With all due respect, as someone who roams downtown St. Paul's streets all the
time for six years now, you significantly overstate the dynamics of downtown
parking. I have no trouble finding a space in Lowertown most times I've tried
to park there. Many of the people parking around the Xcel Center are NOT there
to go to the Xcel Center, but small businesses like Sakura, the Artists'
Quarter, or Candyland. And with a little work, I can usually park on-street
within a few blocks of those places too, even on game nights.
The main problem with the proposal is that the community didn't want it, at
least from anything I've heard. It's being done to avert a budget deficit,
which is partly the product of Mayor Kelly's own fiscal philosphy. But
downtown is saddled with the City's deficit.
Here's why the meter proposal is fatally flawed:
A) IT PUTS US AT A COMPETITIVE DISADVANTAGE TO MINNEAPOLIS. The proposal puts
us at a competitive disadvantage to downtown Minneapolis, which is already
doing a vastly better job in attracting visitors. The Pioneer Press article
suggests most meters in Minneaplis are enforced only 6pm, or earlier. My
impression is most meters aren't enforced on weekends in Minneapolis at all.
Kelly would like to enforce longer on weekdays, and additionally on Satruday.
B) WE JUST RAISED THE METER RATES A YEAR AGO. Increases in parking meter rates
are fine, as long as they follow inflation. Adding hours is a different
C) THIS HURTS DOWNTOWN RESIDENTS, EMPLOYEES, AND SMALL BUSINESSES. While
advocates might say this will be paid mainly by out of town visitors, the truth
is far different. As Mike Fratto, a downtown employee, illustrated, this would
hurt him and diminish the chances he'd stay downtown after work. The
inconvenience would slow business at downtown retailers. And without as many
retail amenities and nighlife, residents (like me) would be affected. Surveys
of residents suggest retail remains a top priority for them. Let's not starve
the retail we have through city action.
D) WHY CHARGE MORE DOWNTOWN FIRST? If you want more money, start charging in
instances where there ALREADY IS a critical mass:
- WEST 7TH TO SMITH AVE INTERSECTION. Only the first block of W 7th west of the
Xcel Center has meters. Smith Avenue, and the side streets between (Chestnut,
Walnut, etc) don't have any meters. Seems to me if you're concerned with
overflow traffic from the Xcel Center, this is where they should go. I'd guess
there's room for around 100 extra meters in the area.
- VICTORIA & GRAND. 1-2 blocks on either side of the intersection on Grand.
Make people pay for the convenience.
- UNIVERSITY OF ST. THOMAS.
- UNIVERSITY OF MINNESOTA-ST. PAUL.
- HIGHLAND VILLAGE.
Wait...would the businesses, and neighbors object? YOU BET! Yeah, these
locations are mostly tounge-in-cheek. But Victoria & Grand, Highland Village,
and West 7th near the Xcel actually HAS nightlife that will continue to exist
after the meter installation. Why recoup money from downtown, where nightlife
is clearly struggling? Other than it being a pretty crummy, election-year
tactic to raise money.
But what's drawn me to speak up is not the Mayor, but because of my established
concern for life in downtown. I may take my further comments to another venue.
Small Business Reactions from the Pioneer Press Article
"It's already hard getting people to come downtown," said Miyoko Omori, who
owns the recently expanded Sakura restaurant at St. Peter and Fourth streets.
"If they can go to the suburbs and get free parking, why should they come
Anthony Andler, owner of the Heimie's Haberdashery and Artists Mercantile
shops, said the later meter hours would derail the downtown momentum that
business owners and civic boosters have worked hard to develop.
"The last thing we need to do is inhibit anybody from coming downtown," Andler
said. "When you're talking about a downtown that's trying to rehabilitate
itself, like St. Paul, then why would you do this?"