Paid parking has been brought before council dozens of times, always with false urgency. Until now, it has always been voted down because the public is overwhelmingly against it and it would hurt business. Since this is still inarguably true, how did we get to the point that the City is about to install parking meters on all streets and lots in the heart of downtown?
In 2014 the Council voted unanimously against paid parking yet in 2017 the same members voted unanimously for it. What happened in the interim is a sad lesson in politics. What casual observers didn't know was that the 2014 Council really wanted paid parking but were waiting for the right political moment to pass it. So they appointed a Parking Task force to study the issue and stacked it with enough obvious proponents of paid parking, even the private owner of the G St parking garage, that they knew the Task force would do the expected and return a report favoring paid parking.
With that report in hand the Council could install meters without taking full responsibility for implementing such a regressive tax that would be paid by grudging citizens and drive customers and eventually businesses out of downtown. But Council went one further. The Parking Task force report gave a thorough overview of the problem, including mention of how Council had been systematically removing spaces thus causing the shortage, and listed several solutions such as increased supply and better management of existing space which all were to be addressed BEFORE paid parking went in.
Council or someone on city staff reversed these recommendations so that parking meters are now the first thing being done and the sensible and easier solutions (but ones that don't make the city money) are back burnered or, in the case of recovering the 100 spaces the city removed piecemeal for aesthetics or other unnecessaries, ignored altogether.
So with the parking meters we have a Council that systematically created a problem by removing spaces from downtown then promoted their "solution" to the problem in the form of a tax on parking downtown. When that met opposition they used back door shenanigans to get the same thing presented to them by a rubber stamp committee they appointed and then even ignored the real solutions the same committee brought up.
We have a mayor and council who are willing to work long term AGAINST the interests and will of the majority of the population and expend much resources and energy doing what 90% of Davis does not want. When downtown businesses, customers, employees and friends rallied against paid parking, the city ignored or bureaucratically buried their concerns and forged ahead with their own agenda.
If I sound cynical sadly I was not cynical enough. When I heard in Nov 2017 that Council would vote on paid parking, I thought that matter had been discussed and that the Council would vote against it like the dozens of other times and like it had just two years previously. I didn't see any reason to show up again and point out how horrible paid parking would be for businesses downtown. I expected Council to have heard us the last times and to do what was right, consistent, and democratic.
I did not know that Council and their co-conspirators on city staff and DDBA had spent the last two years in Machiavellian manipulations against downtown and the will of the people. But now I do. Council has used House of Cards tactics to force hurtful measures they know we do not want through the back door. What we don't know is if they will dare to do the same thing out in the open and to our face. Let's all show up this Tuesday 3/5 at the meeting when paid parking is on the agenda again and see.