Oakland will back down on parking hours

October 6, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
As many Oakland residents found out, you can fight City Hall. In Oakland on Tuesday night an uprising over parking came to a head.

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The main problem was that there was no outreach to the community and little notification when the City Council decided to increase the meter hours and raise parking fees. On Tuesday night, the council backed down under public pressure.

Ninety public speakers lined up to give the city council a piece of their mind.

"It was 7:53 when I got this ticket, going to get a quarter to come back," said an Oakland resident.

They say the city's increased meter hours, are killing business. Shop owners, in Chinatown, say business is down 30 percent because people are getting slammed with every minor infraction, and parking enforcement officers are abusing their authority.

"We were forced to close an hour early because we are not getting any customers in," said Patty Lee from the Hong Kee Market.

The city of Oakland is desperately trying to close an $83 million budget gap, but rolling back the meter times will lead to a projected loss in fines of about $900,000. So how will they make up the difference? Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan wants to increase fines for people who misuse disabled parking placards from $170 to $1,200.

The Chinatown merchants conducted their own survey.

"Yesterday we walked seven blocks around City Hall and there were a 150 placards," said Carl Chan from the Chinatown Merchants Association.

Some council members want more solid numbers, but others are relying on creative financing.

"I think that we can be fairly confident we could probably reach this goal between these different sources," said city councilmember Jean Quan.

So they voted to rollback the meter times to 6 p.m., but they don't know how they'll make up the lost revenue. The council wants to study the fraudulent use of disabled placards to see if those potential fines can actually help make up the loss.

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