My guess: Mary Goloff is kicking the farmers off the parking lot so she can sell a parking lot to Tom DiGiovanni

13 Jun

I got some freaked out e-mails, and then I read the story in the paper this morning – Mary Gol0ff is calling for an end to the Farmer’s Market agreement? Wow, what got up her ass? 

At first I thought she was just desperate to raise revenues, desperate enough to nickel and dime the Farmer’s Market? 

No, that’s not it – compared to our current deficit, the annual fees for every Saturday morning at the plaza wouldn’t amount to a drop in the bucket. I’m going to throw this out there – they want to surplus a parking lot – maybe even THAT parking lot – and they want the CCFM offa there.   Whether they are planning to sell that lot the farmers are on now, or whether they just want to free up Saturday morning parking on paper so they can surplus that other lot over on Salem, I don’t know. I do know, Tom DiGiovanni has proposed major developments –  “live-work” units –  for both of those sites, as well as other Downtown lots. 

The Downtown parking discussion has been, like the farmer’s market discussion, a political football. The Friends of Downtown and many people from the Certified Farmer’s Market have added nothing to the discussion, raising an hysterical howl that blots out any intelligent conversation on the matter. I’m tired of hearing about the merits of the farmer’s market – that’s not the real issue here.   It’s been impossible to get anybody Downtown, except ex-mayor Carl Ory, to admit there are plans being discussed to put residential development on city-owned parking lots. Tom DiGiovanni has been pushing this plan for years.

A view of the creekside promenade envisioned as part of New Urban Builders’ proposed East First Street project, circa 2005.IMAGE COURTESY OF ENVISION DESIGN, BERKELEY

This picture above is the plan for the old Wascomat building currently occupied by businesses like Solutions Cubed and the Little Red Hen. Retail on the bottom, offices on the second floor, small high-end apartments on top. And cement right up to the creek, with a small public walkway. The plan includes NO PARKING. None of New Urban’s plans call for parking.  They will bring residents Downtown without providing for their cars. 

I know, I’ve said, there is currently no lack of parking Downtown. I mean, there are plenty of spaces to accommodate the folks who currently go Downtown, even if they can’t expect to pull right up to the  front door of the business they are patronizing.  

But I realize, that’s during the week day.  At night, when restaurants are busy, or when the Thursday Market has streets shut down, and on weekends when people drive in, those precious out-of-town shopper we are losing hand-over-fist, there is a parking shortage. Try patronizing a restaurant – you have to drop the family off on the curb at go look for a spot. Try picking up to-go food – thank god my kids have gotten old enough to drive, that’s another two man job – drop one person off at the curb and circle the block waiting for them to appear with the bag. 

No, I don’t feel any need at present for a parking structure – not unless Downtown property owners will pay for it. I won’t have a bond put on my property taxes to pay for something that benefits a small portion of the city. They need to come up with the money from assessments of Downtown  property owners. Why should Raley’s pay property taxes on their parking lot to subsidize Downtown businesses? 

But neither am I interested in surplussing lots. That’s desperation on Goloff’s part. She’s freaking out. She’s just realized why they let her be the mayor. 

When we had the surplus parking lot discussion Downtown a month or so ago, Brian Nakamura put the kybosh on any talk of what the parking lots would be used for when they are surplussed. He’s no dummy, he knows the idea of live-work units is not going over good, and he doesn’t want it to muck up the conversation about selling the lots. He’s just desperate to raise revenues right now, he doesn’t want some community roaring up his ass. 

Well, back to work, I want to get my dinner made by noon, so I don’t have to work in a hot kitchen later. 

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