Theater owner organizes parking protest

August 4, 2009 1:07:24 PM PDT
The owner of the Grand Lake Theater in Oakland said today that he's calling on Oakland merchants to close their businesses on Thursday to protest the city's recent increase in parking fees and hours.

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Allen Michaan said his business has decreased by 50 percent since the new parking policies took effect July 1, and complained that "people are going out of Oakland for dining, entertainment and shopping."

"Oakland has put its businesses on an un-level playing field" with other cities" and predicted "business will fail and close down," he said.

The Oakland City Council voted June 30 to increase parking rates by 50 cents an hour, from $1.50 to $2, and keep parking meters operating until 8 p.m.

City of Oakland spokeswoman Karen Boyd said today that the city hopes to increase its revenues by $4 million a year with its new parking rates and hours.

"The City Council felt that there were not a lot of good choices in balancing the budget," Boyd said.

She said the council had already cut expenses by an "enormous" amount and decided "it needed a little revenue enhancement" by increasing parking rates and hours.

But Michaan said he thinks the increase will be decrease revenues in the long run because fewer people will do business in Oakland and sales and business tax revenue will decrease.

He said he's circulating a petition that asks that the parking policy changes be reversed.

Michaan said he also plans to circulate a petition to recall City Council members if they don't reverse the new policies.

He said he believes the policies must be changed soon because the city is now "training people not to come to Oakland" to do business.

Michaan said he's not sure how many merchants will join him in closing down on Thursday but he plans to have another one-day closure in four weeks and expects more merchants to participate then.

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