City Council is considering whether to remove time limits for on-street parking in the Downtown Parking District.
In the meantime, the holiday season is rapidly approaching. Last year, the time limits for on-street parking were extended from 2 hour limits (once a day per block face) to 4 hour limits. City Council would like to have feedback from downtown businesses about your preference for this coming holiday period (November 29 through January 3). Please indicate your preference below. We would like to compile the results based on type and size of business.
1. Free customer parking is offered on-street and in the parking garages. For this upcoming holiday shopping season, from November 29 to January 3, would you prefer to see the on-street spaces:
Free customer parking is offered on-street and in the parking garages. For this upcoming holiday shopping season, from November 29 to January 3, would you prefer to see the on-street spaces:
-- Limited to Four Hour Free Customer Use
-- Limited to Two Hour Customer Use
-- No time limits for Customer Use
Either illogic or political shenanigans are at play when the City is simultaneously claiming (A) that it is considering adopting the Stop Parking Meters Downtown citizen initiative that bans time limits for onstreet downtown parking (other than in fifty 30 minute spaces), and (B) is considering reinstating 4 hour limits for onstreet parking during the holiday period.
Can't do both, City Council. At least, you can't do both ethically. And maybe legally.
At its October 14 meeting the Council is going to decide whether to reject the citizen petition, which puts it on the May 2014 ballot, as the Stop Parking Meters Downtown folks much prefer, or to accept it and put the initiative provisions into effect immediately, without a vote.
Those provisions don't include any mention of a 4 hour parking limit during the upcoming holiday season. So if the City adopts the initiative, that 4 hour parking limit would be banned.
Unless, and here we get to the unethical scenario...
The Council were to bizarrely adopt the initiative, then almost immediately start changing the initiative's provisions by putting the holiday 4 hour parking limit into effect. This, of course, would undermine the whole idea behind citizen initiatives.
Which are to give people a voice, when their elected representatives aren't listening.
The Salem City Council is well aware that Carole Smith and her band of Stop Parking Meters Downtown advocates got almost 9,000 signatures on their petition in a short time. Almost certainly Salemians would approve the initiative if given a chance to vote on it in May 2014.
If that happened, it would be politically disastrous for the Council to ignore the will of those voters and start tinkering with the initiative provisions. But like I said in my recent Salem Weekly column:
So why is the City Council apparently leaning toward adopting the initiative petition at its October 14 meeting, since previously councillors and the Mayor were pushing hard for downtown parking meters?
Likely, because they don’t want voters to resoundingly approve the Stop Parking Meters Downtown initiative in the May 2014 election. If this happens, the political repercussions of later overturning the Will of the People would be much more severe than if the City Council ends up overturning the Will of 9,000 Petition Signers.
Hopefully, the survey of downtown businesses is only seemingly grounded in illogical or unethical motivations, because the Council actually won't adopt the citizen initiative at the October 14 meeting.
If this is the case, then a 4 hour holiday season limit could be reasonably put into effect by the Council, since the initiative petition wouldn't be voted on until May 2014 and the current 2 hour limit would be in effect until then.
That said, since Council members have been unanimously favoring moving ahead with parking meters until now, there's good reason to be suspicious of the Council's newfound desire to ban downtown parking meters and parking time limits by adopting the initiative.
I find it hard to believe that the City Council and Mayor would be so dismissive of Oregon's much-beloved citizen initiative statutes that they would deliberately put the Stop Parking Meters Downtown initiative into effect so it could be undermined as quickly and as politically quietly as possible.
Imagine if other government jurisdictions did this. Such might be illegal, but seemingly it would be possible to prevent an initiative from being voted on by adopting it. Then, the jurisdiction could immediately de-adopt it. Or at least, start dismantling it via passage of laws/ordinances at odds with the initiative.
Which would happen if the Salem City Council were to adopt the Stop Parking Meters Downtown initiative petition, then pass a motion to have 4 hour parking limits during the holiday season.
Again, I'm hoping that the Council isn't considering doing this, even though the survey of downtown businesses sure implies that this reprehensible action could happen.
Check out the excellent reasons on the Stop Downtown Parking Meters web site for why the Salem City Council should allow citizens to vote on the initiative. Excerpt: