From the N&R Yesterday. "A subcommittee of city officials and merchants has been studying possible solutions since spring. The group plans to discuss its recommendations Tuesday with the full Downtown Development Advisory Committee. Then any proposals go before council for a vote."
Actually, city officials, DGI, merchants, property owners, big business and out-of-town consultants have been discussing parking problems in Downtown Greensboro for many years. The most recent series of discussions started when an out-of-town consultant arranged to talk to some of the people who are directly affected by parking.
I met with him. I was the only person who attended the meeting. The meeting was set up early so that working people could attend. The meeting was so early that I was not allowed into the City Hall because it was not open to the public yet. When I finally got in, the consultant and I talked about parking downtown for quite a while. I won't go into any details here, but several months later, I was surprised at what was presented to the Downtown Advisory Committee. It was not what I expected.
I attended several meetings where new parking regulations were discussed. Most of the suggestions were very helpful to the nighttime businesses that have been encouraged to make Greensboro Downtown the place to be at night.
Did you know that renting a parking space from the City of Greensboro, only guarantees you a place if you can find a vacant one in one particular lot or parking garking garage from 8am to 6pm. All other times all meters, city lots and garages have unlimited free parking for anyone.
So, what's the deal? Charge the people who work and shop downtown during the day, but let everyone park free at night.
WHAT ARE WE THINKING?
Here are some other thoughts about Downtown Parking (with some corrections in my spelling and grammar) that I posted on the Inside Scoop Blog earlier today.
The 30 minute passenger parking in loading zones was put into place for very short term parking to run in for a cup of coffee, take out food, make a delivery or to load up a purchase that would be a hassel to carry to the parking garage. At the time they were put in, parking in the garages was much more expensive than parking on the street (even if you got a ticket, the fine was less than parking half a day in any of the decks). It seemed like a fairly good idea at the time.
Delivery trucks are NOT as big a problem as some people think. There is plenty of room to drive on either side of even large trucks making deliveries to most nearby retail stores and restaurants.
I have suggested to the City Council and to the Downtown Advisory Board and to Downtown Greensboro Inc. that a good use of some of the extra tax money downtown property owners pay and/or a portion of sales tax paid on purchases in the Central City would be to have traffic cops in the downtown area during a few heavy traffic times to keep the traffic flowing at a reasonable pace.
REALLY ?? You didn't know that a portion of the county sales tax that is collected Downtown comes back to the quasi-judicial non-profit Downtown Greensboro Inc. A large portion of it used to clean up after the bar traffic and to maintain the Cement Park at Elm and Friendly.
My suggestion to use humans to direct traffic has fallen on deaf ears for many years. This solution was used in the "old days" and is used in congested areas of forward-looking cities and in our large, local shopping centers. I guess the shopping centers are trying to be customer friendly, which increases business.
Most of the people who "make the downtown rules" don't have a personal financial interest in downtown and don't seem to care about how hard the parking regulations are on merchants.
For at least the past 30 years, most of the changes in the Central Business District of Greensboro have done more to hurt the area than to help it.
Some of the things that have been done:
*Trying to turn downtown into an outdoor mall with no parking.
*Closing alleyways so that deliveries and maintenance could not be done from behind the buildings.
*Having no bus stops in the shopping/business district of Elm St.
*When city busses cross Elm Street, at Market, Washington, McGee and Lindsey streets, they don't stop to load or unload passengers.
*Having the HEAT (free student transportation vans) run a short loop by the bars two or three nights a week, but never close to daytime shopping.
*Raising the price of metered parking and installing meters that will not register any parking time on them until at least 25 cents has been put into the slot. So if you park for 5 minutes, you still pay for 30.
*Closing streets, making traffic heavier on those left open.
*Removing turn lanes and narrowing streets by extending sidewalks into traffic lanes.
*Installing medians which make auto, bike and pedestrian travel harder and more dangerous.
*Now, there is talk of moving the Visitors' Center from the Downtown area to inside the Coliseum.
I could go on and on, but it probably will not do any good. We need some good ideas about how to improve the downtown. What I meant to say is that we need some officials who will listen to good ideas and then act on them. There is much talk about helping and saving downtown and making it day and night friendly. What a bunch of rot.
I will attend the meeting Tuesday. The talk will not be driven by customers or small business owners.
There is one suggestion that does seems reasonable.
*Use the loading zones for taxi stands during certain hours at night so the drunks can get home safely.
I hope to see you at the meeting.