By Colin Walsh
Now is not the time to put the retail that has managed to survive in Downtown Davis in jeopardy by instituting parking fees.
CNBC reported today that nationally, “Already, 4,810 store closures have been announced by retailers in 2019, according to Coresight Research.” Only 5,524 store closing were tracked by Coresight in 2018. 2019 thus far is proving to be a fatal year for retail. (https://www.cnbc.com/2019/03/08/these-retailers-have-announced-store-closures-in-2019.html)
It is clearly a challenging climate for physical stores, and the City of Davis should be careful not to make it any more difficult locally.
In Davis we are very fortunate to have a vibrant downtown that includes several independent and locally owned retailers. In Davis we still have the choice to shop at locally owned hardware stores, bookstores, and more. These stores have disappeared from the landscape in most cities. Locally owned stores like this do more for the local economy by keeping more money locally. Large chains and online stores literally siphon money out of the community to pay CEOs and investors and offer only a few low paying local jobs in return.
When 40 plus downtown merchants including some of the longest lasting and largest Davis stores are willing to voice an opinion to the City Council, it is important that the City Council listen. A few others have claimed the Council should rely on the paid parking experts in determining what to do next. One member of the public at the March 5 City Council meeting even derided local businesses as relying on “folk wisdom” in their opposition to paid parking. (Link to video)
Our local business owners are professionals and experts in their fields. Three business owners that spoke at that council meeting together represent 150 years of local business experience between them. These business owners know the particulars of Davis’s dynamics and customers inside and out. To say they are relying merely on “folk wisdom” is downright insulting.
What I don’t think people understand is this. Our locally owned businesses are operating on thin margins. They need only lose a small percentage of their business to force them into unprofitable territory where they cannot survive.
Paid parking only needs to discourage a relatively small number of shoppers from coming downtown to turn a successful business into another shuttered store front.
The City’s paid parking scheme need not even reduce the number of trips downtown to kill a business, it need only change why people come downtown. If bar and restaurant patrons are still willing to pay, but retail customers would rather park for free at Target or Home Depot that could cause locally owned retail shops to close.
The Davis City Council needs to work to maintain a Downtown Environment where our businesses can survive and thrive. Given the terrible climate for brick and mortar stores as reported by CNBC, the council needs to listen when 40 plus local businesses express concern about an elaborate new restrictive paid parking scheme.
If the City Council passes paid parking, I support a referendum to overturn their bad decision.
The following 66 businesses have voiced opposition to the City’s paid parking plan:
Carol LaPerle LMFT
Cloud Forest Cafe
Cookery and Company
Crème de la Crème
Davis Ace Hardware
Dawn Coder CB Select RE
DCCNS Parent Cooperative Preschool
Elizabeth Middleton MFT
Ellen Cohen PHD
Hastings Back Porch
Helen Krell PHD
Integrated Accounting Solutions
John Natsoulas Gallery
Kobe Mini Mart
Laili Mcgrew LCSW
Law Office of Derraugh Dawson
Lawrence Shweky Psychotherapy
Lift Pilates + Post Rehab
Lori Prizmich and Associates
Mahnaz Kashani Stylist
Majestic Psychological Services
Mark Corey PHD
Nelson van Dissen Properties
The Paint Chip
Ralph Hwang Property Management
Rebecca Brunette LCSW
Rebecca Witter LMFT
Roger Smith Properties
Samantha Marquette Cosmotologist
Sarah's Alterations & Ecocleaners
Simmons Real Estate
Skin Renewal Center
Smith Funeral Home
Soul Wisdom Therapy
Teach Your Children
Teena Hosey LCSW
Vivienne Roseby PHD
Volleys Tennis Shop