Putting parking meters in downtown Salem (Oregon) strikes me as a dumb idea. There might be a way for them to make sense, but the current City of Salem leadership doesn't seem capable of heading in that direction.
Carole Smith -- a downtown resident, business owner, and building owner -- agrees.
Recently she emailed me some thoughts about why downtown businesses are so negative about the parking meter proposal. And why they're irritated at how the City has been treating them.
I've mildly edited Carole's message, which she gave me permission to share. Carole says:
I haven't talked to anyone downtown who is against parking meters if they were needed as a parking management tool. The business owners would be coming to the City Council begging for meters if parking was a problem. But this isn't happening. That's one sign meters are being proposed for the wrong reason.
I am sure the City is sitting back after the bruising they got at the Statesman Editorial Board -- they are redesigning their message to make it sound like parking meters are a wonderful asset to downtown and they will pooh-pooh anyone who intimates they are doing this for money.
They did the same thing when they put in time limits. At first it was all about money for the city, then it changed suddenly to "we have to have them to manage parking."
I want to restore some hope to the downtown business owners with the initiative petition. Hope that they can have some control over their downtown and they can get the city to stop financially raping them and their customers.
In the past three years the city has terminated two downtown organizations. That means our tax money is being spent to pay for new logos, websites, stationery, office equipment, etc. each time a new organization is created.
Now the Salem City Manager has hand-selected 15 people to meet secretly with her, in secret locations, at unpublished times -- so they can confer with her about how the city can spend our downtown association money. And now we hear they are using our money to build ANOTHER website. When does this stop?
Downtown business and property owners pay two taxes to fund our downtown organization: the Economic Improvement District tax is paid by property owners and raises $200,000 annually; the Parking District tax, paid by the business owners, was created in 1976 "for a program of downtown promotions, and a program of public parking." For years it funded our downtown organization.
Now the City has changed their ordinance to allow the City to take all those funds and spend them any way they see fit. We have a city with a budget of over $100 million and the City Manager is spending her time figuring out how to grab and spend our $300,000. Shouldn't she have more important things to do?
The Salem Downtown Partnership was terminated solely because they were organizing opposition to the parking meter installation, and they were promoting a Streetscape project the City couldn't control. How do you think city officials who act like that will ever do anything right for Salem's citizens?
Not everyone is against parking meters, but 90% are so long as meters are being proposed by the City of Salem for the wrong reason.