn’t have is public support. The comments the council members are getting, plus the cautionary tale I alluded to earlier about Gray Davis, demonstrates that messing with people’s belief in their right to drive and park can cost them their office.

    You can ask Americans to give up their sons and daughters to fight for the oil it takes to run those cars, but don’t ask them to give up their cars. Or try to raise the cost of driving and parking them.

    Bob LaMartin

  26. Ralph

    My chief complaint with Mr. Michaan he wanted to complain and despite claiming to want a solution, he and the many others at the Business Owner Revolt offered nothing. Per their logic, the rate increase is bad for business a rollback would be better. But if you follow this argument to its logical conclusion then free parking is the ultimate solution and would result in the most business.

    Just one flaw in his logic…assume you commute to SF for work. You previously drove as you were nowhere near public transit. You paid the toll, sat in traffic and parked for 8 hrs in SF. You are out of pocket $25/day. Tomorrow Grand Lake parking is free. Smart commuter decides that instead of driving or risking life in the casual carpool, now park at GL, take the bus to Bart and travel to SF all for a fraction of the cost. So Mr. Michaan has won the battle but lost the war.

  27. Ralph

    Forget legality, supply and demand will find a market clearing price which I guarantee you will be significantly less than the amount needed to close the deficit.

  28. Robert

    MIchann has every right to complain because he does operate a business in this city. And frankly, the cc is little concerned with the viability of businesses in the city. Is he right about the impact? Hard to know yet. But I think people are foolish to think that there is no impact, even without the tickets.

    I am not sure that anybody here actually lives with an actual budget for expenses, but if you do you know that spending more on parking does mean spending less on other things. Maybe it means eating lunch out only three times a month instead of four, or skipping going to the movies this month. And if getting back to the meter before you get a ticket means skipping coffee and desert, that is a loss to the business, and the service people employed by the restaurant. While those may all seem like minor things, but a 5 or 10% drop in business is enough to sink some business in good times, let alone times like now where everybody, even the financially secure, are cutting back spending. Is this going to be the end of the world? No. But will it mean that a few more business in Oakland fail that might have survived without the parking changes? Probably.

  29. MarleenLee

    Here’s chapter and verse:

    Sinclair Paint Co. v. State Bd. of Equalization (1997) 15 Cal.4th 866 (Sinclair Paint): (California Supreme Court:) ‘to show a fee is a regulatory fee and not a special tax, the government should prove (1) the estimated costs of the service or regulatory activity, and (2) the basis for determining the manner in which the costs are apportioned, so that charges allocated to a payor bear a fair or reasonable relationship to the payor’s burdens on or benefits from the regulatory activity.’ ” (Sinclair Paint, 15 Cal.4th at p. 878, quoting San Diego Gas & Electric Co. v. San Diego County Air Pollution Control Dist. (1988) 203 Cal.App.3d 1132, 1146, fn. omitted. (SDG&E).)

    (Somehow I doubt that the City has tried to figure out the costs involved here).

    If you want to read the one one parking meter case that went up to the court of appeal (in an unpublished case) google

    Just because there’s one (unpublished) case out there where the taxpayer lost doesn’t mean that what the City is doing now is legal.

  30. Robert

    And Max, maybe the fact the he raised a ruckus and got the free paring earlier validated, in his mind, that being loud and obnoxious would be a successful strategy in getting the parking rates changed. Can’t blame somebody for trying an approach that worked before.

  31. bennett

    Problem is, that the conceptual design and methodology of the parking control system and its operations are not designed to optimize the experience for the shopper, movie goer, diner, nightclub goer, or those commercial establishments.

    However, they SHOULD be.

    It [appears] that they are organized to maximize the revenue extracted from the people who CHOSE to shop, dine, or patronize the neighborhood. It seems to me that this runs contrary to the best interests of the merchants, their sales in general, e.g. collection of sales tax, personnel tax, etc., which makes the Meter-ops run contra to the collection of other taxes. Also, this potentially leads to the destruction of small businesses who may already be on the edge of doom as a result of the “universal no-spend” that has taken over the consumer mind-set.

    I would pick vibrant businesses and more employees over $100 fines and $10./hour meters (which I suppose is where this is headed)

    It [Traffic control] is not even run like a business – eg – in Montclair, they have “blight conditions” wherein the abandoned meter poles remain litered everywhere as physical hazards, that depending on your height, can impact your body with very painful consequences. A litigation is certainly a possibility – so you have to ask – why have they not pulled the poles?

    bottom line is this:

    Unless you have the handicap “Gold pass” – there is just no way to have a leisurely outing/ “shop-till-you-drop” experience, because the background-pressure-fear-factor of the aggressive “Enforcement operations”, who effectively lie in wait to fine you, quash your consumer enthusiasm.

  32. dto510

    The reason the city limits people’s time at a parking space is that, with on-street parking priced far below the market rate, people will waste it (ie sit there longer than necessary). I support relaxing the time limits, but it would take a price higher than $2/hr to be close enough to the market price to ensure turnover. Extending meter times until 8pm will help ensure less waste and more parking availability, and in San Francisco meters now run until 9pm, with the support of merchants. Some Uptown merchants have been agitating for the city to extend meter times there until midnight or later to ensure availability and push off the street cleaning. And why is parking free on Sundays? That makes it really hard to find a space on that busy shopping day.

    For all of those who want free parking, have you ever noticed that the BART stations with free parking never have any, while the stations that charge even a dollar for parking seem to have plenty despite having more users? Food for thought.

    Street parking poses enormous costs to the public – not only does the street have to maintained, but street parking causes huge amounts of traffic congestion and delay, and necessarily precludes wider sidewalks and bike or bus lanes. The city would have to raise its prices to $10/hr or even higher before anyone could make a plausible argument that it’s a tax and not a user fee.

    There is no free parking at malls. The stores pay for it through their rent, and consumers through their purchases. It is expensive and also very inefficient, and risks encouraging unnecessary driving.

  33. bennett

    this is about public perception and brand impressions – and, in general, who pays for the cost of parking is not something a customer thinks about then set out on a buyer trip ( assuming that still happens in 2009).

    However, the quality of experience weighs on the decision as to where to go. Hence, as the burbs, the Creek, Emeryville, Montclair with its parking lot, or, even in SF where you can simply pay Sutter Stockton, a large garage, etc. offer a “fear-free” experience. You do not have to worrry about tickets. The aggressive strategy that is now deploying here, has the potential of swaying buyers away from certain neighborhood- towards areas where they can simply “shop in peace” and whether they lot-pay or not pay – being at least the RISK of $100 tickets is gone.

    Tickets impact people, albeit more subtly, a bit like crime stats.

  34. Bob LaMartin


    Outstanding post! There’s the difference between a bunch of opinionated people whining in our cradles waiting for our mommies to come and soothe us, and a group of people who are trying to educate and learn something from each other (with one exception, I put everyone who has posted so far in the latter category). I guess I need to read the case now.

    I suspect that Sinclair v. State of CA is a prop 218 case, but I confess that is because of the timing, I have no further basis without going to the Law Library and accessing the commentary on your citations. I concur that the city probably has decided that this case falls their way, so they haven’t made the calculation you referred to. And when I say the city, I mean our esteemed City Attorney from Dewey, Foolum and Howe.

    Agreed. Just because there’s one (unpublished) case out there where the taxpayer lost doesn’t mean that what the City is doing now is legal. All my spidey senses tell me that this is the case and no citizen would prevail in such a case, but I concede your point for now and withdraw my snarky comment until I have read both cases. Congratulations on finding my weak spot: facts and logic.

    Bob LaMartin

  35. Colin

    Robert and Bennett – I’m sorry, but I call bullshit. You’re both doing what Michaan is doing – ratcheting up an inconvenience into an outrage based on dubious assumptions.

    Maybe it means eating lunch out only three times a month instead of four, or skipping going to the movies this month. And if getting back to the meter before you get a ticket means skipping coffee and desert, that is a loss to the business, and the service people employed by the restaurant. While those may all seem like minor things, but a 5 or 10% drop in business is enough to sink some business in good times,

    $.50 an hour has magically turned into 5 or 10% of all business income across the board? Never mind that the meters end at 8, so you’d have to catch a 6 o’clock movie to be stuck paying after your film (and not parking across the street, where the theater’s own website directs people to park). You’re doing your best to compound problems that just aren’t there.

    Is this going to be the end of the world? No. But will it mean that a few more business in Oakland fail that might have survived without the parking changes? Probably.

    Give me a single reason to assume “probably”. I don’t know anybody who’s said, “I’d like to go spend $10 to see a move, but that extra $1 I would have to spend to park is too much.” People don’t generally think like that. People don’t generally go to movies that early, either.

    Bennett, you’re operating on the assumption that parking’s going to be $10/hr tomorrow, for reasons I can’t fathom. Then there’s this -

    Unless you have the handicap “Gold pass” – there is just no way to have a leisurely outing/ “shop-till-you-drop” experience, because the background-pressure-fear-factor of the aggressive “Enforcement operations”, who effectively lie in wait to fine you, quash your consumer enthusiasm.

    I’m quite sure nobody is going to be cowering in their basement because they fear $.50. If so, they would have become hermits long, long ago, when parking was no longer a nickel. People don’t do that. Show me any evidence that that’s changed in the last 2 weeks in Oakland, or in any of the places where the fines are higher and enforcement stricter (SF, NYC, Baltimore, Washington DC, Chicago, Seattle, Portland…). Your assumption of generalized paranoia doesn’t pass the sniff test.

    Really. Get a hold of yourselves. I was down on Grand yesterday and it was all parked up and doing fine. The tempest remains in its teapot, and there is no “Oakland parking crisis”, no “war on merchants”.

  36. Ralph

    public perception, really?

    council, although their basis and logic was totally wrong, did something that actually makes sense. could council have implemeted better probably. but at the end of the day I prefer a parking policy that encourages the most people to frequent while discouraging the least. the new policy while not perfect is a step in the right direction.

    High ticket prices discourage squatting but if your max time does not permit you sufficient time to shop then I can see a conflict. So in that respect, relaxing the hours makes sense.

    Call me crazy but it isn’t the parking fee that discourages people from shopping in Oakland, it is the lack of Crate&Barrel, West Elm, Target, A&F etc that force people out.

    And can someone HABO, how are parking fees a regulatory issue like cable?

  37. dto510

    @bennett – Exactly! If parking’s costs aren’t borne by the consumer, then people don’t understand the real cost of parking and waste it / overuse it. I agree the city should be getting its revenue from the meters, not from tickets – it’s unfortunate that the city decided to pair them in such a way that leads to public perception of a gotcha, rather than of sound parking policy.

    Hopefully passions will cool by the time the Council returns from recess and there can be some good discussion of parking policy. There’s a win-win solution here, that benefits merchants, consumers, and the environment.

  38. Bob LaMartin


    Also an excellent analysis of this situation. I think we need to find a balance between the free parking/free lunch dichotomy and the needs of our merchants.

    I personally believe that gas should be artificially maintained at $5.00/gallon by the government (with any excess going to mass transit, bike/pedestrian ways and mitigating the damage done by our addiction to gasoline). I don’t have a problem with driving to your destination being the most expensive, least environmentally responsible, and most difficult choice of last resort. I doubt there is much support for this position, but there it is.


    Continuing in a similar vein, I have to respectfully disagree with your statement that “there is just no way to have a leisurely outing/ “shop-till-you-drop” experience, because the background-pressure-fear-factor of the aggressive “Enforcement operations”, who effectively lie in wait to fine you, quash your consumer enthusiasm.”

    Not if you’re walking or on a bike.

    I live in Glenview, and I consider Glenview, Montclair, Lakeshore and Grand all within walking distance, to say nothing of bicycle distance, which broadens my range to Piedmont Ave, Rockride, Eastlake and downtown. I can walk or bike to all these destinations in less than half hour, and it saves me a gym membership where I pedal a bike that goes nowhere. I might even win a door to door race with someone who has to find parking at their destination.

    Bob LaMartin

  39. bennett

    Colin – thanks for pointing out those aspects, however I think you have missed my point – which centers entirely on customer experience and branding. I assume, for now, the city is not silly enough to raise the rates to $10/hour, nor Steve Martin;s theory that we could solve crime by legislating “Death for parking violations”.

    That said, each ticket creates a negative impression. Yes, the person should feed the meter, they are guilty as charged if it runs out early, they fail if they get caught in conversation or have an extra latte, or fail to pay the amount in advance based on how long they think they will stay and play. Or maybe the meter only accept an hour. Point is that I still cannot have lunch on College without breaking the meal and feeding the meter. And, if I get caught up in a store buying, I have to race out and plug the meter – or maybe instead just skip the purchase and just leave. This effects people by design and cuts stores revenue. The chump change required for the meter is not my point – it is the hassle and the stress.

    Sidebar to this – and sorry if you sniff more BS as you call it, but sadly, Oakland is not like Palo Alto, which is sans meters altogether, and this somehow works. Yes, having Facebook et al helping paying the City coffers makes a diffference. But, It would nice, to see the Chamber and others, find a way to convince the next Twitter or Facebook that Oakland should be the place to launch from.

    Again – the point is quality customer experience – sorry if you think that is BS

  40. bennett

    Bob –
    While your point is well intended, and I would love to walk and bike like I used; however I will be honest with you about walking and biking. While, I would love to, my hip is shot, no joint space, and I am in chronic pain 24/7. Therefore, that is not an option. I could simply buy on line and avoid sales tax altogether ( yet another layer to this at 9.75%), but I would like to shop local, and keep our purchasing in the community

    Further, I have no vested interest in this discussion whatsoever, as my handicap allows me to park free. I cannot tell you how much I would prefer to pay for parking, and risk the tickets, if that were an option, and therefore did not have to live with the chronic pain. I hope that helps put my positions in perspective for you.

    Therefore, my comments are not personal, but the echos of my friends commentaries and my reasoning on how to improve experiences in local neighborhoods – nothing more.

  41. PRE

    Back and forth, back and forth. Seems to me all the CC needs to do is raise the time limit to 3 hours after 5PM and problem is solved.

    As much as I appreciate all that Mr. Michaan has done with the Grand Lake, I don’t understand this particular tempest in a teapot. I know of no other neighborhood shopping district in Oakland with as much free parking, i.e. the under 580 lot. SF has gone to $2 an hour on Polk/Bush for example, and there’s plenty of places in SF that although parking is “free” have a 2 hour restriction until 10PM. I’m thinking of the Castro in particular, and there’s never a lack of people out and about there.

    If you’ve got something people want to see, buy, or experience, parking isn’t going to keep them away, IMHO.

  42. V Smoothe

    For everyone who keeps talking about how the parking hours should be longer – the City is working on this issue already. Kiosks are going to be reprogrammed so you can park for 3 hours between 5 and 8.

    If I had it my way, there would be a 4 hour limit all the time, but you would have to pay $3/hour for the 3rd and 4th hours. Or maybe $2.50 for the third hour and $3 for the fourth. Anyway.

  43. Bob LaMartin

    This is being put out in various forms on neighborhood groups around the city, this is just one of the better versions from the MSIC:

    Bob LaMartin

    We’ve just learned that one of our concerns about the new parking regulations has been addressed. Jean Quan has written to say that the following information is being made official today:

    * The parking receipts issued by the new kiosks are good for the full time no matter where they are bought. This means if you buy a two hour receipt in Montclair and then go to the Dimond within the time period your receipt will be accepted.
    * If you are parked at a meter but have a timed receipt from a kiosk that is still good, the receipt will be accepted. This came up when some of our constituents bought kiosk receipts but were ticketed because they did not plug the meters.
    * Not effective immediately but in process, the kiosks will be reprogrammed so that at the end of the day tickets may be purchased for up to 3 hours, 5-8 pm. This is to allow more time for shoppers who want to catch dinner or go to a dinner and movie without worrying about parking meters.

    So now you can purchase a ticket from any kiosk in the Village and use it not only anywhere in the Village (including those two stand-alone meters on Mountain at La Salle), but you can use left-over time on a ticket anywhere in the City.

    The 8 PM situation remains for now; we’ll continue to work on that one. Thanks to all who’ve offered help and support.

    Roger Vickery, MVA Executive Director

  44. dto510

    Boy are we bringing extraneous issues into the conversation! Yes, the city should do a better job managing our money. Yes, the city should be luring new businesses (both of Twitters’ founders lived in Berkeley until recently, yet the company is in SF, and we totally blew our chance to land Levi’s). Yes, the city should be cleaning up commercial areas more. But parking policy can be, and should be, discussed discretely (and not discreetly).

  45. Bob LaMartin


    Yes, of course, there are many people who do not have the luxury to walk and ride as I do. I think we would have a higher quality of life on so many levels if we all drove less, but that is not an option for everyone, and we must make sure that everyone has mobility and access. The day will come, and it’s not far off, when I may not have the same mobility that I have now, and none of us should forget that (especially me!). I think my main risk right now is getting doored when I ride in the “bike lane” around Lake Merritt, which has happened more times than I can count.

    Having said that, I think that there are more creative options, admittedly long term, that we can apply to this situation. I don’t think parking fees are that big an issue in the great scheme of things, but they provide an easy issue that impacts everyone, and an issue that is relatively easy for people to get their minds around and hot under the collar over.

    I also want to add that if we did make it easier and safer for people who did walk or ride bikes to do so without risking their lives because of vehicle traffic, many solutions would become much more obvious, very quickly.

    Bob LaMartin

  46. Ralph

    so if i am reading this correctly, I can buy a kiosk ticket on Lakeshore do my thang and travel up to Piedmont Ave and waste my remaining minutes. Call me crazy but I see potential issues with this concepts and neither business nor driver is going to be happy. I see this being a problem should the city and merchants ever get their acts together and commence with Business Improvement Districts, which would be direct beneficiaries of parking revenues.

  47. Mike d'Ocla

    This discussion, which certainly has aroused people, points out a couple of important things I think.

    First, that perceptions are very important and that the city of Oakland has not (and largely does not) manage perceptions very well. Parking policy and pricing needs to seem fair to all parties and communication about policy needs to done really well. When there is economic stress, perceived threats can be as upsetting as real threats.

    Second, whether or not specific parking rules and prices by themselves actually affect the economic climate of a business district is arguable and I don’t think can be easily settled. There are too many other factors to include such as the overall neighborhood environment and the mix of activities, economic and otherwise. My guess is that Lakeshore/Grand is going to be economically relatively healthy independent of parking policy.

  48. Robert

    Changing the kiosk to give 3 hours is actually incorrect. The current parking restrictions as posted are 2 hour limits up until 6 PM, which means that you can park at 4 PM, pay 2 hours, come back at 6 PM pay another two hours and not be in violation of the 2 hour limit. So the metering system should be changed to go up to the max time starting at 4 PM.

    Allowing the kiosk tickets to be used wherever is a bad idea, because it eliminates the ability to charge different parking rates in different areas of the city.

  49. Robert

    Colin, please don’t put words in my mouth. And please don’t assume that everybody is as free with your money as you are, or that they think like you do.

    If you ever had to live within a budget, you might realise that at the end of the month, after paying the extra $10 for parking around town 50 cents at a time over the course of the month, you no longer have money in the checking account to pay for that movie you wanted to go to. Many people are skimping now, business are failing because folks aren’t buying, and adding disincentives will make things worse. The only speculation is how much worse.

    There are indeed people who go to the movies during the day, and there are people who head out to dinner before 6 PM.

  50. Colin

    That said, each ticket creates a negative impression. Yes, the person should feed the meter, they are guilty as charged if it runs out early, they fail if they get caught in conversation or have an extra latte, or fail to pay the amount in advance based on how long they think they will stay and play. Or maybe the meter only accept an hour. Point is that I still cannot have lunch on College without breaking the meal and feeding the meter. And, if I get caught up in a store buying, I have to race out and plug the meter – or maybe instead just skip the purchase and just leave. This effects people by design and cuts stores revenue. The chump change required for the meter is not my point – it is the hassle and the stress.

    Nobody wants to get tickets, it’s true. But people still speed and go through stop signs. Getting a ticket doesn’t deter them from that behavior.

    I’m just not buying your hypothesis that this will cause people to become so afraid and paranoid that they won’t go out. You’re making a lot of speculative assumptions that just don’t bear any resemblance to the human behavior I see. Time will tell, but I don’t see the fear of a ticket breaking the local economy.

  51. Patrick

    Personally, I would like to see escalating rates. You want to park for 6 hours? Great. The first hour is $0.75, the 2nd $1.25, the 3rd is $2.00, etc. This addresses the concern about getting a ticket because people are free to pay for the time they actually need without being restricted by a completely arbitrary 2 hour time frame – just like in a parking garage. In that respect, I will agree that a 2 hour limit is unfair to a business owner who provides a service that requires longer than 2 hours. Escalating rates will still encourage turnover, but alleviate concerns about getting a ticket.

  52. Patrick

    Alternately, why not set up toll booths in and out of Alameda? Virtually all vehicles entering or exiting Alameda travel on Oakland city streets at some point, without paying for their upkeep or mitigating their pollution output. This is a subsidy that is “patently unfair”.

  53. Colin

    Colin, please don’t put words in my mouth. And please don’t assume that everybody is as free with your money as you are, or that they think like you do.

    Like most of the people here, I live on a budget an am not as free spending as you assume I am.

    If you ever had to live within a budget, you might realise that at the end of the month, after paying the extra $10 for parking around town 50 cents at a time over the course of the month, you no longer have money in the checking account to pay for that movie you wanted to go to.

    If things are so tight that you have to choose between parking or going to a movie I think you have a lot bigger financial problems. When I’ve been in that situation, I didn’t go to the movie. If ten bucks would have made or broken me, I wouldn’t have spent it regardless.

    But that case is so extreme that it likely represents a minor fraction of the Oakland population.

    You’re trying to frame the problem in much more dramatic terms than reality will bear. Businesses aren’t going to suffer massive losses because parking meters got more expensive. There are plenty of other cities whose example proves this is the case. I think Mike d’Ocla is right that there are a lot of factors that could be involved, but that $.50 an hour cannot be conclusively cited as the cause of financial ruin of the Grand Lake district, or that there is a pending financial collapse there.

    Michaan does the same thing when he claims that there are empty storefronts all over Grand because parking has gone up from $.50 to $2.00 over the last decade. Reality does not bare this out. Not only aren’t there any vacant storefronts in Grand Lake, but there’s no evidence of a causal connection between business revenue being down and parking rates being up. You’re speculating, and your doing it based on your worst assumptions.

  54. Dave C.

    Colin, there actually are several vacant storefronts on the block of Grand stretching alongside the GL Theater (the block between Lake Park and Mandana), on both sides of the street. Some have been vacant for months now. I disagree with Michaan about parking meter rates, but he’s right that there are a lot of empty storefronts on Grand — I haven’t counted, but it wouldn’t surprise me if there are 4 or 5 on that one stretch (I can think of 3 off the top of my head). The corresponding stretch of Lakeshore also has 2 or 3 empty storefronts, and Lake Park also has a couple at the moment, between Lanesplitter and the Serenader.

  55. Robert

    Colin, you continue to misstate/misinterpret/misrepresent what I say. You also are speculating, in your case that nothing bad will come of the hike. And you are refusing to acknowlege that other people may respond differently than you do.

    There is at least on empty store front on Grand, and I think several more. There are 8 listed on Lake Park and lakeshore, athough one may have been recently filled by Lanesplitters. I will see if I can get addresses tomorrow.

  56. Dave C.

    Lanesplitter actually took over the 4-star pizza (or was it 5-star?) location almost immediately, so it never really stood vacant in between. But the storefront immediately to its left is vacant (a Rotisserie place of some sort that was being renovated for a little while, but seems to have been abandoned months ago) and the storefront to the left of that, where the Grand Lake Neighborhood center was located, is also sitting empty as of a couple of weeks ago.

  57. SA

    <iThe reason the city limits people’s time at a parking space is that, with on-street parking priced far below the market rate, people will waste it (ie sit there longer than necessary).

    Maybe someone can help me understand this.

    They will waste it… doing what?

    If I pay for parking, do an errand, and realize I have time left, I might… buy a coffee or a drink at a local business. I might stop in a store I’ve never been to before. I might window-shop for a while.

    Those are activities that are benefitting the business district, and the tax base.

    If I pay for parking, do an errand, and have to move my car, I will get in it and go home 99 times out of 100, rather than walk back to wherever I parked it, pay more at the meter (which technically is illegal – I should move it), and then go do some leisurely something-or-other.

    This is bad for the business district, and the tax base.

    What is the assumption that people are doing when they are “misusing” these metered spaces?

  58. Ralph

    I wouldn’t go so far to say there are no vacant storefronts in Grand Lake – Baby Gap and some store on Lakeside come to mind. But BG has been shuttered for quite some time and that other store (by Lanesplitter) probably a victim of the changing neighborhood. Still the case of the death of Grand Lake has been greatly exaggerated.

    I would be in favor of graduated rates. It is a balancing act. I don’t think the city wants to live off the fine as much as it wants to discourage a certain behavior, which is achieved with graduated pricing.

    Assuming I have two classes of shopper, turbo and casual, Turbo shopper will pay the additional amount for the 3rd and 4th hours, because he is going to shop away. He continues to shop and bring in more sales tax revenue. Mr. Casual shopper is just wandering about and never had any real intention of buying. He doesn’t want to spend the add’l dollar + to park so it moves along to make way for another shopper.

    We are all on fixed incomes, or so I believe, but to set prices at what you think people can pay is not sound economic policy.

    Council fumbled the ball. When they come back in September they should just contact us re: parking policy. I am pretty sure we can figure it out for them and explain our new policy in a way that is easy to understand and for people to accept.

  59. Dave C.

    Addendum to my comments just above this one. The blogger at New Oaktown counted the empty storefronts or “For Lease” signs on Grand and Lakeshore in the last day or two, and my estimates above were even more conservative than I thought they were.

  60. MarleenLee

    I disagree with DTO510 that parking policy needs to be viewed discretely. I think it is inextricably intertwined with a lot of the other issues people have raised here.

    I don’t necessarily think it is fair to compare Oakland with the Castro or with the price of gas. Yeah, the Castro has a lot to see and do, and people want to go there. Oakland already has a horrible image and there are lots of people who don’t want to live here/come here. Making it even more inhospitable by its parking policy was hardly a good move. And if you raise the price of gas, it probably would be a good source of revenue because of relatively inelastic demand – people just don’t have a lot of options, and will continue to drive. But shoppers in the East Bay have lots of options, in lots of towns of which offer free and readily available parking, or on line (oh, and there goes the green argument – people will get in their cars to avoid the hassle of Oakland).

    One of the arguments is that Mr. Michaan is motivated by self interest. Well, so are shoppers,as are people in general. No crime in that. And if people are afraid of parking tickets, high prices of meters, not to mention crime, they’ll just stay away from Oakland, period, and who can blame them?

    As for graduated rates – I think that’s probably too complicated. Who wants to pull out a calculator to figure out how much they’re going to need for parking? The City was horribly short-sighted and out of touch with huge segments of the population on this issue, and who would want to run a business or live in a town where officials are so out of touch? Tactics like this drive down property prices, deter business, force business to move elsewhere etc. Is it worth it?

  61. Ralph

    SA, assume parking is free all day and there are two stores on the street – a 1700 sq ft Peets and a 300,000 sq ft IKEA . Everyone who comes to the district drives. You are either a coffee drinker or an Ikea uyer and no one is both. Coffee drinkers like to get up early drive to the Peet’s and enjoy coffee, the paper, and hours socializing with friends. Ikea shoppers tend to get up a little later.

    By the time the furniture shoppers are up, Peets customers have occupied all spots. 100s and 1000s of drivers coming great distances because they love this Ikea but hard to find a park. Every so often, a driver may snag a parking spot freed up by a departing Peets customer but it is infrequent. Eventually because there is some value to the driver’s time, and it was not meant to be spent driving around the block looking for a park the driver goes elsewhere.

    Average sales per sq ft Peets $765 at IKEA $310. So during the course of the year Peets does $1.3M in sales. Ikea would have done $90M but lack of parking resulting in $0. Tell what would you rather have free all day parking and $1.3M from Peets or market priced parking and $90M from Ikea and $1.3M from Peets

    The parking space was wasted.

  62. Colin

    Colin, there actually are several vacant storefronts on the block of Grand stretching alongside the GL Theater (the block between Lake Park and Mandana), on both sides of the street. Some have been vacant for months now. I disagree with Michaan about parking meter rates, but he’s right that there are a lot of empty storefronts on Grand — I haven’t counted, but it wouldn’t surprise me if there are 4 or 5 on that one stretch (I can think of 3 off the top of my head). The corresponding stretch of Lakeshore also has 2 or 3 empty storefronts, and Lake Park also has a couple at the moment, between Lanesplitter and the Serenader.

    You’re right – there are vacant spaces. My mistake. But the only ones I can think of on that stretch of Grand have been there for a long time. 3-Day Blinds, which has been vacant forever, and the matress place that used to be CycleSports and has also been vacant for a long time. I know a bit about the building CycleSports used to be in, and I’d say the landlord has a lot to do with that space being vacant, but that’s another story.

    Maybe I’m missing some buildings somewhere? I’ll go down Thurs and check.

    I’d call that a relatively low vacancy rate. 2 spaces out of dozens. Michaan said the following about the situation:

    Years of escalating parking fees and fines have succeeded in driving away many of our customers. Today, storefront vacancies abound on Grand Avenue. There are always many unused parking spaces on the street during daytime hours as our customers have gone elsewhere.

    I would say that’s a huge overstatement, in fact, and his diagnosis of the cause doesn’t make sense. In the decade of increasing parking rates, I would say that the situation has gotten better, not worse. I moved into the neighborhood in 2000, when parking was $.50 an hour – the rate he’d like to see it returned to – and there were more vacancies then, in addition to flimsier businesses. I’d say the block has stabilized as well, with some long-running businesses that have kept at it.

  63. Colin

    Colin, you continue to misstate/misinterpret/misrepresent what I say.

    I don’t think I’m misrepresenting what you say. Perhaps I don’t understand your points as you’ve made them, but I’m not trying to misrepresent you. As I understand what you’ve said, I disagree with you, and don’t see the data to back up your point in the same way I don’t see the data to back up Mr. Michaan’s point. I also see it as a less-than significant issue.

    But I think I’ve been pretty clear about that.

  64. ken


    When the double decker embarcadero freeway was removed from san francisco’s eastern shore, property values jumped 300%+.

    So I don’t think that removing parking or raising the cost of it is lowering property values. Quite the opposite. (can you say that Tokyo, London, NYC or SF have low property values because parking is uber expensive there?)

    You all should check out the book “The high cost of free parking.”

    “Free” parking is like “free” ways. Neither is free and there are (negative) windfall consequences to offering both. I’d call it a shitfall in an urban core area. “let them take the transit they’ve boohooed for decades.”

    PPIC’s latest CA survey on environment shows that ever more Californians support investing in public transit. up to 70% or so now. and boy is the age of the car ending sooner than we think. adapt or die.

    we need more bike parking. in one car space, you can fit how many bicycles? seattle does this, portland does this. it’s a voluntary program and cafe owners really dig it.

    welcome to Calimbodia.

  65. ken

    various ppl say the ONLY reason you “need” a car in oakland is for security reasons. and sadly that’s true.

  66. Born in Oakland

    Yes Marleen, Michann is motivated by self interest as we should all be and are if you ever took Poli Sci 1A. You will be more self interested about parking when you have two kids and work and have a spouse and need to pick up some vacuum bags after stopping at a grocery store and picking up the kids from day care and going to the ATM to pay the baby sitter for tonight’s rare outting with your tired and and overworked spouse. Try leaving your car behind and biking or taking AC Transient under those circumstances. And if Michann decides to leave the Grand Lake because too many environmental studies and armchair urban planners are hammering him then bye -bye neighborhood. Maybe an evangelical church which only holds services on Friday night and Sunday morning at that site would be appropriate, but then churches don’t pay taxes. Now that would be true enlightened self interest but not the kind the City is looking for.

  67. Max Allstadt

    Michaan isn’t going to leave. That’s just more bluster. Remember, he couldn’t take his sign with him! And despite what people say about the Grand Ladke being the anchor of the neighborhood, it isn’t. It’s a beautiful theater, a triumph of restoration and preservation. But the anchors are Trader Joes and Safeway. They’re daily/weekly use places for surrounding neighbors.

  68. Patrick

    I don’t see how graduated meter pricing would be confusing. At the kiosks, you enter the amount of time you need, not how much you want to spend. The computer figures out the cost for you.

  69. bennett

    just spoke with a Fire Dept inspector – who reported another layer of problem with the CIty on the machines –
    1) they cost10K each
    2) they are being vandalized and having all kinds of repair problems – each problem is at least “hundreds of dollars”
    3) in other cases, people are ramming them to make off with the cash or just “because”
    4) The abandoned poles are causing other concerns – and some injuries

    does seem logical that they could manage the parking more like the way a parking garage does – which includes the graduated rates – penalizing people {via ticketing} for “making a day of it” in a shopping district is not the ideal strategy for the merchant community.

    Union Square works in part because there is ample parking – and, it is graduated – cost more as you stay longer – but you can at least go there, get lost for the day and “shop till you drop” and dine away – if that is your thing…

  70. MarleenLee

    Here’s a link to a an interesting article on how parking meters are so antiquated, and how other countries have systems that are cheaper, more efficient and much easier to modify than these clunker parking meters. How much is it going to cost to reprogram them for three hour time limits? Or reprogram them all back to 6:00 p.m. when the council realizes this was a dumb idea? Remember Edgerly’s nephew the parking meter repairman who made $70k a year? Get rid of the meters altogether and adopt one of these European systems and save a fortune.

  71. John Klein

    The Grand Lake Theater is, in fact, the visual and aesthetic anchor for the Grand / Lakeshore Ave. commercial areas. Perhaps TJ’s and Safeway are economic drivers in the area, but comparing the theater in this way is an “apples to oranges” comparison that misses the significance of the Grand Lake Theater for Oakland.

    The visual aesthetic of the Grand Lake Theater provides an undeniable and unique sense of place for the Grand Lake area, and for Oakland generally. There is only one Grand Lake Theater and it is here, in Oakland. People are endlessly attracted to the large neon signs and the quirky political messages. This is why there are more than 750 pictures of the theater on Flickr but only 75 or so of Trader Joe’s (many of which have nothing to do with TJ’s.)

    The theater provides a sense of place and history to Oakland in ways that Safeway and Trader Joe’s simply cannot.

  72. David

    You *need* a car in Oakland due to the paucity of walkable neighborhoods. The bus? Come on. Unless you make $5/hour, your time is worth more than waiting interminably for busses that never come. Never mind the whole grocery shopping + bus trip issue. Yes, if you’re single you can schlep it. The instant you have a family, no.

    For all those who will disagree. yes, Temescal is walkable. Yes, Grand Lake is walkable. Rockridge? Sure. Now, how much of Oakland is not Grand Lake, Rockridge or Temescal…um..most of it.


  73. SF2OAK

    I support Mr. Michaan’s outrage at the parking situation. OAK is ripping parkers off in several ways and they are uncompetitive with other areas (Emeryville, the burbs) and make OAK an unfriendly place to patronize what OAK needs to vitalize: all businesses. How is OAK ripping parkers off? The kiosks generally say that parking is $1.25 hour in print but the rate is $2- there should be no contradictory instructions. Parking control officers will give you a ticket if you use a kiosk ticket that is not from the nearest kiosk- who would ever assume that and it is not stated on the kiosk- why is that OAK has derived the revenue who cares where you bought the ticket- this is just a blatant rip off. The kiosk’s (and meters for that matter) make you buy time in advance and doesn’t refund you if you buy too much (and penalize you way out of proportion if you buy too little.) OAK could use a system where you have a fasttrack like device in your car and start it when exiting your car and it would debit your account and stop it when leaving the space so you pay for what you use. It is outrageous that you should have to pay an hour forward only to find that your errand cannot be run or is completed in a much shorter time all under the threat of a $55 ticket. What are my other complaints- How is it that Administrative reviews of tickets take months while OAK expects its fees in 21 days- I would say that if the tickets are not reviewed in a timely manner like the 21 days they give you to pay then the tickets should be expunged. OAK is giving far too many tickets for their back office to handle. If you do happen to appeal a ticket it is my experience that they do not tell you the reason they have judged in their own favor. I am also pretty sure that if you do decide to contest that finding that it is a cumbersome process and will take time- it is an absolutely unfair and untimely system in OAK’s favor. Another gripe is the outsize fines- why should a fine on a $2 per hour item be $55? The penalty is not in relation to wages where min. wages are $8 an hour why should a fine be almost 7 times that amount? Outrageous.

    The argument that it is either parking or police or fire is absurd- the argument should be that OAK City Council will have less to spend on something but not specifically fire or police protection. Why is it not higher parking rates or fewer mayoral staff or less city council members pay or fewer staff or reduced parking control officers? OAK government is not efficient, does not measure departments efficiencies, and does not spend our tax dollars getting the most bang for our buck.

    I just went shopping in Emery Bay Public Market- meters on the street charge $1 per hour and they operate 24 hours a day, the street is clean and patrolled by security and the parking garage is $2 for the 1st 3 hours. A parking control officer once put a notice on my wife’s car that she had overstayed her visit and reminded her please not do that but there was no ticket or fine. How happy and good that made her feel. Just think when people visiting our city get a fine, they won’t be coming back so readily unless absolutely necessary and if we chase the reeason’s to return, like visiting unique businesses.

    I predict that more handicapped placards will appear, business will have less revenue and the city’s retail business will suffer.

  74. Born in Oakland

    Sorry, y’all but installing failsafe kiosks will not solve the problem of non-competive parking with other areas…Alameda, Emeryville. In addition, the City or it’s sub contractors could not effectively maintain and monitor them. As an example, the median strip on E;18th by Lucky’s and Lake Merrit Bakery was planted and irrigation was installed some years ago. The system immediately broke or was not turned on; aftter the Merchants Assoc okayed $5,000 for the system. Upon complaining, the city ( through then Councilman Henry Chang) came up with another $5,000 for re-landscaping and irrigation. Three months after completion, the system failed again, the plants died and look at it now. Give me a break, the track record for the City is bright ideas and piss poor excution. I wish it were not so and I do believe the Council is generally well-intentioned. But they are swimming upstream against a bloated and de-moralized bureacracy….. “Don’t do anything well, work too hard or change the system, you might get punished.”

  75. Naomi Schiff

    I had been thinking they should just change it to 7 am to 7 pm, so people wouldn’t have to feed meters during dinner/movies.

    Also worth thinking about, thank you, V:
    If I had it my way, there would be a 4 hour limit all the time, but you would have to pay $3/hour for the 3rd and 4th hours. Or maybe $2.50 for the third hour and $3 for the fourth. Anyway.

    “For all those who will disagree. yes, Temescal is walkable. Yes, Grand Lake is walkable. Rockridge? Sure. Now, how much of Oakland is not Grand Lake, Rockridge or Temescal…um..most of it.”

    you need to get out more. There are many more walkable neighborhoods than you think! Try the Oakland Heritage Alliance walking tours, or look at the Walk Oakland map.

    What do you mean by walkable, I wonder? What about:
    Piedmont Avenue, Old Oakland, Chinatown, Uptown, Produce Market/Waterfront Warehouse/Jack London area (if you watch the cars), Fruitvale/International Blvd., Fruitvale/Dimond area, parts of MacArthur near Mills, Laurel District, Montclair, Fifth Ave. artists’ colony, Glenview, Jingletown (if you like artists’ workplaces), Adeline/Alcatraz, Claremont Ave., and there are many more! Places become walkable when we walk to and in them. Let me know if you want to take a stroll!

  76. John Klein

    I don’t mind paying for parking. I like the new machines, but dislike that paying at the kiosk will not work for a space where the coin-op meter is broken. I got a parking ticket for that and lost when I contested it.

    I was recently in Calistoga on a Sunday afternoon. The meters were operative then and there was an officer walking the streets and ticketing for meter violations – yes, Sunday early pm.

    The days of free parking in the City structure by TJ’s on Lakeshore Ave. are probably numbered…..

  77. David


    I’m talking about a neighborhood where you can live and walking around will fulfill your every day needs, and preferably won’t get shot or mugged. That crosses out any of the art areas and Fruitvale, Uptown, MacArthur near Mills, and is dangerously close to crossing out the Laurel and Glenview.

    Try walking to and from the Montclair shopping district with a couple gallons of milk and some cereal. Hills are lovely to walk in and around, but darned inconvenient for running errands on foot or bicycle.

    As for Jack London, Old Oakland etc. Again, I suppose that’s walkable, just not many people living near there to walk to it and back to their abodes. Chinatown is walkable. I’m not Chinese and probably will never live there due to that fact.

    Of all the ‘hoods in Oakland, I’d say the Grand/Lake is the most walkable…with TJ’s and Safeway you get your food, can walk to get some clothes, baked goods, restaurants, farmers’ market etc.

    By way of comparison, in my old hood in Chicago there was a TJ’s almost across the street, a few bars, antique shop, a drug store, bank, library, ball park, kids’ parks, restaurants, a couple clothes & furniture stores, a couple cafes, and an actual commuter rail stop along with a couple ‘L’ stops. That’s a walkable ‘hood. Again, only thing that compares is Grand/Lake and Rockridge, and maybe Temescal (although Temescal is much less safe).

    Oakland’s fine, especially now that buying a house is cheaper than in my old Chicago ‘hood, but I don’t consider most of it to be walkable AND livable for me…


  78. Izzy Ort

    Grand Lake Theater c1920 –

    I’m straining to read what it says on the far left of the marquee. I think it says “Justice Denied in Massachusetts. Free Sacco & Vanzetti Now!”

  79. bennett

    Of interesting note – in San Francisco, on shopping mecca Union Street – known for both high rent, abundant meter maids, as well as the generally affluent – this post on SFCURBED blog – documents the TWENTY NINE (29) vacant stores fronts now available.

    Point is that the small business/merchant situation circa 2009 – is truly on dangerous ground, hanging by a thread – and every form of “BUY LOCAL NOW” support is needed to keep the vitality of our communities intact as this economic storm blows through the Country.

  80. SA


    OK, your hypothetical about the IKEA and the Peet’s with free parking is interesting, as are your hypothetical shoppers. However it doesn’t resemble any of the retail areas in Oakland I can think of. It certainly doesn’t resemble Grand Lake.

    And I’m not advocating for free parking, but perhaps for longer limits (3-4 hours?) to make a leisurely meal, or a long movie, or some window shopping, more feasible.

    So can somebody talk about this “misuse” of parking spaces in a way that actually relates to the retail area under discussion? I’m still not seeing it.

  81. Ralph

    David, dude, I know not where you live. Not even sure it is Oakland, but if you don’t think Uptown is walkable, then it is clear that you have spent little to no time in Uptown.

  82. Daniel Schulman (das88)

    I think Naomi is right that the meter hours should be shifted one hour earlier to 7am – 7pm. In fact, I mentioned the same idea just last night to some of the local rabble-rousers.

    I think some businesses would see real benefit by having an earlier meter period. Back in my youth when I foolishly drove a car to work every week day, I would sometimes stop at a local java spot to grab a cup a joe to go. Many times, though, I would be unable to find close parking for a quick in and out because of all the overnight parking squatters.

  83. Ralph

    Why is it that I knew that my simple example would be lost on the unwashed masses. Doesn’t anyone sit in an economics class. Ugh. The basic idea behind wasting a parking space is not all dollars and shoppers are equal. So I will try this with a more different example.

    For ease of explanation, I am going to assume that all parking is free. Someone who drives to Grand Lake and spends all day in a parking space while sipping one cup of coffee effectively reduces the available supply of parking by one space. As more people do that, it becomes harder for people who drive to the district to shop The Gap to find a parking space. Sales revenue lost $4.2M (Avg sq ft of a Gap Store 12,500, sales per sq ft (2008) $336.

    As people value their time more than they value free parking they will opt to go elsewhere. Does this help you?

    PS: I use free parking because it is easier to illustrate the point.

  84. SF2OAK

    I think bringing in Union St. is pretty far fetched, except for the fact that retailers are hurting and neighborhood retailing is hurting even more than larger stores. There is no doubt in my mind that Union St. landlords could rent their stores but the asking rents are extremely high- they could lower the rents. Union St is almost world class. You really only need to look here at Lakeshore, which is pretty fully tenanted, Grand which has too many vacancies and Piedmont Ave which also has too many vacancies. Bottom line retailers are hurting, so the city enacts a policy that clearly hurts retailers, even if it is only from the outcry of Michaan and the bad press OAK experiences but I think it clearly does hurt retailers. I have heard from several SF friends who have recently received tickets in OAK that they won’t return to OAK anytime soon They did not roll this out in a thoughtful way. OAK needs more unique retail stores that’s where jobs, revenues, positive lifestyle and exciting streets create demand which lifts us out of real estate depression. What CC did is covering up for their bad government policies of many years – like overspending, misspending bond $, bad union contracts, bad tax policy (why does OAK have a gross receipts tax where Emeryville does not.)

  85. Robert

    Maybe everybody on both sides would be less worked up about the parking if there were still reliable streetcars running down Grand, that you can see the tracks for in the 30′s photo linked by bennett above.

  86. Ralph

    SA, this example may be easier for you to understand. You mentioned “window shopping” as something you like doing.

    Using that as my jumping off point assume that you have two classes of shoppers window shoppers and buyers. Window shoppers do just that window shop; they never buy. Buyers spend hundreds of dollars on goods every time they leave the house.

    No one minds spending a $1.50 to park so everyone floods to the shopping district. If 95% of the parking spots are always occupied by window shoppers at some point due to the lack of available parking, buyers are going to get tired of driving to the district, sales will fall and businesses close.

    If you increase and graduate the rate, window shoppers will opt out of paying the graduated fees. As a result, parking space turnover and make room for buyers.

  87. Ralph

    I am beginning to to believe it is not the lack of stores or the perception of high crime that will keep good people from moving to Oakland, it is the complete lack of council to do their duty. PK is right that council should not have used parking as a revenue generating measure. She should have womaned up and been honest it is good public policy and sad she will work with merchants to develop a better pricing strategy that works for all. But dog forbid the pinheads at FOP actually do something that makes sense.

  88. Naomi Schiff

    Speaking of not making sense, there’s something awry with Ralph’s last post.

    Further walkable neighborhoods: Adams Point. Lakeside Apt. District. And not true that no one lives in Jack London area. Haven’t you seen all those apartments and condos going up? And, I find it pretty useful to have Chinatown to shop in. We do own a car, but it sometimes sits for a week because from our “unwalkable” neighborhood we can do so much of our activity on foot, bus and BART.

  89. livegreen

    Vivek, Thanks for posting this. Though I’m not sure I get the impression that IDLF might be moving towards some compromise too. I think they’ve heard the public loud & clear.

    On the other hand I think it’s ridiculous that people say they’ll drive to Emeryville, Berkeley, or Walnut Creek to shop or eat because they have to put an extra $0.25, $0.50, $1, $2, or $3 in the meter. Compared to the budget problems Oakland is facing, as well as local merchants and their employees, for people who have that option to say that shows an utter lack of understanding, caring or compassion. (Esp. given the free parking that abounds, and that they’ll have to pay that much or more driving there, and finally that in the end it’s a small % of their total expenditure).

    That said, the City Counsel poured a lot on at once, and the enforcement has been getting a little over-the-top. Ticketing people on narrow streets where people can’t park on either the sidewalk OR in the street creates a Catch-22. Many meters have broken credit card machines. & when there’s a broken meter kiosk there’s nobody at the other end of the tel. line, and the appeals get rejected.

    IF the City Counsel addresses these issues, along with at least a partial rollback of the hours, Oakland citizens should be willing to do their part and contribute to the public good. Those that aren’t should examine not just the City Counsel’s but also their own priorities…

  90. Carlos Plazola

    For all the progressives out there who are mad about the increase in parking fees:

    Everyone does realize that the entire car-based economy is subsidized in every way, right? That the cost externalization associated with auto use is tremendous? That if we wanted to pay the real price for gas (including all the costs we pass on to the environment, to people’s lungs, etc) the cost would be way above $5 per gallon.

    And parking would cost a hell of a lot more than it currently does.

    It drives me crazy when “progressives” sell out their values when it conflicts with personal comfort and their wallets. Want to save the Earth? Don’t just talk about it, or pick up littler on Earth Day, or put some BS feel-good slogan on your marquee! Pay the increase in parking fees without complaining, in recognition that we must start paying the real cost of driving if we’re ever to move away from a car-based reality.

    I say we boycott the Grand Lake Theater. I, for one, won’t go there anymore.

    Council, raise our parking fees to $3 per hour, and make it Monday through Sunday, 7 AM to 8 PM, and then fight to get our gas prices raised after that!

    Come on folks. Let’s get real.


  91. Ralph

    Naomi, what is awry? Including the Measure OO debacle, it seems like council has a tendency to make policy based on public sentiment, not what is sound policy.

    No council member supported Measure OO but no council member actively compaigned against for fear of being seen as being against kids. They need to man or woman up. A while back council wanted to identify what should be the city’s core services. if they keep bending over to the unwashed masses they will do everything nad nothing.

  92. Born in Oakland

    Y’all are missing the point, increased fees for lousy city services (even during boom times) is not going to cut it. While many people who post on these blogs appear smart, they merely tested well in college and never got over their pedantry. My neighbors in the flatlands shop in Alameda, Berkeley and Emeryville. they long ago gave up on Oakland ‘s restrictive and punitive poilicies with regards to parking and access. The fees for parking garages in the downtown wasteland is a joke. And now the meters are going up as well. It’s why the sidewalks roll up at night, if anyone would venture there. Try hanging near AC Transient bus stop at 12th or 14th and Broadway or the nearby Burger King after City Hall campuses shut down at 5 pm and all the “smart people” employed there go home. Want your out of town friends to hang out at the Civic Center Bart station at night while you go to pick them up? The point is, I would support higher fees if we the citizens could be sure we were to get the service other commnunities receive as a matter of course. This has not been historically the case, nor will it be in the future. And for middle- aged posters, anti car dreamers, picture yourself an attractive 20 something woman walking in downtown Oakland or exiting BART and walking home about 10 blocks. Do you appreciate the subtle violence towards women which the English language can conjugate? But then, y’all tested well in college and remain oblivous to the cold hard facts of Oakland’s streets. To many young women in our “community” to feel safe, they need to drive in a car.

  93. Dave C.

    How dare you say such things, Carlos?! Don’t you know that the right to drive and park one’s automobile inexpensively is enshrined in the Constitution?

  94. Ralph

    BiO, I think it is possible for Oakland to get the services that it deserves, however, the electorate has to vote for people who have the courage of their convictions to do what is right when every numbskull disagrees with them. So far they haven’t. We don’t have leaders. With few exception, we have elected voters who bend to the ill-advised will of the people. I will omit my usual rant about the stupidity about voting for Dellums. I lived in DC when those whack jobs re-elected Barry. I saw what a trainwreck that was and I saw this one coming. We need new leadership, leadership that actually leads. Dellums for his part is just trying to collect a pension to replace his Fed pension which was decimated by his first wife.

  95. Born in Oakland

    I get it now, higher fees and an anti-automobile stance will discourage the great unwashed and uneducated masses from frequenting the new urban hipster and elderly hippy enclaves of Oakland. Sweet ploy!

  96. Ralph

    BiO, I have a trademark on unwashed masses. Feel free to use uneducated masses as much as you like. :)

    More seriously, I think Oakland needs to be smarter about the fees they charge. Heck, having a library fine does not prevent one from checking out a book but not having your library card limits you to checking one book at a time. Why would anyone ever pay a library fine?

  97. Born in Oakland

    Ralph, agreed, why pay business tax or parking tickets? I know plenty of apartment owners who never have paid bus tax. Others rent out expanded units which have never been declared. There is opportunity for a revenue stream if existing regulations were enforced. Have suggested same to Pat Kernighan.

  98. SA

    Ralph, if you can’t make your point without insults or resorting to extreme hypotheticals that presume absolute conditions (when I windowshop, I am *more likely to buy something* than if I get in my car and drive home – in fact it ‘s a terrible habit because it leads to spending money I didn’t plan on!), I’m not sure I can get excited about your point of view.

    If your point falls apart if you can’t illustrate it with free parking or discrete categories (people who buy NOTHING versus people who buy LOTS), it’s not a very solid point. :-/

  99. Ralph

    SA, I am sorry you have never spent time in an economics class but that that is the reason I started each example with “assume”. To make a point, most examples in an economics class start off with “assume.” The most famous example that I can think of is oppty cost with guns and butter.

    CC is not trying to make a policy that suits your individual needs. Rather it should meet some public policy objective and have some rational basis. Would you feel better if I forwarded you studies that address this matter?

    And if you don’t like free, try $1.50 per hour. It is the same, window buyers have no problem driving to the shopping district and spending an $1.50 to park. They may or may not buy. If they do it is gravy for the shop owner. But if you raise the price to $3/hr windowbuyers may think twice about going to the shopping district. However, the person who is about to drop $500 is not overly concerned about spending $3 to park. Meat for the shop owners. Now, let me ask you, if you were the shopowner, would you rather have the meat or the gravy? happy. now get thee to an economics class.

  100. David

    Ralph, dude. One of the times I got mugged was Saturday at NOON in Uptown.

    Again, walkable for me means a neighborhood I’d actually LIVE in, and walk in without the chance of getting mugged or shot. (good friend of mine was shot in the back in another “walkable hood” while riding his bicycle, thankfully he was fine).

    Grand/Lake is very nice, but again, when I was living there, a guy was shot around NOON on a Saturday or Sunday at the local gas station.

    Contrast this to my ‘hood in Chicago where the worst crime in my years living there was ONE of my bicycles got ripped off. Unlike Oakland, where I’ve had at least 3 stolen (one off of BART downtown, one off of my SECOND story balcony), and one during another mugging.

    Maybe I’m just walking around with a big target on my back, but you might understand why I don’t consider Uptown walkable. Or the other crime magnets, aka Fruitvale.

    I know this is an Oakland-boosting website, but be honest with yourselves, the “walkable” areas of Oakland, even IF you expand to include all your areas, the “walkable” areas are easily less than half of the city. Take a look at a map. Nearly all of Montclair, Upper Rockridge, Upper Glenview, West Oakland, and basically everything east of the Fruitvale aren’t walkable.

  101. Naomi Schiff

    Ralph, V has a great proofreading option on this blog. If you slow down slightly and use it, posts will be clearer. The various left-out words and “sad” for “said” made that entry a bit opaque. I am trying to understand what you are saying, and I know you are trying to convey intelligent thoughts, but I don’t always get the drift.

  102. SF2OAK

    I don’t think that if you raise the price of parking to $3 hr. you will find an increase in gross receipts (which would measure buyers vs. window shoppers.) I think you’d just have desolate areas devoid of any retail activity. 1+1 does not equal 2 in retail there are synergies and yes window shoppers contribute to that.

  103. Naomi Schiff

    I have been walking around Oakland for 35 years. All times of day and night. Yes I have been ripped off. No not frequently. A couple of questions: a) do you refuse to walk on hills? If you told people around Montclair Village that it wasn’t walkable I think they would be surprised. b) Have you tried walking around these areas, or are you making assumptions? Things keep changing, cities don’t remain static. Keep trying. Walk around.

    In the 1980s, there was an outcry about underbrush around Lake Merritt that had concealed a corpse; the city cut down a lot of bushes. One really did not amble near the lake evenings and at night. Now on my walk home–even after dark–I sometimes have to step aside to let joggers run past. It is a great pleasure.

    I worked in the uptown area from 1981 until 2008. In that time we were involved in two very unpleasant incidents; once someone walked in and stole a typewriter (remember those?) from my upstairs neighbor, an architect, and headed over to the pawnshop; two people from my business managed to alert the police and helped catch the unwanted visitor. Another time, a menacing thug with a gun nabbed a colleague’s wallet in the old city parking lot behind the then-derelict Fox. There was a porn store in the Fox Until Mayor Harris got it shut down, a shady billiard-cue-repair and fencing operation, and the Floral Depot was abandoned. There was a terrible shooting in that same parking lot, some attractive-nuisance now-closed bars. On the whole, the neighborhood is almost unrecognizable, it has improved so much. A thousand thanks to Mayor Elihu Harris, Mayor Jerry Brown, the city council in various incarnations, redevelopment funds, and countless hours of citizen advocacy.

    Living in the city has its risks, but in small towns where I have lived in the past, guns, alcohol, gangs, racists, speeding pickups, and domestic violence seem no less prevalent, though with less density and sparser news accounts it may be less noticeable.

    I’m not saying there are no dangers. But I don’t see taking counsel of our fears as the way to a healthier city. Expand your definition of walkable and you might discover some fascinating pieces of Oakland.

  104. MarleenLee

    What other city was consistently in the news not so long ago for numerous armed holdups at local eateries in the middle of dinner? How about the riots where cars were being jumped on and burned? Do y’all have such a short memory? There are people in the area who are probably still too terrified to even think of eating out in the Oakland because of that, not to mention the regular concern about muggings, lack of sufficient police force, etc. Sorry, but comparing Oakland to Union Street, Tokyo and god knows what other silly comparisons have been made here is just delusional. The bottom line is that the City needs, to a large extent, to be run like a business, and that means staying competitive. We are starting from way behind the starting line here, and the harsh parking policy just puts as further back. And using parking policy in one city, which already has more problems than it can handle, to encourage people not to drive and stop the “subsidization” of driving? Get real. You might as well start a campaign for world peace while you’re at it.

  105. Robert

    Ralph, Sure glad you brought economic theory into this discussion. Maybe then you can explain to some of the posters here that when you raise the price of something, the demand for that thing goes down. The only question is how much demand will go down, which depends on the elasticity of demand. And entertainment has a pretty high demand elasticity, particularly in tough economic times. (Yes I am aware that there are weird exceptions in the luxury market.) So when the price of going to a movie at the Grand Lake goes from $13 (including parking ) to $14, fewer people will go to the movie. It doesn’t matter that the % change in cost is small, or that some posters here think people don’t respond that way, demand will drop, it is just a question of how much.

  106. V Smoothe

    I’m not sure if it just isn’t being explained the right way, but this is not a complicated or counterintuitive concept – I don’t know why people are having so much trouble with it.

    There are a limited number of parking spaces. If you are taking up a parking space, then that means nobody else can park there. We want as many people as possible to be able to come to our shops and restaurants. Therefore, we do not want people parking longer than necessary.

    Properly priced parking discourages people from parking longer than they need to and ensures that there are always open parking spaces. That way, people can always find one if they need to parking. This benefits business districts by allowing more people to shop there and also relieving congestion (an enormous amount of congestion is created by people circling around looking for parking spaces), which enhances the experience for drivers as well as pedestrians.

    Oakland’s parking prices have not yet reached this ideal level. Despite all the outcry about how the meters will keep people away, all three times I have visited the Grand Lake area after 6 PM since the new meters started, there have been no empty parking spaces.

  107. David


    It’s really amazing. “expand my definition” of walkable sounds a lot like lowering my standards. How about we raise Oakland up to some decent standards where normal guys (i’m 6’2″, relatively young, not really what I’d consider a prime target for a daytime mugging), don’t get mugged in broad daylight?

    There’s a word for people who haven’t experienced a significant crime after spending a long time in Uptown/Fruitvale etc–”lucky.” I don’t like argument by anecdote, but every member of my circle of friends who have lived in Oakland longer than 5 years or so has experienced a significant crime, i.e. getting mugged, getting shot, getting burglarized, getting a car stolen or all of the above. Where do they live? Uptown. Fruitvale. Laurel. Downtown. Adam’s Point. Where have I lived? Grand/Lake, China Hill, Upper Rockridge, North Oakland. As to Montclair, again, your definition of “walkable” seems to a be a neighborhood you DRIVE (or even bart/bus) to, and then walk around. That’s pointless to me. I want a neighborhood I want to LIVE in AND walk around. Try living up near Skyline and walking to the Montclair Village and back with a couple gallons of milk. Again, hills are beautiful for nature walks. Not so much for getting errands done on foot.

    I’ve been all over Oakland, thank you very much, walking and biking, taking the bus. Here’s what I see: some nice areas, a lot of crap, and some stuff in between. By any objective measure, the crap covers a bigger area. Take the 1R, as I have, ALL the way to San Leandro. See how long it takes to get through Oakland past Fruitvale. Take the 57 all the way down MacArthur to Eastmont for a treat or the 50 from the Coliseum through East Oakland, as I have..

    Finally, and I think this is a point that bears repeating (as I have in all these related posts), walkability is nice, but if you kill parking, you cut off FAMILIES from driving to the ‘hood and driving and shopping. I don’t know (or care) about your feelings about us breeders, but again, objectively, families are a large portion of any market, and to cut them off by eliminating parking is counterproductive. This is also part of the safety argument. I might tolerate getting mugged a couple times when it’s just me. When I have a couple kids as I do now, I’m abso-frickin-lutely not taking a chance on a stroll through, say, the Fruitvale at dark.


  108. Ralph

    David, sorry about your experience. I won’t say crime will not occur (I know it has occured in the Uptown and I’ve been a victim of it.) but on balance the Uptown ain’t that bad. By a crime measure, then you should avoid Adams Point (or whatever that Grand Ave area is where the old woman was brutally beaten), Redwood City (house with trip murders). I’m just saying compared to a number of places like say the Mission District and its machette guy, the Uptown is cool like the other side of the pillow.

    (did not read the rest of the post)

    and i like dude, it is a term i would use with a beer drinker.

  109. Ralph

    Naomi call it the curse of multitasking. Never took a typing class. Sometimes, my eyes see what I want them to see. Sadly, by the time I saw said was sad it was all said and done.

    dog is God and FOP is Frank Ogawa Plaza

  110. MarleenLee

    I’m quite sure that if increasing parking fees were good for business, we would have heard about it by now. But from everything I’ve read, business owners overwhelmingly agree that the new parking strategy has hurt their businesses. I’m all for letting business owners decide for themselves what’s good for them (and shoppers decide for themselves as well). If there’s a shortage of metered parking, then creating more parking should be the answer, not increasing rates, which reduces demand, which reduces business.

  111. Robert

    V, The theory is fine, but that was not what was done in setting the price, and it is not clear whether the current price is above, below, or right at the optimum. And I don’t see why your anecdotal data is any better the Michaan’s. I drove down Lakeshore yesterday just before 1 PM and there were 9 vacant parking spots (out of about 70 an the N side). Which would be close to the ideal vacancy rate. Later that afternoon close to half the spots were open. And this is in an area where before the parking rate increase every spot at lunch time and most spots later in the afternoon were full. And I have never had any trouble finding a spot after 6 PM anywhere I have been in Oakland since the rate increase. So based on my anecdotal info, the price is now too high, and is driving away customers from local businesses.

    I am not saying that my data is better than yours, but I don’t think that you, or anybody, has enough information yet to determine if the parking meter rate is too low or too high.

  112. Max Allstadt

    I think that I may have a slightly different definition of walkable too. To me, Adams Point isn’t particularly walkable, not because of the little hills, but because it’s so purely residential that the only reason to walk through it is to sightsee or visit somebody. For a neighborhood to be walkable, I think there need to be at least a handful of corner markets or non-residential uses.

  113. John Klein

    There is a lot to be said in response to your complaints. But, you need to look around you. You are in a large urban area which has a long and well-documented history of high crime rates. You, nor I, nor many thousands of people working and praying for the last several decades have not changed that.

    Taking that as a cue and looking forward, what do you think are the chances for a significant change in those historical indicators? After being active in community affairs for more than twenty years, I am well aware that the little knuckle-head on the street corner doesn’t know, or care, how well intentioned I am – he just wants my money – or worse.

    There are really a lot of places without the crime that Oakland has. Try one of the small towns in Oregon where they still don’t lock their cars or homes; don’t lock the front door at night. Staying in Oakland is a choice you have made. I suggest you be more aware of your surroundings and the times/places where you walk.

  114. Naomi Schiff


    I don’t oppose parking. I don’t have a strong view about what we should charge for parking.
    But there’s no reason to assume I’m some kind of elitist non breeder. I live near downtown. I walk to work downtown near Chinatown. I have two daughters. They walk around too, and of course I think about safety. One way to combat crime is for a lot more people to be walking, biking, driving and shopping along our streets, and meeting and speaking with our fellow citizens.

  115. SF2OAK

    It’s weird, usually I agree with Carlos and find Michaan unbearable but in this case not so. I do think it’s hypocritical of Michaan’s generally liberal political views to oppose parking regulation, increase in cost. I do think these new regulations/enforcement/fines and the process to challenge your ticket will drive out business from OAK which will result in less money for CC to blow.

    To Carlos, if you want to pay $5 a gal for gas or pay $3 for an hour of parking nobody is stopping you (but I do agree that “progressives certainly change their stripes pretty fast when it hits them in the pocket.

  116. SF2OAK

    Kernighan’s response:
    Dear Oakland residents and merchants:

    After hearing from a great many outraged constituents, I have
    concluded that the City Council tried to impose too much at
    once regarding parking fees and fines. The aspect that most people
    have objected to is the meter enforcement to 8:00pm. The extra
    enforcement hours make it harder to run errands on the way home from
    work, and it is deterring some customers from dining at Oakland
    restaurants. Consequently, I favor rescinding the 8 pm enforcement
    and going back to 6 pm.

    I am trying to get this issue reconsidered by the City Council as
    soon as possible. Unfortunately, we have a legislative recess in
    August, so it will be September before any changes can be made.

    Many people were offended by the concept that parking enforcement is
    being used as a revenue-generating activity to balance the City’s
    budget. That’s not my preferred method either, but it’s a
    reality that we need to find ways to pay for our City services.
    Balancing the City budget is something that affects everyone, because
    all the service cuts we’ve made recently will be affecting the
    quality of life of every one living in Oakland.

    Tax revenues to the City dropped $144 million in the past six months,
    and since the City can’t print money like the federal government, we
    had to make cuts in spending. The City Council voted in June to make
    deep cuts to public services, amounting to $97 million–which eliminated 452 City positions, including lay-offs of 152 people.All City workers took a pay cut of 10%.

    Our libraries are closed an extra day a week, weeds are 3 feet tall
    in the medians because we laid off half the maintenance workers, and
    we cut police overtime drastically. Staff for all our basic services
    (street cleaning, park maintenance, library workers, police, plus
    internal services like IT and payroll) are all down to the bone. We
    didn’t want to reduce public services any further, so we resorted to
    raising $4.5 million via the parking fees and fines. In retrospect,
    I think we made a mistake and should modify parts of that, but
    it means we’ll need to make further spending cuts in the fall.
    Please stay engaged with us in those discussions as we decide how to
    cover this shortfall.

    A final comment: Though I understand people’s anger over the
    increased parking enforcement, I urge people not to steer that anger
    in a direction that further hurts Oakland’s small businesses. The
    proposal to stop shopping and dining in Oakland until the
    parking rules get changed is not hitting the right target–it’s
    punishing the small business people and their employees, rather
    than the City Council! I get the message that people are unhappy
    with the City Council, and I will continue to listen to
    everyone’s concerns, but please don’t take it out on our merchants
    and restaurateurs!

    Pat Kernighan
    City Councilmember for District 2

  117. Ralph

    MarleenLee, what do you me by increase the parking supply – create more physical parking spaces or increase turnover. Both increase the number of spaces available but with vastly different impacts.

  118. Robert

    Ralph, there are 20 or so parking spots on Lakeshore between Mandana and Prince, that are in an approved meter zone, but currently have neither parking meters or even parking time limits of any sort. As a consequence, during the day, these spots are all taken up by folks who park there and then walk down to Lake Park and take the bus or casual carpool to the city. Oakland is losing revenue, and the total lack of turnover at these spots is not doing any merchant any good at all. So it is possible to create new parking (or at least new metered parking) to increase revenue, and still help merchants by increasing turnover.

    And those non-metered spots are full of drivers from Piedmont, while the monthly lease spots under the freeway sit half empty.

  119. SA

    V – my question is, how do you and others know that people are not using parking spaces “the right way”? What is it that you think people are doing when they are “misusing” parking spaces, and how do you know that if parking is full, it’s because people are “camping”? Perhaps you don’t want someone parking for an hour to buy a cup of coffee… but tell that to the coffee shop owner who makes a living selling cups of coffee.

    This whole argument about “properly priced parking” seems, if I am understanding people correctly (around Ralph’s snarky insults, which I am no longer going to engage with) to be based on the assumption that people are “misusing” parking spaces. The evidence people seem to drawing on is that full parking = people are misusing spaces; empty parking spaces = people are not misusing them. But there are other explanations. Full parking could equal “my, isn’t this business district busy at this point in time.” Empty parking could equal “how sad, people are staying away and taking their dollars with them.” I keep seeing people interpret data in ways that conveniently support their personal perspective on parking policy (sorry about that alliteration) and what I’m asking is: how do you know that your interpretation is the correct one?

    I’m asking for evidence that people are “misusing” parking spaces, and what I’m hearing back is “well if you have shopper A who never intended to spend any money, keeping out shopper B who is planning to spend a wad of money…” which is a nice hypothetical but doesn’t actually address reality because it relies on the most extreme behaviors possible, not behavior distributed across a curve. And you can’t know what motivates any given driver/parker at any given time, or how a different parking situation would affect their behavior, so unless someone can point to a sociological study of the non-purchasing behaviors of parking “campers,” I’m skeptical. Hypotheticals which are set up to produce the most favorable interpretation for one’s preferred position are not evidence.

    Which is why I gave my example: if my meter is about to run out because it had a 1 hour limit and I took 50 minutes to do my business somewhere, I’m going to get in my car and go home, whereas if I was able to park longer, I might choose to use that time to go into *another business* where I might spend money. Maybe I’d buy that cup of coffee. Now how is that “misusing” parking? I’m going to go out on a limb and say that I suspect consumer activity tends to fall much more into this “muddy” middle than into the extremes that keep being proposed (sociological data is often across a bell curve…)

    This op-ed has some good points about how short meter times can hurt more than just business as well – church/temple/mosque services, weddings, emergency room visitors… I’m much less interested in the price of parking, as the 50-cent increase isn’t that bad, than I am in the timing of the meters, and the completely outsized enforcement fines combined with heavy enforcement.

  120. V Smoothe

    SA –

    Full parking is always bad, because it means that nobody who is driving to an area will be able to park there. You always want to have empty parking spaces. That doesn’t have anything to do with one person’s perspective or another person’s – it is simply a fact. The reason meters exist is to guarantee that there is turnover of parking spaces.

    Again, I don’t really see what about this concept is so difficult to grasp, but I’ll try another approach. The simplest example of misusing parking spaces is letting business employees hog a limited parking supply. When parking is priced too cheaply, store employees will occupy all the spaces. The spaces won’t turn over because the employees are there all day. And then there are no parking spaces available for shoppers. This is bad for business.

  121. Ralph

    SA, try this as a test to see if parking is priced correctly. Using data from annual reports of Peets and The Gap, you know what the average sales per square foot is for each store. Compare how much more (Peets) and how much less (The Gap) revenue generates versus expected average revenue and this should tell you that something is amiss. Possible culprit Peets drinkers are crowding out Gap shoppers because parking is so cheap Peet drinkers don’t mind spending the day just watching people.

    Yes, I don’t think it is smart to balance a budget on fines and I am against max limits that restrict people’s time to shop to something that is unreasonably low.

  122. Ralph

    Robert, those 20 or so spaces is one of the worst uses of scarces resources that I have seen. I am a normal person. My time is valuable. When I would get my haircut at 11 on a Sat, I would drive down to the no-meter zone to squat a spot. Got so good at people started to call me Freddy. I could sit there for hours and at most $22 in the district.

    Ideally, the city converts those spaces to metered. As nice as more parking spaces is, if the city has land to build more parking, I’d rather they lease it to a developer who can place a store on it. The store would bring more in sales revenue than I could ever get from parking.

    SA, my final comment on parking misuse. Think of parking spaces as the city’s inventory. You are essentially buying a parking space for a period of time. If u keep going to the area and there is no inventory of parking spaces, just like you would avoid a store that has no product, you will avoid the shopping district. Thus, it is in the best interest of all to all

  123. Ralph

    Thus it is in the best interest of all to have a shopping district that has some available parking inventory.

  124. livegreen

    Look, there are also some people who complain about the City each & every time they get a ticket (even before the recent changes). If the City had done things a bit more gradually (ie. not the heavy enforcement that SA mentions, including the Catch-22 for people living on narrow streets) then some of the complaints would not have been made.

    On the other hand there are others who would have howled anyway, since they got any ticket, as they did even before the changes. The fact is some people are both cheap and they have no other problems in their lives, and they don’t care or speak up about the problems others are experiencing in our fair city. They don’t get involved with crime, with education, or with their neighbors. They don’t pay attention to zoning, or what helps or hurts businesses, employment, or Oakland city taxes. The only time they talk about any of this or their elected leaders is to say what bad things they’ve done for numero uno, “for me” (following the lead of our “bad news” only media).

    But oh when they get that parking ticket, elected officials you better watch out.
    They’ll give up on the City, it’s budget, their neighbors, and oh, they’ll move through the tunnel or to Alameda. All this for a ticket which they could have avoided in the first place if they’d put enough money in the meter or not forgotten when it came time to add more. We’ve all done it before and transferring blame from oneself to the government doesn’t mean that’s where the fault lies.

    So let’s blame when blame is due, and take responsibility when that is proper.

    This is part of a much larger issue, which has been discussed before here, about voter and citizen Apathy. Whether the cause of this is the Media, Technology, information overload, lack of transparency in Democracy, busy home lives, or other, is the subject for another discussion.

    It’s too late to know what “would have” happened if the City would have proposed some intermediate measures. But I have a feeling that good public policy (ie. What pays the budget and what people accept) will result from a compromise on this issue.

    And in the end that is what the goal is. Not what is 100% right for you, or a 100% right for me. If this is reached then the process will have worked, no matter how messy the sausage making was…

  125. bennett

    This has been a rather astonishing string – and, diverse in its various threads e.g crime, walkabilty and so on. Most entertaining. Would be nice if Michaan would pipe in!

    The fact remains that universally people hate tickets, as they do taxes, and in general, every method of revenue collection employed by government. Could they do a better job of postioning their value proposition. You betcha.

    If the government did not have an integrated (regional-state-national) system of monopoly, would you buy from them if there were a choice?

    Seems that a tipping point is occurring everywhere we turn and examine new factoids. Systems are challenged, inefficient, over priced, our quality of life is falling, costs are out of control, yet pay is down and somehow 48% of us are “underwater” with our mortgages and so on it goes.

    The easy button is no where to be found.

    PK seems to get it – the CC acted too quick or something, and this seemingly small, but inflamed issue should be corrected. IF only – someone in the CIty, rather than waiting for more studies and meetings, would “Just Do It”

    PS – Fire Dept just tipped us off that an “Army of enforcers” is coming up the hills to hit a new ticket bonanza of “parked wrong way on street, too far from curb, crossed over the non-existance sidewalk” etc – at $100-$300 a pop… Glad we can “hide in our garage”.

    We will shelter in place.

  126. David

    John, thanks for the ‘blame the victim.’ But you’re right. I have no hope for Oakland. Cities with its demographics and politics are crapholes and have been for decades all over the USA, from the Bronx/Yonkers to Newark to central/south Philly to Baltimore to DC to Atlanta to Jacksonville to New Orleans to Detroit to the South Side of Chicago to East St. Louis and all those other crapholes in between.

    I’ll definitely stay out of most of the crappy parts of Oakland during the daytime. And night.

    I kind of didn’t “choose” to be here. Unfortunately this area is where biotech jobs are and I’m stupid enough to be in that industry. so there you go. I tried my darndest to stay in Chicago (northside of course), but it didn’t happen. My fondest hope is to make enough money to buy a nice house in Alameda.


  127. SF2OAK

    I don’t mind so much the $2/hr parking- it is the way it was implemented that is egregious. First the kiosks had a sticker on them saying parking is $1.25 an hour- give people a warning and change the sticker. The pay stubs that you get should tell you clearly how much money you put in and how many minutes you get. The fines are outrageous- what progressive would say you should fine people over 500% of an hour of minimum wage ($55 ticket- min wage less than $10 hr.) City Hall should not balance their decades long fiscal irresponsibility on the backs of parkers.
    V. you are talking of yield parking management- this is not what OAK is doing it is uniformly just raising the per hour fee and raising the fines. When you drive down the shopping districts and count spaces do you ever look at the amount of handicapped placards (and why exactly are the “handicapped” deserving of free all day parking anyway?)
    I don’t know what these parking kiosks are capable of in terms of added functionality/reliability – but I do know they can not even put out a stub with good clear information. So OAK has just bought these and if you want them to go to yield mgmt system they may even need to spend more in infrastructure- meanwhile they have not taken out the old parking meter shafts.

  128. Oaktown Dad

    While we are on the topic, how about the legions of city employees with fraudulent handicapped placards? Take a look around downtown Oakland on a weekday. One local sandwich shop owner told me that on city holidays, his business improves 20% because his clients can find parking — because all the spots aren’t taken by fake handicapped city employees. Crazy.

  129. bennett

    If you can actually identify and enforce the fake ones (without make us feel lke we live in a {police state] – sure – that should be a heavy fine

    – however, I have a real one. I resisted getting it for a long time, out of “false pride” or something. And, I assure, that I would gladly pay 5$/hour or whatever if it meant not living with the pain from my failed hip.

    I might also add- that unless you are medical professional, it is very hard to tell whether someone may be in serious pain – although various times, I see people using the placard who do seem obviously NOT the person it was issued to (a requirement)

    If City employees are doing that – that fraud I would think should warrant instant termination with zero pension – as they violated the public trust.

  130. dto510

    I don’t understand why handicapped people need free parking with no time limits. I appreciate that people with mobility impairments should have privileged access to parking spots nearest their destination, but what’s the reasoning for making it free, and without time limits?

    The fact that some people who don’t have to pay for parking are hurting the availability of parking for everyone else is an example of why it makes sense to charge higher rates for parking.

    Handicapped placards are the state’s responsibility, there’s nothing cities can do about fraudulent use or overuse. SF has an even worse problem.

  131. MarleenLee

    “The reason meters exist is to guarantee that there is turnover of parking spaces” — maybe that’s true, but let’s not fool ourselves into thinking that the CC was concerned about turnover of parking spaces. Had that been the case, they would have consulted with business owners and city planning experts on how to address that issue. And it had nothing to do with getting people to start walking more and get healthy, or get out of their cars, or decrease congestion, or improve property values. Rather, what the CC wanted in this case was easy money. For them, the meters were just a cash cow. So discussion about whether the meters are correctly priced to encourage turnover, or whether this encourages environmentally correct behavior gives the CC more credit than they deserve.

  132. V Smoothe

    Marleen –

    I’m not sure what basis you have to declare what the Council was and was not intending, or who was consulted and what was done before raising parking meters. Hours and hours of discussion were devoted to the issue at many public meetings, and your statements very much do not reflect what went on during them.

  133. MarleenLee

    If those topics were discussed, it wouldn’t be the first time a bunch of politicians tried to come up with some good (disingenuous) excuses for diving into a pot of money. All I know is what I’ve read and heard in the media, and the only explanation I have heard being made for the changes was “we were desperate for the money.” And if the new policy is so great for business and is increasing turnover, then why aren’t the businesses happy about it?

  134. V Smoothe

    Marleen –

    Well, I watched every single minute of those many hours, so I do know what actually happened. You should know better than to expect the media explain the facts and context when there are outrageous headlines to be had. The fact is, there were actually people asking for these changes, and many people support them because they are good public policy, modeled after nationwide best practices.

  135. livegreen

    Marleen, So if the media didn’t report it then it didn’t happen? So if the black hole of news media consolidation got larger (like if CNN or FOX bought the Chronicle & Tribune) then the increase in news darkness and blackout would actually mean nothing is happening?

  136. SF2OAK

    V, If you read Kernighan’s letter (which I posted) she does say that the parking enforcement is a revenue generating activity- her letter goes on to explain the woes of OAK coffers- not explain the virtues of yield management parking), she further begs us not to take action against small business owners – which apparently CC could not give one [sh]bit about. So if the CC was so deliberate why is a small businessman calling for their recall? If this is how a deliberative body acts with such a poor roll out, poor implementation they are as bad as I really think they are.
    IMO they ought to be recalled they have used the fat years and spent profligately, wrongly (as evidenced by numerous lawsuits of misspent bond money). I cannot wait for Edgerly to go on trial as more fiscal skeleton’s are bound to come out in deposition- but my bet is OAK will cave and offer Edgerly a settlement.

    Further these are not yield management practices- they are just uniform increases, in fact I’m not even sure the kiosks can do an adequate job of yield management parking – Do our meters/system have the ability to detect vacancies? The argument that dynamic pricing will reduce traffic is not proven- how will I know if the spot is $2 or $3 an hour unless I stop my car and get out and then decide if I want to spend whatever the asking price is? There was a recent study in SF and it said price has no effect on demand.

    Here is from SF Port commish:
    What makes it a peak is that most people arrive just before it and most people leave just after it. What you end up having with a progressive rate system is that most people pay the lower rate during the highest usage hour. People [staying] a little longer ended up paying higher rates when demand is lower. This is the opposite of what you want to see if you’re trying to balance usage over the day.

    Bay Street Emeryville probably generates many times the tax revenue and dollar generation than anything we have in OAK- it is probably not “best practice”- lots of cheap parking offered what say you to that?

  137. VivekB

    I think Emeryville Bay Street could double their parking rates, and there would be zero impact to attendance. It’s about the destination. They have IMAX now, decent restaurants shopping, and you can just walk around.

    Where else you gonna watch a movie? The Pubic Street Cinema? Yeck. Those disgusting movie theaters on Shattuck where you stick to the seats? How about those tiny theaters where it’s marginally bigger than my buddies bigscreen TV?

    If we actually had something worth coming to, we could charge a lot more and nobody would whine.

  138. bennett

    my has this started a tempest in a parking spot.

    here is “damage control” proclamation from the Mayor’s office – all systems are now go – problem solved. [sic] only a 3-day countdown to “change that matters”

    from Karen Boyd – number attached should you wish to reach out to her on this matter
    (510) 238-6365
    City of Oakland Implements Extended Parking Limits to Improve Meter Parking Convenience for Evening Shopping and Events
    Oakland, CA — Mayor Ron Dellums announced today that effective Monday, August 10, parking time limits on all multi-space parking kiosks in Oakland will be extended to allow three (3) hours of parking after 5 pm. Under the current system, some commercial districts are zoned for a maximum of one or two hours of parking. This new change will rezone all commercial districts with the multi-space electronic kiosks to allow for a maximum of three hours of parking after 5 pm.
    The City of Oakland is making this immediate change to make it easier for patrons to park in the evening hours without risking a parking ticket. The change will be implemented under the City Administrator’s authority during the City Council’s August recess, and presented to the City Council for final approval in September.
    “We recognize that the dynamics of a commercial district change in the evening hours and that merchants who may want to see more frequent turnover in parking spaces during the day need longer hours for their patrons to park in the evening,” said City Administrator Dan Lindheim. “Oakland’s dining and nightlife scene is hot; we have dozens of new restaurants that have opened up, as well as movie theaters and shopping. We want people to be able to enjoy all that Oakland has to offer in the evening hours without running the risk of getting a parking ticket.”
    The change is coupled with another change announced earlier this week which allows drivers to purchase a parking receipt at any of the City’s multi-space meters, also known as “kiosks,” and use the same receipt at any meter anywhere in Oakland as long as it has a valid time and date on it. The multi-space kiosks accept coins and credit/debit cards for payment. Under the old system, each time a driver parked in a space they were required to purchase a new receipt, regardless of how long they parked there. The receipts were previously not transferrable from parking space to parking space.
    These two changes should make parking in Oakland more convenient for drivers and merchants alike.


  139. len

    emerybay gave away free parking for the first two or three years. they waited till they had developed a thriving business district. then they charged for parking in an unobstrusive way where you don’t have to keep worrying about getting a fine. you don’t worry about getting mugged (that doesn’t make sense).

    anyone know if they’ve raised the rates or implement variable pricing?


  140. Carlos Plazola

    SF2OAK: yes, if I am the only person in the entire American economy paying $5 per gallon, this will help move human beings off the crack-pipe of the car economy. I am that influential.

    It is not that I want to pay $5 per gallon (or more) so I can feel good about it. I want us all the pay the real price (incorporating the costs of all the currently externalized costs) for auto-related things like gas, parking, roads, etc. This will create the economic pressure needed to innovate new technologies of alternative fuels, alternative means of transportation, and the type of political pressure needed to increase our expenditures on efficient mass transit (which I’m guessing does not receive the subsidy equivalent to the social benefit it provides).

    As many have pointed out, the Lakeshore area has the most free parking of any business district in the city. How about sending some of those free spaces over to the Fruitvale, in exchange for those business getting their parking fees reduced?

  141. SF2OAK

    For a time I was a $5 gal gas believer too. But then when I think of stupid politicos offering an Air BART extension for a ridiculous price (ppm) and a huge fee for passengers for each way so that it would even eclipse the fees of driving at $5 a gal for a family of 5 I thought better. This is just the latest of the nexus of politicians, unions, transit and our tax dollars and that sucking sound.

    I have no idea what this sentence means: How about sending some of those free spaces over to the Fruitvale, in exchange for those business getting their parking fees reduced?

    But do you want free parking or not? Would you take it if given? All those who drive around with “no blood for oil” bumperstickers on the back of their cars make no sense to me either.

  142. Carlos Plazola

    SF2OAK: The logic that because stupid decisions have been made, additional stupid decisions are justified doesn’t compute in my head. I’ll try banging it against the wall to see if that helps.

    Regarding free spaces in the Fruitvale: I was being sarcastic. I am not an advocate for creating free parking. I mostly advocate for infill housing, more retail, and denser development near transportation. And I support those who advocate for better mass transit, and streets that are safer for peds and bikes.

    When I worked for Ignacio in 2004-ish, we faced a big drama on Foothill Boulevard: remove one car lane in each direction from 27th Ave to High Street in order to create more bike lanes and safer pedestrian environments, or leave the 2 lanes in each direction to support the car traffic. Merchants wanted to save the 2 lanes, and peds and bikers wanted to remove the lanes. We sided with the peds and bikers, after much analysis, and guess what: We did the right thing. The traffic slowed down, and the area became safer for peds and bikes. And the merchant’s fears were unfounded. The peds shop. Cars drive past.

    Point is: The public space along Foothill had been subconsciously or consciously developed to benefit the vehicle, unintentionally harming the experience of people on the sidewalks and bikes. Past decision-makers were “subsidizing” the car economy by creating too many lanes in both directions out of the public space. Our decision to create more space for bikes and peds shifted the “subsidy” to the bikers and peds, and created a better experience for them.

    Same principle on increasing parking fees. It’s about shifting the subsidy, in this case by reducing the subsidy for those who choose to drive their car.

    No doubt the fear of the merchants in this area would be as unfounded as the fear of the Foothill merchants 5 years ago. If only the politicos would all stick to their guns, rather than buckle to pressure based on self-interest.

  143. V Smoothe

    SF2OAK –

    Yes, Pat has been against the parking increases from the beginning, and she does look at them simply as revenue generators. She was also against ticket increases – she even made a big deal about how people shouldn’t be charged a lot of money for parking in a bus stop! Perhaps if she grasped the legitimate reasons for altering parking policies, her position would be different. But her e-mail from yesterday is entirely consistent with the way she has been treating the issue all Spring, an attitude I have found very frustrating.

  144. fyi

    From the Bay Street site — this appears to be $2.00 for the first three hours, etc., not $2.00 per hour. Also note that the theatre validates parking, possibly because it’s the big draw for Bay Street restaurants.
    • 0 to 3 hours: $2.00
    • 3-4 hours: $3.00
    • 4-5 hours: $5.00
    • 5-6 hours: $7.00
    • 6-7 hours: $9.00
    • 7-8 hours: $11.00
    • 8-24 hours: $12.00

    Validation with purchase available at Barnes & Noble. AMC validates for parking.

  145. livegreen

    Carlos, What did the City Engineers say about the road diet on Foothill? I thought they didn’t like this on streets with a certain amount of traffic…

    They often seem to be stuck in the “car is king” mentality of the 50′s. If they were against, how did you “convert” them?

  146. Matt

    Bay Street paid for the construction of its parking structure. Michaan wants the citizens of Oakland to pay for his patrons’ parking. Bay Street and the Grand Lake area have nothing in common. One is a mall and the other is a community.

  147. bennett

    This issue has certainly hit a nerve –

    today’s Montclarian print edition could be aptly renamed the “Parking Revolt Issue.

    The merchants up here are crystal on the impact this is having on their failing revenue.

    Others are mobilizing with various “shared tickets” and “acts of kindness” to fight back against the aggression often employed by the Maid Brigade

  148. Carlos Plazola

    livegreen: I’m remembering that much of this effort was tied into the citywide bike and pedestrian master planning process so the analysis was more balanced from the beginning. But you’re right. Car is King has tended to be the starting framework for engineering.

    So, the process started out balanced, and the issue came before us at council with a well balanced analysis that included benefits to bikes and peds and impacts to vehicles from going to one lane in each direction. Models were shown to us that showed the traffic would slow down, and back up at certain signals. We asked who the drivers were in the traffic? People from the neighborhood, or people passing through in their cars? It was mostly people driving from downtown to various neighborhoods along Foothill who wanted to avoid the freeway.

    We were asked to make the call because the decision was then a political one: Piss off the drivers and the merchants, or piss off the bike and ped activists. We went with what would make it better for bikes and peds.

    This was an unusual instance where the analysis was well balanced in terms of costs and benefits to all the stakeholders because of how the process began. But it shows why it is important to include as many variables in the analysis as possible–not just revenue generation, for example.

    Off to Yosemite to hug some trees. Bye

  149. MarleenLee

    Somehow, if this brilliant new parking policy were really effective at generating appropriate “turnover” for the benefit of local retail and dining establishments, surely we would have heard from at least some of the business owners singing its praises. Does anybody know of any businesses that are actually endorsing the new policy, rather than revolting against it?

  150. dto510

    Merchants are notoriously terrible at estimating appropriate parking needs and policy. They prefer time limits to meters, and then complain about their customers having to leave or being unable to find parking. The fact that some merchants think that $0.50/hr will result in fewer people dining is patently ridiculous. Oakland’s merchants also seem to think there’s free parking in Emeryville and Berkeley and Alameda, which isn’t true. Telegraph Ave merchants are throwing hissy fits about BRT, and claiming that all of their customers drive, but TransForm’s survey of Telegraph Ave customers found that most don’t drive. But in SF extended meter hours have a great deal of business support, yes.

  151. Robert

    Carlos, you, and others here, are wrong. There is an enormous amount of free 4 hour parking in the Jack London district, easily exceeding the amount of free parking available in the two city parking lots in the Lakeshore/Grand district. I’m guessing that this is a case of selective recognition.

  152. Robert

    Marleen, business isn’t supporting this because it was not a parking management policy, but a mechanism to increase revenue for the city. All the comments here suggesting that this is a parking management policy are revisionist. There is nothing to suggest that the council approved this as part of a management policy. And a flat increase to $2/hr throughout the city at all times is not at all consistent with the goals of parking management. There are extensive areas where many metered spots are empty during the metered hours, which is not the goal of parking management. Now as a mechanism to discourage driving and use alternative transportation, this increase makes more structural sense, but even that was not considered in implementing the increase, and has it’s own set of implications to businesses.

    If the city actually wanted to structure parking fees to facilitate parking management, I suspect that most merchants could be brought on board, because it might actually help their businesses.

    Nobody on cc wants to have the discussion about whether it is ‘better’ to hurt business by raising the parking fee or cut services more. So they acted as though there wasn’t going to be an impact.

  153. blackie

    I was in Minneapolis earlier this week & the meters there go until 10:oo p.m.. Michaan supportef Aimee Aliison so much because she promised to get the farmer’s market out of splash pad park.

  154. SA

    Bennett – good news about the changes.

    From the front lines: I went downtown to do business at my current bank (Chase, those @#$@#$%@#s) on Friday. Previously I might have stopped and tried to zip in and out without the meter hassle, but not with the stepped-up enforcement! Paid for a full hour on the meter even though I only expected to be in there about 5 minutes, hoping I could use the remainder of my ticket over at the credit union where I hope to transfer my business. Put my receipt, clearly marked that I bought it at 2:30 and valid until 3:30, on my dash.

    Came out after 5 minutes to find a ticket, issued at 2:34, for “expired meter.”

    Drove over to the credit union, only to find that they had coin meters there still rather than kiosks. In theory the new directive might have let me use the rest of my paid receipt time, but having just gotten one ticket, I didn’t want another from an enforcement cop who wasn’t up on the new rules. I spent the next 90 minutes running in and out hucking quarters down the chute every time my cell phone alarm went off (I like the CU’s business model, but the employee I was working with was *painfully* slow in how she handled my new account business).

    The whole mess really ruined my mood.

    I think I am officially one of those people who are screaming mad about Oakland parking enforcement.

  155. bennett

    That is completely horrific, unfair, and an outrage – especially as you were trying – I think the “fine print though was” that the program that allows “kiosks-coupons” is only beginning this Monday.

    Don’t forget the marching orders of the “army” – and with a rule change like that – the “retraining” may “slip a notch” – and they may say “oops” or not as the case may be. Revenue is there to be collected.

    BTW – only do busienss with a bank if it has a parking lot – then you can “tolerate” the slowness of today’s typical bank, or what is left of them that is. Some banks now offer “fries” with your deposits if you ask nice… And, if you think Chase is bad – try Citibank – “resident evil” numero uno – but that is another story and off topic of this string

  156. bennett

    here is the latest from Jean Quan explaining away the situation and the now “after the fact” merchant survey work they are doing (Note the “tense” of her writing)

    Per JQ newsletter issues Saturday August August 8

    Parking Rules Change: Last month we ran warnings about Parking Rules and Administration that raised questions for us as well as many of our readers. As part of the budget process we asked that parking facilities and management be centralized and reorganized; we met with the new Parking Director Noel Pinto and asked him to review rules and procedures that we thought questionable. As a result the following changes are now in effect:
    The parking receipts issued by the new kiosks are good for the full time no matter where they are bought. This means if you buy a two hour receipt in Montclair and then go to the Dimond within the time period your receipt will be accepted.
    If you are parked at a meter but have a timed receipt from a kiosk that is still good, the receipt will be accepted. This came up when some of our constituents bought kiosk receipts but were ticketed because they did not plug the meters.
    As of August 10, the kiosks will be reprogrammed so that at the end of the day tickets may be purchased for up to 3 hours, 5-8 pm. This is to allow more time for shoppers who want to catch dinner or go to a dinner and movie without worrying about parking meters.
    Other Parking Controversies:

    Merchant groups are being polled about meter time allowed: Some districts have 1 hour maximums while other have 2 hours maximums. The point to maximum’s is to keep the spaces circulating for customers; each commercial area is being asked to review their current meter maximums.
    Council will be revisiting the issue of extending parking to 8 pm throughout the city: Merchants are also being polled about the extended hours. When the Council first considered these changes, some restauranteers expressed support for longer hours in areas where local residents often parked up all of the commercial spots at 6 pm, leaving few spots for their dinner customers. This is increasingly happening in Downtown and has been a problem in areas like Rockridge. I was somewhat skeptical that it was good policy citywide and the Council planned to review usage in the fall after recess; it is clear that several Council members want to review this decision. The biggest problem is how to cut the budget $1.3 million to replace expected revenues. At the Council’s last meeting we barely escaped police layoffs, more library cuts, and other layoffs. I am spending much of my time this week looking for alternatives; after eliminating over 400 city jobs, asking all employees for a 10 percent give back, cutting one day at branch libraries, cutting park staff in half…we are very much at the bottom of the barrel.
    Parking kiosk problems: The City has a new phone number for kiosk problems which is staffed with a live person during working hours, 238-3099. This number rings at the enforcement dispatchers desk and is answered from 8:30 AM to 12:00 Noon and from 1:00 PM to 5:00 PM Monday through Friday. All other times a voice message can be left.
    Parking ticket costs: Several news articles reported that the City increased parking meter tickets as part of the budget. THIS IS NOT TRUE. It is true that early this year we passed on the cost of a state surcharge. Starting January 1, 2009, Senate Bill 1407 (Perata), “Court Facilities”, revised the California Government Code and increased this surcharge per violation in court surcharges for every paid citation to Alameda County to finance the State Courthouse Construction and Criminal Justice Facilities projects. This just another state pass through of its costs onto local government, for Oakland it is $3.4 million this year. In midst of making $140 million in city cuts, we did not think we could absorb this amount and passed the $10 surcharge on. When the staff proposed an additional $10 for Oakland revenues, we specifically rejected that as covered in this newsletter. Ironically, the extended hours was reported as one of the alternatives and I received no comments on it at the time.

  157. dto510

    Jean Quan notes above that the more obviously parking-friendly measures implemented recently were planned as part of the fee increases, and were not a reaction to angry drivers, as the media keeps saying. The Council and city staff were fully aware that raising meter fees and extending hours are a step toward better parking management, even if the city didn’t have the time or resources to commission a full-scale parking management study.

  158. Jennifer

    She didn’t mention, but I assume, that the kiosk problem desk will be open the hours listed, except for furlough days . . .

  159. SF2OAK

    $2 an hour doesn’t rile me up. It’s the whole dysfunctionality and outrageous fines that really tick me off, in addition when V. says they’ve had lots of deliberations on this new increase and this is how they roll it out why bother having administrators and CC folks this was the most inept roll out. There was so much wrong I can’t see what went right. Parking is an everyday thing, this is how my local government chooses to act with her own citizens and guests- they treat us like s*it and expect that we’ll return.

    Here’s fro todays Express: I have had similar experiences)
    Other Parking Enforcement Complaints
    Once issued, tickets can’t be appealed even when they are unjust, some say.

    By Sam Levin

    August 12, 2009

    Along with a growing number of complaints about the parking changes implemented by the city council, many Oakland residents are also reporting numerous citations that they say are virtually impossible to appeal. In light of the more aggressive rules, many of these frustrated drivers worry that the inability to appeal citations is another city tool for closing the budget gap.

    Michele Bloom received a ticket at 5464 College Avenue in April for parking after the meter had expired. Her husband, Russell Bloom, however, had evidence that his wife could not have violated the code: The citation was issued at 12:37 p.m., and Bloom had a receipt showing that his wife purchased one hour at 12:00 p.m. But his first appeal, after the city’s “complete and careful review” of the facts and evidence, was denied a month later.

    So Bloom, a lawyer, contacted the mayor’s office, the city administrator, and the parking department to express his outrage — but got no response. He finally reached the mayor’s assistant and explained the situation. Within ten minutes he got a call from Parking Director Noel Pinto advising that Bloom request an in-person hearing. He wanted an immediate explanation on how his appeal could have possibly been denied, but he was told that they have no comment on the first denail and he can only request a hearing.

    Months later, he finally went before an administrative judge, who ruled that the ticket was falsely issued. “But they were putting the burden of labor on the victim,” he complained. Bloom estimates that he spent forty hours dealing with the ticket — time he pointed out that most residents would not devote for a mere $45.

    Karin Seritis, who works for Caltrans on Grand Avenue in Oakland, received a ticket in May for parking in a two-hour zone for more than two hours. She said she always keeps track of her car and had moved it from 23rd Street, where it sat for only 41 minutes, to Waverly Street, where it was parked for a little less than two hours. The citation, however, said that she had been parked on Waverly for more than two hours, but Seritis claimed that the parking log’s initial time was incorrect. The day after the ticket was issued, she said she contested it on the phone to a parking enforcement supervisor, who responded that according to the meter maid’s log, the car was parked at the intersection of 23rd and Waverly so “this is a good ticket.” Essentially, the parking department claimed that she had not ever moved her car.

    She took an entire day off of work to fight it in person, but she was denied in the first appeal. She fought a second appeal and lost because the city claimed she did not have enough evidence that she had actually moved her car. “It was basically guilty until proven innocent,” she said.

    Seritis is not alone in her outrage. At least three of her co-workers at Caltrans complain of similar tickets. Jasjeet Sikand said that for the last two years he has worked in the area and paid several justified tickets in violation of the two-hour limit. He said he has also fought in vain against two tickets that were incorrectly issued. One time he got a two-hour violation citation at a broken meter where he said he was parked for only an hour. He sent an e-mail appeal and never heard back. When he went to fight in person with a dated hard copy of the e-mail, he said he was told that their computer system was down at the time he sent the e-mail and they “typically deny first appeals anyway.” He requested a hearing but first had to pay $50. The ticket was issued in January, and he still hasn’t heard back about a court date.

    Meanwhile, Caltrans employee Adolph Wyrick said he got a justified ticket on Grand Avenue for remaining too long in a space. The following day he paid the $35 fine. Nearly a year later, however, he received a letter saying he had never paid for the ticket and now owed close to $200 in late fees. When he called, the department said that they had just — a day earlier — received his $35 check. He didn’t have the time or energy to fight it, so he shoveled out the full amount.

    In September, Caltrans employee Roberta Littlefield received a notice in the mail that she was late paying a ticket for a violation for parking on Valdez Street. However, Littlefield said that she never even received the ticket on her car in the first place. In addition, she received three tickets this year for parking on Valdez — where she claims there is unclear signage. Only one of her appeals was granted, but even for the ticket that was voided, she said it still seems unclear if and when she will get her money back. After taking a 15 percent pay cut as a state employee, she said she no longer can afford this. “I could use that money,” she said. “But once they’ve got your money, they are not gonna let it go.”

    Parking director Pinto has a lot to say in defense of these kinds of grievances. Firstly, there is no such thing as an automatic appeal, he said. For example, sampling four recent business days, he said that his department voided 135 citations. A typical four-day period includes a total of 5,700 citations.

    Pinto admits that mistakes can happen, most likely with handwritten citations that he is currently working to replace with an electronic system. But he said his department is efficient at correcting such mistakes. He said there can legally be discrepancies between the first appeal and second appeal in-person hearing because the independent court has the jurisdiction to make an entirely different ruling. “There are a handful of people — who I am willing to bet are repeat offenders — who say these things just to blast the city,” he said.

    My comments -
    Here is Pinto calling everybody a liar. Aren’t the parking control officers guilty of double parking themselves? Aren’t those with either exmpt Ca plates just a wee bit out of the loop and why should not city council members pay for their own parking, and forget about reserved spaces in front of city hall for the pigs, let them eat from the peoples trough, finally since CC is in recess for a month shouldn’t their Reserved spaces be relinquished for at least this month?

  160. len

    my experience has been that oakland never ever budges an inch. eg. there was one where the alternate street parking sign was illegible. denied.

    pure rumor was that for years oakland accepted poverty as an excuse. are there public records of parking tickets issues, collected, and written off?

    -len raphael

  161. livegreen

    Alameda County has put out a bid for new Pay & Display parking meters. If anybody wants to start importing those nifty European machines that was linked earlier, this might be an opportunity to get your feet in the door…

  162. bennett

    Couple things come to mind from this last post

    your email points out the problems with a system that is by design too complex, without reasonable and convenient redress of grievances, that has lost its connection to its “purpose” – in this case, orderly control of traffic.

    first: WOW.


    a) it is astonishing the amount of time people will spend to fight matters that are perceived as unjust. Greatly more than the $/hour ROI that is logical

    b) The pattern of conduct indicates that the City has not ‘wholistically’ considered all factors in deployment and management of parking regs vis a vis the benefits of the merchants’ commerce, the quality of the citizen’s experience, and even, the ultimate yield to the City’s coffers

    c) sheltering in place, staying at home, riding a bike, driving to businesses with parking lots when going on buying trips or getting a handicap placard all seem like good things to do until this “blows over”. None of this of course helps the struggling merchants cope with the ongoing “no-spend” that has taken over the consumer mindset – and as the count of vacant storefronts increase, this may become painfully more obvious.

    here’s hoping for new vision and change in the near future.

  163. MarleenLee

    While I’m no fan of the new parking measures, that article was fairly crappy journalism. Of course you’ll always be able to find a bunch of whiners and complainers who claim they were screwed by the system. And I do think it’s fair that the offenders be considered guilty until proven innocent – how else would the system work? Anybody could come in and say, “Oh, but my car wasn’t there!” What – you’re going to make the meter maid come in and testify otherwise? That’s ridiculous. Of course, the lawyer who contested came in with actual evidence that the citation was faulty, and rightly had the ticket reversed. What would be interesting would be to find out what percentage of appeals are actually granted, and how that compares with elsewhere. And it goes without saying that poverty shouldn’t be a factor in granting appeals; if you’ve got enough money for a car and insurance, you’ve got enough money to pay the ticket.

  164. Robert

    Isn’t there a parking garage at Waverly and 23rd? So why were these CalTrans employees not parked in the garage where they would not have to leave their work to move their cars?

    I think that the current interpretation of the 2 hour limit means 2 hours in the same area, not necessarily in the same spot. Back when they chalked tires moving your car one spot over was good enough, but now that they write down plate numbers I think you have to meet the intention of the 2 hour limit and move your car out of the area. Of course area is not well defined, and there really should be some outreach about this if that is how the city is interpreting the parking regulations now.

    I don’t have a lot of sympathy for these type of violations. It doesn’t take all that much to learn how to avoid. Three tickets (that she admits to getting) without figuring out there was a problem with where she was parking? I have gotten my share and learned.

  165. Ralph

    I’ve have no sympathy for those who get parking tickets. That being said the city should post clear and easy to understand language – i.e 2 hours zone X not 2 hour parking. And drivers if you have multiple parking slips on your dash get rid of the extra. If I am the PEO, I need to see the valid slip not a bunch of other slips.

  166. SF2OAK

    Have you any sympathy for one who has wrongly been given a ticket?
    Of course nobody who works can afford to spend the time to fight a ticket, but that is the system and the system is wrong. It is not thoughtful and is to the detriment of the city. This is no way to budget and no way to operate. Overpaid city workers and pensions will crush this city, and to take it out on your only hope retail is a shabby solution.
    Marlene if they admit to making 135 mistakes in 4 days they probably make at least 2x that amount that people don’t contest because it takes so much time – shouldn’t one be able to protest and get fair judgement- the system is not fair or just in that regard.

  167. Ralph

    Zero sympathy. If you can read the instructions on the driver’s exam, then you can read the street signs, and I am betting you can tell time. My mother once said, if you can’t afford the insurance after you are caught speeding, I recommend not speeding. If you can’t afford the time it takes to fight the ticket, I recommend not doing the activity that caused you to get the parking ticket. It isn’t the system that is wrong, it is a the people trying to cheat the system who are wrong.

  168. Max Allstadt

    I have sympathy for people who get tickets in error. I got one myself recently. Two tickets for the same violations, issued less than 7 minutes apart. I contested one.

    I don’t think that it takes that much effort to contest a ticket. Mailing in a protest is no different than mailing in payment.

  169. len

    max, what was the result of your appeal by mail? of the two i’ve sent in, the only response was a dunning letter.

  170. SF2OAK

    Ralph, in the example provided above and in my post I said wrongly been given a ticket- Pinto admits to giving 135 in a 4 day period (otherwise why would he dismiss them.)
    The parking instructions are not clear- why would it have been illegal to purchase a ticket from one machine for 2 hours of parking and then use it in another location- this rule has been rescinded but just (so that is an admission that they were initially wrong)- the city is ripping you off and it put no notice on the machines or mounted a press campaign to that effect. Similarly why would it be obvious that if you had a kiosk ticket and there was a meter that you should have used the meter- how is that obvious?
    one contests a ticket and does not hear back for months and then when you do hear back you are given no “proofs.” Ridiculous. Outrageous. And to Marlenes point that it should be up to the “offender” to prove his innocence again ridiculous how is it that Fastrack sends you a photo, red light cameras again use a photo of course they should be able to prove the ticket, and cops show up.
    I received a ticket when I had a kiosk stub shown as instructed in the winshield, are we hiring blind meter maids? I of course contested but haven’t heard back for months- OAK gives you a time limit to respond why are we not entitled to a similar reasonable time limit?

    You then must be for fining and arresting/ticketing people for every type of infraction littering, spreading birdseed, smoking in a no smoking area, jaywalking, ad infinitum but we all know that the owners of property and cars are easiest to attach so they are the easiest targets to fine and that is what we have here.

    This is not a traffic control issue it is simply a money raising issue. I don’t want to reward/correct the fiscal mismanagement of OAK on the backs of car (and property) owners.

  171. annoyed

    I am so over tightfisted, inattentive, so-called adults whining over parking. I get a parking ticket about every three or four years. For me, it’s a moment of shrugging my shoulders for not taking care of business and haveing to fork over cash to the city as a result. A person has to work at getting a ticket because it is really not that hard to avoid getting one. I don’t feel sorry for you, grow up.

    People whine about poor services but you must think public services are free in the middle of a global economic meltdown. When people are losing jobs, their homes, and health care insurance, the biggest bitch in your life is an increase of $.50 per hour for parking and an extension of parking enforcement until 8PM. I wish I had your problems.

    There is no way in hell I am going to drive all the way to Walnut Creek (where people in my demographic, as someone described me earlier, are not entirely welcome) to have dinner. I’m not going to drive to some strip mall restaurant in Emeryville and I’m darn sure not going to looney land in Berkeley. I will continue to patronize Oakland restaurants (and a few in Alameda where downtown parking is really a nightmare at night) and deal with the consequences of a new parking regime. I occasionally dine in SF if I’m already over there but I seldom make a special trip because there are too many fine places in Oakland and Alameda. What is it with people who just piss and moan over the most inconsequential nonsense? You don’t care about black and brown people (including all the innocent babies and seniors) getting their brains blown out every week but omigawd, the parking rates have increased! It’s the end of the world as we know it.

    Here it is: I seldom shop in Grant Lake because of the bad driving and the lack of police traffic enforcement. I occasionally hit the theater for a movie or TJ’s in the late evening (I typically go to Alameda). I am just sure if some of you received tickets for all the illegal u-turns and erratic driving you would be here bellowing like stuck pigs about how the city is trying to break your back with unfair moving violations.

    Mr. Michaan, dig this: I will never darken your doorstep again in my life. You have more parking than most businesses in this city and you would do this?

    As for Pat K., she was one of the last council reps I had any respect for and now that is gone after caving on this issue. Way to be more concerned about getting reelected than doing what is right for the city.

  172. Ralph

    If all it takes to have a ticket, given in error, dismissed is 5 minutes and a forever stamp, then I see no need to feel sympathetic. The ticket was washed from this earth – who cares?

    If the city ever gets its act together, you can say goodbye to your portable parking slip.

  173. MarleenLee

    The rules for contesting moving violation tickets are quite different than for contesting parking citations, so the bridge toll example is not a good comparison. If you want to know the law on contesting parking citations, here it is.
    As you can see, the law very clearly provides that at the second level of review, there is no need for the City to produce evidence that the ticket was issued correctly. The burden of proof is properly on the person contesting, as it should be. Of course I have sympathy for people who were issued tickets in error; it happens, and there is an avenue of appeal. It shouldn’t take 40 hours (but lawyers always claim things take longer than they really do….) I don’t know why other people are so mad about the parking situation, but my reason is because this is just a method to generate revenue because the City is so horrible at managing its finances, and because this proposal illustrates how bad they are at gauging what their constituents want and thinking things through.

  174. SF2OAK

    I agree with all your reasons for being upset w/OAK parking/gov’t fiasco.

    I still say it should not be the burden to prove that you parked somewhere for 41 minutes (how can you possibly do that?) and I do know it takes an incredible amount of perseverance to get the money back- it seems like a flawed system and if a lawyer says it takes 40 hours and in reality it took 20 that is 19.5 too much for being right.

    But it is enough that we agree on the major points we can argue about the rest once OAK gets its financial house in order (which means we’ll be putting off that argument forever.)

  175. SF2OAK

    To annoyed:

    Maybe OAK ought to put the parking meter concept on all other city services, you must pay for the service, how about that? I’m up for that because I don’t think I use that many city services.

    I don’t know anybody who is bitching over the $2/hr soley, in fact that seems pretty reasonable- it’s the host of other things like extended hours, and 1 hour parking limit at certain places, outrageous fines, inhospitable redress for wrongly issued tickets, and using this as a way to raise revenue for mismanagement of city finances lo these many years.

    You seem to drive to Alameda TJ’s where you enjoy free parking and those taxes sure don’t benefit OAK per se though since it is in the same county arguably…some bene. OAK ought to remain competitive and keep that in mind when devising policy.

  176. meg

    I AM bitching about the two dollars an hour in after hours fees! I use the YMCA downtown, and due to the parking fees, it will cost me an additional 4 dollars an evening to park near enough to the gym to be safe. I am a student and poor and cannot afford an additional 50 or so dollars a month to use the gym. I can assure you that there are many in Oakland who are on budgets tight enough that 4 dollars in additional after hours parking makes a difference. So there.

  177. Jerky McJerkington

    If you’re afraid to walk two blocks to free parking, try running. You’re at the gym already. Or move to Orinda. If you can’t walk 2 blocks in downtown Oakland after dark, you’re irrationally afraid.

    Seriously, there’s lots of free parking down there. Just not free rockstar parking for the Y.

  178. Andy Panda

    I won’t walk the two blocks from my house to the grocery store alone after dark, & I am not irrationally afraid, I am rationally afraid, & I am a great big man that has been studying martial arts for many years.

  179. Max Allstadt

    Look, I don’t necessarily think that we should have extended the parking hours, but there are good solutions on the table for that, and raising the fees during the day is fine. Perhaps we should have extended the parking hours into the early morning?

    One example of parking policy that I really like is Santa Barbara. You get 75 minutes free, everywhere. After that, on the street in most places, you get a ticket. In city owned lots, you start paying after 75 minutes. Makes a lot of sense.


    Where do you live? That’s kind of amazing. I live in GhostTown and though nag my girlfriend about being alone on the street after dark, I don’t ever think twice about it myself. I’m not that big and not that mean looking either. And realistically, martial arts experience is meaningless on the street. It’s all about deflecting or talking your way out of trouble, or seeing it two blocks before you get to it and crossing the street pre-emptively.


    I don’t know what time of night you’re going to the Y, but the neighborhood surrounding it is safe enough that many women I know are fine with being there alone. There’s not a lot going on over there to attract muggers. After dark, the places to be wary are near bars and restaurants, and around the lake.

    Try parking on Valley St. between Broadway and Telegraph, or on 24th or 25th on the east side of broadway. There might even be free parking on parts of Valdez. It’s really not that dangerous, and if you change where you park, you’ll save 2 bucks a day instead of paying 2 bucks extra.

  180. Andy Panda

    Max, I live near the lake off of e. 18th st.. There are so many street robberies around here, it’s almost hard to believe. If you put yourself out on the street at night around here, you are seriously asking to get your shit taken. Those middle aged parolees who panhandle in the daylight are doing strongarms at night. I am the only person that I know in our NCPC or among my neighbors that has not been jacked at least once. Spotting potential trouble is the most reliable way for heading it off, but that is not always possible. Robbers use spotters & work out of cars quite often, so they will have the jump on you. I have seldom used my martial arts in street settings, mostly it’s come in handy in bars, but I look forward to giving some asshole assailant a spiral compund fracture someday. I would not put my skills up against a gun, certainly & every situation reads differently. I like to imagine the day when Oakland’s crime is just a nearly forgotten bad dream, & thanks to our NCPC & NSC our neighborhood is a thousand times better than it was five years ago.

  181. David

    Andy, you’re wasting your time. Somehow, none of the below 580 boosters on here have ever been mugged, had their car broken into, or house/apartment burglarized, despite the massive amounts of crime below 580, and that myself, and every single one of my friends has had some crime like that happen to them, provided they’ve lived in Oakland for more than one year. They’d rather either 1) blame you for not being ‘alert’, aka ‘asking for it’ or 2) assert (blind to all facts) that crime ‘isn’t that bad.’

    Oh, but your ‘hood is walkable, despite getting mugged when you walk around in it.

    Like I wrote, save up your money, move to Alameda. or heck, move to San Leandro, which isn’t as safe as Alameda, but it’s way better than Oakland, and houses cost about 20% less.

  182. Max Allstadt


    I have had my car broken into. It happens. It cost $105 bucks to replace the window and then I got over it.

    I’ve also been attacked. Recently. Read all about it: (middle of the article).

    I’ve had friends who were attacked who weren’t so lucky. Friends held at gun point, mugged, burglarized. A neighbor murdered by her own nephew.

    It’s not that there isn’t crime, it’s that the risk of getting attacked as Meg and Andy are imagining it is preposterous. They make it sound like it’s inevitable. It isn’t.

    Crime is dropping. And even if it wasn’t, paranoia wouldn’t be a solution. Retreat isn’t either. The more people who brave the night, the more crime will decrease. Hiding indoors and driving everywhere makes it worse, not better.

  183. MarleenLee

    Max, not to get too off topic, but I do not think that engaging in risky behavior, like walking in a dangerous area at night, is the answer to crime, nor is it the type of strategy actively promoted by OPD. In fact, at all of the crime prevention meetings I have ever been to OPD actively encourages defensive tactics. Staying home and/or driving would be “defensive tactics.” One real solution is having a well-trained, well-staffed, and well supervised police force, which we currently do not have. Until we do, and until I see the crime numbers dropping significantly, I think it is perfectly reasonable for people, particularly women, to be afraid of walking around many parts of Oakland.

  184. Max Allstadt

    My point was more that increasing the total number of people on any given street at any given time is indeed a solution. Muggings don’t happen with 8 witnesses. They don’t happen on blocks that have steady through traffic. They happen on empty blocks. Undo the emptiness, and the opportunity goes away. I also really don’t think that it’s all that reasonable to be afraid at 24th and Broadway.

    Back to parking: I think that if we’re going to placate Michaan and friends by rolling the hours back, we can make up for that revenue loss.

    Reduce free parking under the freeway to 75 minutes. Increase the time limit one side of Grand Ave to allow for full movie viewing. Similarly with the lot behind the theater. Let ‘em stay, but make’em pay. Almost anything can be done over there in under 75 minutes, other than watching a movie. People will pay for movie parking. The Grand Lake is cool enough that it’s worth a little extra for a big screen in a beautiful place.

  185. David

    Ok Max.

    1) $105 is a week’s worth of groceries for my family, a month’s cell phone bill or two month’s of PG&E. it ain’t chicken feed.

    2) Inevitable? Sure does sound like it is, as I add you to the list of people who live in Oakland for more than a year and experienced a significant crime.

    I’ve lived elsewhere. I lived in Berkeley for years. Worst thing that happened there was a bike getting stolen at BART (shocker). Move to Oakland and in a couple years get mugged, burgled, 2 bikes stolen, car broken into etc etc. Where that happened in Oakland has home prices similar to where I lived in Chicago (and they’re not cheap). In Chicago, during the same amount of time I lived in Oakland…bike stolen and that’s cuz I was an absent minded idiot and somehow forgot to lock the lock. and that’s it. Not only was that it, but there was nobody, no neighbors, no friends, co-workers, nobody who lived within a couple miles ever mentioned any crime. Oh, and the local public grade school was awesome (even taught Chinese and Spanish/French to grade schoolers).

    Seriously, your perception of what is ‘normal’ crime is completely skewed by living in Oakland. It’s not normal.

  186. Max Allstadt


    I grew up in Tokyo and Singapore, so in terms of being a crime victim, I’m still coming out way ahead.

    The knife fight was downtown, off the street, and completely random. And the window break in happened once, in 5 and half years in West Oakland, which, if you believe the media looks like Fallujah. It doesn’t.

    I’ve also seen someone get shot and killed since I moved to the Bay Area. That was in Cow Hollow/Russian Hill in San Francisco.

    I know it’s not pretty here. I know that crime happens. I just think living in fear and in a constant state of paranoia is the wrong way to deal with it.

  187. Max Allstadt

    Well we had some tangents here and there, but yeah, it was a hot topic, that’s why I wrote about it.

    Also, in all fairness, when I’ve written in the past, I’ve engaged in the comments section far more than V usually does, which is part of the reason it keeps going along. I question whether I should do that, but I can’t help myself.

  188. David

    It’s not fear. It’s not paranoia. It’s exhaustion with the bull. And also, I don’t think my boy needs to learn what business the dips***s on the corner are in, or the whores, etc when he’s 4 years old. And like I said, if you think anything’s gonna change, you’re smoking some of that crack. That was my point with my grandma’s comments. There’s always been more crime down in the flats, and there always will be, and it will never be a ‘normal’ crime rate. So you either 1) tolerate it (which it appears you do, and convince yourself it’s not that bad) or 2) commit yourself to the Sisyphean task of improving it, or 3) get out of Dodge.

    I’m for door #3. Yeah, you can hate on me all you want, but I got kids to worry about.


  189. Max Allstadt

    Not gonna hate on you for taking door number 3. With that attitude, it’s best for everybody if you take door number 3.

    And no, I’m not taking door number 1. I went through door number 2 years ago, and the slope I’m pushing the rock up is shallower than you might think. It has a plateau at the end too, not a cliff.

  190. Patrick

    V’s posts are fact-filled and journalistic (looking past the valley-speak) while Max’s are feelings-based and exhortative . They’re designed to create an emotional response – and it works.

  191. Max Allstadt

    So, like, I think it’s like, totally way unfair to like accuse V of “valley speak”.

  192. SF2OAK

    OK so it appears there is someone that minds the $2 parking (glad you spoke up.)

    I didn’t know this was going to devolve into a crime thread. OAK is not normal nor as it should be. To add pecuniary injury to physical injury by visiting OAK will certainly decrease patronage -Exactly the opposite of what OAK needs. This parking snafu – and really the way they rolled this out was incredibly bad- and that is by their own admission because CC keeps on changing their own instructions so it must be really bad. Personally I love the fact that after they (CC) imposed this they took off on vacation (yet I still notice that they have reserved spots in front of city hall.) It shows what overpaid, underwhelming executives CC are- they cannot manage to run a parking plan right.

    The fact is that this city’s problem is crime and not parking so why does CC go after parkers? Because they can, and they cannot seem to do anything about the criminal element that is costing the big $.

  193. Ralph

    an observation i made while in albuqueque – the parking lot @ walgreens has a 60 minute limit and signs that read get out or get towed we need the spaces for more customers.

    santa fe parking signs on the plaza, it is all about space turnover not revenue generation

  194. bennett

    SF2OK -I think you have made some very interesting points on what now appears to be one of the longest threats in the history of V’s exceptional blog. the crime situation is of course very troubling, especially as we prepare to release tens of thousands to the streets without suitable programs to reintegrate the former prisoners.

    a few days ago, our neighbor mentioned a change in their pattern which was directly related to the the parking rules – i thought the group would find this of interest.

    For about a decade or so, they have been ice dancing at a rink somewhere downtown. Suddenly – with the change in after hours meters – often guaranteeing either a ticket or the awkwardness of changing out of skates to plug a meter “mid-workout”, they only go HALF as often – the experience has changed – now it is a hassle. Now the rink is half empty. Now the already struggling business, is in even more financial trouble. It may take them out – where the crime had not.

    I hear the same comments on the YMCA and workouts and the aggressiveness on $100 fines for missing front plates. It all weighs.

    There are interconnected consequences from everything – small business impact varies from operation to operation, and while the Theater has a marquee and is perhaps the most outspoken, the impact of this “enhanced revenue program” is costing the City and its citizens and business in diverse and unpredictable ways.

    It may in fact, be costing the City more in the long term than it gains from this “Hail Mary” to garner some quick cash.

  195. Patrick

    Wev. :) I find V’s writing style very refreshing. Lots of meat with just a little bit of the unexpected to further grab your attention. Arianna Huffington couldn’t get away with it but V owns it.

  196. SF2OAK

    You are absolutely right bennett there is a connection between parking and crime and I’m glad you pointed it out.

    I do think you are also right when you called this increase in parking charges/enforcement a hail mary, because that is certainly what it appears to be.

    I have said from the begining that this parking upcharge /beefier enforcement will have the exact opposite effect on OAK than intended. We need more good people out on the streets, more shoppers – when you chase them out of OAK into emerville/Alameda and thru the tunnel OAK loses tax revenues and goodwill (which is the eventual loss of tax revenue.)

    I just got back from Lakeshore Ave where I noticed 30% of cars on a strech displaying handicapped placards and 30% open spots.

    When CC comes back in Sept. and proposes charging for parking in the TJ lot watch out I think the recall will pick up steam.

  197. SF2OAK

    From East Bay Express Letters 9/2/09
    Do You Ever Feel Like You’ve Been Had?

    Of all the problems that Oakland has, now we have a parking crisis? What does one say? This parking crisis is one of our own making. It is hard to stay respectful and polite when our members of the city council do something so short-sighted. It is not just the 50 cents an hour; it is not just the extra hours until 8 p.m.; it is not just the higher ticket prices. It is the feeling that “gotcha” and anything-goes-for-a-buck is the way they feel. That is what gets under the skin and make us feel like a crime victim when we get a parking ticket.

    They sometimes call us shoppers, sometimes call us residents, sometimes call us taxpayers, but they sure do not treat us like citizens. They treat us like someone to milk because they get away with it.

    Most of our council did not run in a contested race to get their job. All but one of the council members represents a district that has nothing to do with where the people of Oakland live, except to make sure that some of those who live in the hills live in each district. But how do they get so out of touch with what it is like to live and work here?

    A friend was telling me yesterday that a customer who got a ticket while in her cafe came back into the cafe and told her that she will never come back again. The cafe owner is in no way responsible for Oakland parking policies, but the anger and frustration of the client was very understandable. We who run businesses in Oakland get to hear how angry the citizens who get caught in the trap feel.

    Parking tickets were never a very friendly way to raise funds. The way Oakland does it is something of a trap. It is set up to make it hard on the driver and increase the opportunities to ticket rather than collect parking fees.

    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

  198. Ralph

    letters like that make me wonder where parents failed. i’ve been driving for over 20 years and have received maybe 2 parking tickets. was i frustrated? yes. was i annoyed? yes. was i parked in violation of some known and stated law? yes. you pay the fine and move on.

    i don’t think any city should rely on fines as a means of revenue generation. rather that fine should discourage people from doing an activity. i see people willfully ignoring the parking charge and then complain about a ticket. i see people pay for an hr but need an hour fifteen and complain when they get a ticket. i am just not feeling sympathetic.

    people you are renting a spot on the street – pay for it. and remember business owners need that spot to turnover to make room for new customers – be sensitive to their needs.

  199. SF2OAK

    That’s a fantastic record Ralph- 20 yrs 2 tix.
    Don’t you find it at all disturbing at how much the fines are? At $55 for a begining fine they are over 1/2 day minimum wage, it gets worse. If you read the East Bay Express’ other letters there was a writer who got tickets she says in error and that the law contradicts itself on- is that not a concern? That to fight a ticket in error will cost you more in time.
    At least we can agree that cities should not rely on fines as a means of revenue generation But clearly in this case that is exactly what dysfunctional and profligate spenders CC of OAK has done. In fact this increase, which apparently was under much discussion in chambers as reported here on this thread, is so lame it is hard to trust anything CC does (not that I had much trust in them before) but it certainly highlights their shortcomings. Why do we keep returning them to seats of power?

    You may well be renting a spot on the street but this has impacts far beyond just renting a spot- it impacts shopping, merchants, crime, budgets and many matters of city life.

    We will see how much of an impact these new fee increases have on quality of life in OAK and it will be evident in the revenues of this city- my sense is that it will ultimately be less payroll tax revenue, less sales tax revenue, less employment, less real estate tax.
    Also interesting is that OAK has poor public transit options and as we speak AC transit is cutting service.

  200. len raphael

    we’re looking at this parking thang the wrong way. cc should make the parking fine dept into a model of bureaucratic efficiency for the rest of the city administraton.

    i got a ticket on tele and 30th street about two weeks ago when the meter ate my last two bits but didn’t give me the 5 mins i needed to run into the store to pick up a purchase. came out and found a ticket.

    an hour later i called the phone number for parking meter problems and impressively immediately got a human who took my complaint and said he’d report it to the meter inspector that day.

    later that day i send an appeal letter with full details, name of person i spoke to etc.

    two days ago i got a letter telling me to pay now or pay additional penalties.

    -len raphael

  201. Ralph

    i don’t think the fines are excessive. w/in 2 – 3 yrs of buying my 1st car, i found myself w/3 speeding tickets. as a male younger than 25 my rates were already high and money was already tight, this just compunded the problem. But i haven’t had a ticket since. I think the fines have to be high enough to discourage people from doing stuff they should not be doing. If I were a merchant or the city, I would not want people tying up a parking space preventing new buyers from coming to the shopping district. As the owner, I prefer sales revenue, as the city i prefer sales tax and employed individuals.

    If an Oakland resident has trouble paying the fine, the resident should not do stuff that would incur the fine. Don’t do the crime, if you can’t do the time. Fines you not be levied based on what people can afford to pay. The fine should hurt and be a reminder of why you should not do the activity.

    that said, i do have a problem when the machines eat the money without giving you the time, you get ticketed, and the city fails to acknowledge that there was a problem. There needs to be a better way to match revenue collected with time paid and issued.

  202. Ralph

    sf2oak, as to why we keep returning these people to council? multiple reasons. a significant junk of the electorate is too dumb to notice that they are getting screwed (see nancy nadel’s district), some candidates are so far too the left that they forget we a really a nation in the middle (see AA/PK).

    I think only a handful of people of council think about how we can grow Oakland. The majority think about how we can take money from its middle and upper class and give to its poor.

  203. VivekB

    It would be cool if we could pre-pay for sins. I.E., for an extra $500/month, You don’t have to pay parking meters, you can walk around with an open container of alcohol, you can speed or run stop signs (presuming you don’t hit anyone).

    ok, well, maybe that’s more stupid than cool, but an entertaining diversion for a few minutes during an entirely stressful workday anyhow.

  204. SF2OAK

    I agree on the point that fines should discourage bad behaviour. It absolutely should hurt but it’s a very minor infraction to be over a time limit – and once you are over it isn’t a matter of degrees 1 second over the allotted time is the same as 1 hour over and the fines are onerous. Compound this with a situation like Len R.’s or many others who have been ticketed wrongly with no adequate redress. Also compounding the situation is the ineffective way of the parking meter- how do you know how long a transaction will take- you should be allowed to pay for the amount of time used after you have used the time by a method like a fastrack transponder- the city should make it easy for people to be in compliance and not run a fine generating racket. A small complaint of mine is that OAK receipts from the kiosk don’t even give you enough information- they should tell you how many minutes you have purchased- I believe Berkeley kiosks do that (and I noticed that Berkeley still has $1.25 hr rates.) Finally maybe Vivek you could chime in on how many crimes are reported each day in OAk or how many arrests are made- what are the “fines” for those people. My point is that those who don’t have are given a free pass anyway- they get busted, the get a public defender, there are no fines levied they may get jail time for which the taxpayers pay their freight again.
    Have a ticket free labor day weekend.

  205. Ralph

    the rules and fines are different than an ineffective system to address incorrect ticketing.

    sf2oak, i honestly don’t understand the argument pay for only the time you need. it is penny wise and pound foolish. for an additional 50 cent, I can buy 15 minutes. i’d much rather spend 50 cent than $55.

    as to 1 second, 1 minute, 1 hour. it does not matter. i don’t know about you, but my parents were fairly clear on this point. curfew is 9:00, not 9:00:59, not 9:01, it is 9:00.

    still agree there needs to be a better way to address system problems.

    just how would these fastrak like transponders work. if it were up to me, i would require all cars to have them. i would hook them up to the engine and the minute the car starts running i would start deducting ducats.

  206. SF2OAK

    I agree that rules and fines are different than an ineffective system to address incorrect ticketing.

    Parking as has been pointed out on this thread impacts many different aspects of city life.

    The incorrect ticketing is an issue waiting for a resolution it is another broken point in OAK.

    There are meters that you can pay by mobile phone (and it costs you some money to use which goes to the provider of the service and I suspect the city would not have to pay anything if you deliver them the franchise) and it will text you when your meter is about to expire.

    Here is a co that has a system look at the spark where you have a fastrack like device and you simply put it in your window when exiting your vehicle and start it – where it would show enacted to a PCO and stop it when you return for an accurate rental period. How does one know how fast a clerk at city hall will be? so you put in the max. and return in 15 minutes because the clerk that was supposed to be there is on lunch.

    As to your parents strictness – give it a rest- Is OAK that strict on anything else? Why should parking be one area where there is no leniency. What was your punishment?

    In any case this could all be done in a more thoughtful smarter way, instead CC blew it …again and enacted the dopiest most thought less way and has been changing the regulations since it rolled them out (like now I can use that max parking ticket and go to another area and have lunch myself- why on earth was that so hard?

  207. Ralph

    sf2oak, i am just not sympathetic to dimwits who either can’t read a watch or are too cheap to pay an extra 50 cents to buy insurance. if they end up with a $55 ticket, that is the price of stupidity. but that is a situation that existed before the rules changed. so frankly, i don’t think it is point worth discussing. in general, i think oak is too sympathetic to the dimwits. murders should be executed. thieves should have their hands cut off, truants should be removed from their homes and parents locked up and sterilized.

    i am all for the more efficient ways of paying and collecting revenue. i am not so much for city council changing policy on the fly as it has since the new fees and fines went into place. for example, the portable ticket, a change to appease the most dimwitted in society. since i think parking should be more about transportation policy and serving the business, i would argue that not all streets are equal and motorist should pay more at some and less at others.

    I have no problem taking a high value ticket to a low value street. but i have a hard time taking a low value ticket to a high value street.

  208. SF2OAK

    Now I know where you’re coming from – the Singaporean model of justice- it’s not that I think that is bad- after all sidewalks in Singapore are spotless, there’s no graffiti, and I imagine crime is pretty subtle and not too noticeable like here in OAK.

    Guess what we are not going to enact Singaporean crime fighting tactics here.

    For the record OAK did just raise the parking fines so I think it ought to be included in the discussion.

    If OAK citizens are dimwits, then what of the officials that give tickets in error super dimwits? Maybe they should be caned, and furthermore the appeals process ought to get it right and not be a one way ticket.

    And also as far as I know there are no high value/low value ticket areas – it’s $2 hr in all of OAK (which clearly it shouldn’t be if they wanted to manage parking- but we all know this is a poor revenue grab- they may succeed in getting less revenue overall) so why wouldn’t you think that your receipt would not be good anywhere in OAK. You are not issued a receipt for a particular spot you are renting any spot (and as it was you were supposed to purchase the ticket from the nearest kiosk but they never posted that notice and of course have now changed course.

  209. Ralph

    There is a lot to be said for a society where the people are respectful and punishment is swift and severe. the only reason it will not work here is we are used to having too many freedoms.

    To clarify: the high value/low value congestion/demand pricing is where I would like to see the city go. i realize that is not the case now. should the city move in that direction the portable ticket will be useless as not all areas will exhibit the same demand pattern and thus ot the same pricing.

    To the degree the Dept of Pkg Enforcement uses manual processes to issue tickets, I will cut them slack. I hope that it is easy to read the little paid stubs but I’ve no idea. Maybe you bar code the the tix. But if the process is already electronic, I am not willing to cut them as much slack.

    I hate the coin operated machines because if they get jammed you get screwed. I don’t like that the appeal process sucks. For the ticket kiosks, always use a credit card as your stmt gives you proof of pymt.

    I don’t like council changing the rules anymore than the next guy. It is a matter of reacting versus acting. if anyone should be caned council is a prime candidate. They should be leading instead they lack the courage of their convictions to make unpopular decisions. They could have led on Measure OO, but instead they bent over backwards to a bunch of loudmouth children. They could have led on responsible parking / transportation policy but they only thought about how to grab revenue. Businesses for which I have worked try to position themselves for coming out of the downturn. City council and govts in general are inept when it comes to forward thinking.

    We should cane council for being fiscally irresponsible, an inability to make unpopular but proper decisions, and for lacking any sort of vision. We had an oppty to get to as close as can to caning by voting out the deadwood, but our young upstart could not oust NN.

  210. SF2OAK

    Just returned from a paid parking trip downtown- I could not believe the number of handicapped placards. Streets ranged from 30% to 100% cars displaying handicapped placards- we are a city of handicapped. Why don’t they have to pay and why do they get to stay all day? I saw the placards on plenty of nice cars.

    Do I live in a city of handicapped or amoral?

    btw I did see a clever graphic displayed in Lanesplitters next to Quickway concept developed by Michaan anybody know if it’s online?

  211. Dawn

    SF2OAK, yes, I noticed that if you go down by the Alameda Government Center on Oak St., the majority of the cars on the street are flying their handicap placards. Is the majority of Oakland handicapped? I think most of these are bogus. Doctors give them to patients who have sore knees etc. and the user keeps them for six months to a year. Of course some are deserved but if you hang out any large shopping center like a Costco or Best Buy, many of the ‘handicapped’ people have no apparent disability, or issues with their mobility or gait, they then load their car with heavy packages and packages of food!

    I find it ridiculous that these placards allow free parking! What a subsidy. Not only do you get a spot up front, you get a free spot! If the placard holders pay their fair share, there will be more available parking, and more funds so the city doesn’t have to jack up the rates and increase the enforcement hours.

  212. Patrick

    Handicap placards are given to allow those with handicaps equal access. Why do they not have equal access to paying for parking? It really is a system designed for abuse and should be changed. Preferential parking is one thing – preferential FREE parking is quite different.

  213. lin hummel

    yeah, I parked in handicapped for 2 seconds and got a 275.00 ticket in my father in law’s vehicle which had a placard. went to fight it, but didn’t have his id card, just his placard. i guess Fremont is desperate for money.
    guess I have to go without groceries and and necessities, etc. cause they want to be greedy for a 2 second mistake they were staking the space out, so be careful everyone at places like Wells Fargo on Mowry Ave.
    I see people all the time with placards that are using other people’s vehicles and have been with such people just to get a closer space and use that space all day. I get popped using the atm for literally two seconds. these guys have nothing better to do apparently.