Revitalizing downtown is a necessary process that seems to have wide support from residents, for good reason. To this end, the measure passed last Tuesday by the City Council included one smart, effective component with wide citizen support – reducing the draconian provisions that allowed the City to dictate a restaurant’s menu – and one very questionable component – removing the parking requirement and allowing restaurants to expand without adding any parking. The letters to the City Council show a clear pattern. Most oppose eliminating the parking requirement. And when you eliminate letters from shop owners and landlords, the vast majority of the letters oppose reducing parking downtown. Yet the councilmembers, except for Toni Iseman, chose to ram this change through with very little input from the residents who will foot the bill.
Why wasn’t the smart, effective solution – eliminating draconian rules – separated out into another provision that could be voted on separately from the controversial parking requirements? Is it because some city leaders hope to make the parking situation even worse, thereby backing us residential taxpayers into a corner so we will have no choice but to approve the costly parking structure that was voted down a few years ago?
Another disappointment about the Tuesday vote: Councilman Peter Blake operates a business downtown. He clearly had a vested interest at stake. Shouldn’t he have recused himself?
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