Monday, October 09, 2006

Parking meter Disneyland

Little bit of local business here.  The city council is proposing to add parking meters to a non-downtown section of Portland, and the locals aren’t too thrilled with it.

      When Hawthorne businesses fire back with concerns that meters would drive shoppers to areas such as Lloyd Center with free parking, Adams says the meter revenue could help them fight off bigger competitors. His premise: Meters would help to manage increasingly tight parking and generate cash for programs that could benefit the neighborhood.

Commissioner Sam Adams claims that this worked in a section Pasadena, California.  To which we say:  “Where’s the good in being just like California?”

      Old Pasadena's longtime business owners agree that meters have significantly boosted business by funding revitalization programs and better managing parking. But they also say the area's commercial success forced out nearly every independent store in the area, making it into an eight-square-block commercial wonderland.

The Disneyland-ification of neighborhoods.  One of the critical arguments here is that Hawthorne is exactly where people go when they want to escape from the Starbucks/Pier One/Gap type of shopping world.  It’s exactly what people don’t want.  You should have seen how hard they fought the installation of a McDonalds in that area.

      Despite what's happened in Old Pasadena, Adams still believes parking meters are worth considering in Portland along Hawthorne, especially if neighborhood groups use the meter revenue to fund programs that directly combat gentrification. For example, he says, Hawthorne groups could start a land trust, in which land owned by the city or business association could be leased at below-market rates to businesses the community considers appropriate and constructive for the area. Additionally, they could advertise the area and feature independent businesses.

OK, here’s where Adams starts freaking me out.  Managed urban landscapes are what you make of them.  I’m not really sure what he’s after here.  The only reason he has for putting the meters in is to create funds to improve the area, but the residents aren’t too thrilled about that.  So is there something else? 

I really disagree with commerce being this controlled by the city or a group of high minded individuals deciding what is “appropriate and constructive.”  It’s artificial and has just the same potential to be as fake as that street in Pasadena.

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