The battle over parking in one Oakland neighborhood is heating up. Business owners in the Grand Lake District say meter maids are going after drivers with disabled placards, and they call it the last straw.
You can park for free if you're in a city stall with a disabled placard, but these tickets went to people who were parked in city lots.
First the meters went up to $2 an hour, then the hours were extended to 8 p.m. The final straw came two weeks ago when parking officers began ticketing cars with disabled placards.
Eighty-three-year-old Marshall Curatolo hung his disabled placard and parked in the city lot near his Grand Lake neighborhood bookstore one day last month just as he's done for the past two years. Only this time he had a $54 dollar waiting for him when he came out.
"A lapse of good judgment," is how Curatolo describes the city's recent decision to issue tickets to drivers using disabled placards in city lots. They never had to pay before, just like parking on city streets. But without any warning, the parking department changed its policy and began enforcing meters in city lots, and with that, came the hefty fines.
"It's a revenue enhancer for the city -- parking has always been," said Curatolo. And for the business owners, he says it's "a burden."
Mayor Jean Quan said she had no idea the parking department implemented the new policy. As soon as she found out, she acted quickly.
"I rolled that back when I found out that that happened at Grand Avenue without them talking to the merchants, without them posting the sign, without giving people a warning notice," said Quan.
The tickets will be rescinded and the policy reviewed by the City Council. However, that's not stopping the owner of the Grand LaTe theater from posting a message on his marquee for city leaders. He also had some choice words for the mayor when she came to the neighborhood recently to promote small business week.
"This is absolutely dishonest and this is the attitude of our city government," said Grand Lake Theater owner Allen Michaan.
Anyone with a legal disabled placard who received a ticket on a city parking lot for non-payment between Aug. 22 and Sept. 1 can contact Noel Pinto, Parking Manager, at (510) 986-2688 or email@example.com.