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November 10, 2009

The city invites you to voice concerns about Walnut Creek's parking, including any gripes you have about those private lots!

I have read those reports in which the city says it has enough parking, if not on the street, then in its various public and private garages around town.

You know, I can’t dispute the city’s contention. I do usually find parking in the garages, when I decide to not be lazy and to forego finding a street space right in front of a business I want to patronize. However, I rarely find parking in the garage behind Macy’s and Nordstrom, especially on Saturdays or Sundays. Consequently, I rarely shop at either store—not that I’m a big shopper anyway—but sometimes I have wanted to go to either store and have encountered a pretty frustrating parking experience.

I digress. As usual.

What are your parking pet peeves? The city's Downtown Parking Task Force is seeking your input with this survey. And, the city is asking you to comment on those private downtown lots. That's my pet peeve, as I will explain momentarily. Here is what the city says:

If you've ever come to downtown Walnut Creek, you've got an opinion on parking. Here's your chance to share it, with a quick online survey created by the Downtown Parking Task Force.From street parking to parking garages, the Task Force wants to know what works for you, and what doesn't. The answers will help the Task Force achieve its mission of "Making Parking Work in Downtown Walnut Creek.

Deadline for answering the survey is 5 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 14

In case you're interested, here are a Crazy Soccer Mom's pet peeves:

First, I think the city should align its meter holidays with all federal or state holidays—or any holidays that city offices are closed. I’ve stated this before, and I know some of you are tired of hearing me gripe about this.

Second, the city and the Downtown Business Association need to seriously look at the negative image created by the company or companies that manage the private lots around town. I have covered this perplexing private parking issue before, by citing expert legal opinion that tickets issued by these private companies have no force of law. But that doesn't stop them from trying to scare you into thinking they do.

By the way, Robert Power, the past president of the Downtown Business Association heads Regional Parking, which manages parking facilities throughout the San Francisco Bay Area, including Walnut Creek. "Our goal is to ensure customer parking, discourage illegal parking and create convenient employee parking alternatives," the company's website says.

Mr. Power, I hope you don’t take offense by this post, but I have to say that many of the complaints I hear about downtown parking centers on public confusion--and a perception among motorists--that these lots are not all that welcoming to visitorsand in fact see visitors as a way to make an easy buck.

Sorry, but that's the perception.
And, if the city and Downtown Business Association are truly serious about generating good will among patrons to their community, they will look at this issue.

Some of these private lots have meters, and those meters can be confusing. I’ve seen people at the private lot behind Peet’s coffee, on a Sunday morning, for example, trying to make sense of why those meters are in force on a Sunday morning.


Meters don’t usually operate on Sundays, right? Oh, but wait, those are city-run meters, and, but, wait, what does that sign say? These meters are private? What is that all about? What’s the difference between a private meter and a city meter? If I get a ticket, do I have to go to court? Will it hurt my driving record? For the record, no it won't. According to a report in the East Bay Express, as a private company, Regional Parking doesn't have access to confidential DMV address information. "Therefore, drivers could theoretically ignore a ticket from the company without consequence unless they later parked in a private lot patrolled by the company."

A couple evenings before Halloween, my son and I stopped in at the Spirit Store, housed in the former Mark Morris tire business at Mt. Diablo Boulevard and Locus Street. The meters there demand to be fed until 11 p.m., five hours past when the city-run meters shut down. Lots of people were trying to get in their last-minute Halloween shopping, and lots of people were trying to park in that lot.

Sure, the owners of the lot have a right to charge, but they had their enforcers out in full force, ready to write tickets to those whose meters had run out. The image was of a property owner, eager to reap whatever small profit he/she could from the crowds of Halloween shoppers.
Here, I was spending dollars in downtown Walnut Creek. And so were a lot of other people, and the parking lot owner and/or manager was trying to rake in every other last penny he/she could.

Well, if you want to fill out the survey, again, here is the link.

16 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hope Mr Power reads your message.and takes it to heart. Does his company have the authority to tow cars?

Anonymous said...

"A couple evenings before Halloween, my son and I stopped in at the Spirit Store, housed in the former Mark Morris tire business at Mt. Diablo Boulevard and Locus Street."

Gee, I just parked at the garage AROUND the corner and didn't have any problem. Is it that hard to park in a garage? I mean really, now, REALLY? Are you too lazy to do even that? And then have the nerve to complain about not enough parking?

wcv said...

The private guys threaten to tow you if you park there again.

I doubt they would do it unless you are a serial repeat offender.

Anonymous said...

Oh yes, they will tow. My wife parked in the small privately-monitored lot behind Va Di Vi to run to the Apple Store. She fed the meter, but took too much time in the store. When she returned, her car was gone. Two frantic calls later (one to me and one to the number on the sign) and we discovered that we could go pick it up off North Main in the tow yard. It turns out we had an unpaid prior offense. I have no problem accepting responsibility for an unpaid ticket, but towing on the 2nd offense is a bit harsh.

Masterlock said...

As my father says, "There is nothing you need in Walnut Creek that you can't get somewhere else." I live in and love Walnut Creek, but it's hard to argue with. I stopped to run into a shop the other day and was horrified to see that a quarter gets you 15 minutes these days in a meter, how SF like. I do think there are enough garages for normal flow, but will do my best to steer clear this holiday season when things get insane.

Soccer Mom said...

Dear 10:39:
Guilty as charged. On that evening, I was TOO lazy to go around to the garage, unlike I normally do.

I wasn't the only Lazy Shopper that night at the Spirit Store. There were lots of us Lazy A****. How dare we think we can park in a LOT right in front of the store we want to shop at? You know, I'm not talking about parking in the street in front. I'm talking about a LOT that one would assume is there to accommodate the people shopping in THAT store.

Silly, silly us. Crazy us.

And those parking guys were right there ready to hand out those tickets. I'm sure whoever manages the lot knew that there would be a rush at the store.

Yes, the owner of that private lot, I guess, has the right to charge. Then again, what message does that send to shoppers. It's not a very welcoming one.

Anonymous said...

Reading is a wonderful skill. When parking by a meter I read the rules, yes sometimes they are confusing, but they usually state the hours and holidays.

Spend the extra 5 seconds reading to save yourself from getting towed.

Better yet skip the meter spots and head for a garage.

Anonymous said...

You know, sometimes I'm grateful for the many mentally challenged people from WC who refuse to park in the garages, because that means more space for me. So on second thought, please do not park in the garages, please drive around and around and around the street until you find a spot, and don't read the instructions either. That way you free up space for me and more intelligent folks at the garages, you increase tax revenue for the city, and you can continue to complain on the blogs at how unjust parking in WC is. It's a win-win-win for everyone.

Up3rd said...

Parking related, sort of.... How about WC gets smart and builds large easy access FREE lots on the perimeters of downtown and runs more free shuttles (electric QUIET ones), closes off Locust and Main to vehicle traffic and makes it pedestrian (other than a one-way lane for the shuttles), takes the 'freed up' street space and converts it to nicely developed kiosk-style retail and specialty food vendors and other retail that might be too small to warrant a full shop's worth of rent on these streets, and then uses the money earned from leasing these retail spaces in the 'pedestrian' zone of downtown to pay for the free parking and structures? I love downtown Walnut Creek (though I loved it more 25 years ago) but I hate the fact that cars and shoppers screw it up!

And don't even get me started on that stupid crosswalk across Mt. Diablo that connects the Nordstrom side with the Il Fornaio side-- what a joke!

Anonymous said...

Gee, given what some readers have said, there is no parking issue in Walnut Creek, so why is the city doing a survey? Maybe because there IS an issue. It will be interesting to see what the survey results show.

I find parking in garages just fine but I've had friends, visiting from out of town get tickets in those private lots. I think SM's right: they make for bad PR for the city. That story about the man having his car towed after a second offense. C'mon, the city can do better than that.

Anonymous said...

I don't shop there. I can find what I want far more conveniently elsewhere. I don't mind walking, but I'll be damned if I pay to shop somewhere.

It's a win-win-win for me.

Anonymous said...

Masterlock- I couldn't have said it better myself!

I live in WC as well, but will happily take my shopping elsewhere.

Kate

Masterlock said...

1:12 yesterday has an excellent point, that crosswalk between Il Fornio drives me insane if I have the misfortune of driving on Mt. Diablo. I get that the pedestrians can push the little button and get the right of way, but allowing traffic to flow through when the light is green is just common courtesy.

Anonymous said...

Masterlock,

Don't you know that there is no such thing as "common courtesy" anymore?

It is all about ME, Me, ME. Stepping off a curb into a crosswalk while chatting on a cell phone without looking either way; not pushing the flasher button provided to cross at Il Fornio; entering a crosswalk after the "little man" has turned red; jaywalking; driving around town with loud music playing and windows down; being the second car to enter an intersection on the amber light; not using turn signal lights; double parking on narrow streets to pick up a passenger; making right turns on red lights without allowing right of way; parking an SUV in a compact slot; etc., etc., etc.

Anonymous said...

You forgot about having whatever motorcycle pipes you want on your bike.

Anonymous said...

So after feeding the meter in front of the spirt store 4 different times during the hour I was there, the day after Halloween (didn't think it would take so long) I still got a ticket. So since I had made a very serious effort to keep that meter fed I filed for an appeal. It was denied. (no surprise there)

What shocked and angered me was that in order to have it arbitrated by the third party I was going to have to send in the $25.00 along with my request to have it go to the next level!! If I did not send in the $25.00 it would not be considered.
Does anyone know anything about the "neutral third party"? How are they chooses? Credentials? How do they get paid?