When downtown businesses shoot the city in the foot: Parking wars

You know those parking meters at The Greene? The ones where payment is optional and goes to charity? You know how you don’t have to pay for parking at any business anywhere in the suburbs? That The Greene has not one, not two, but THREE parking garages- and they are all FREE?

And then we have downtown Dayton. No, this isn’t one of those get-rid-of-parking-meter rants by some idiot. Parking meters serve a very important purpose- making sure there are spaces for people who just have to run in and run out. Otherwise, the early bird downtown workers would all fill the on-street parking spaces- and no one would go downtown. At least not in a car.

But, we have meters- and the dreaded parking meter maids. You get a ticket and it’s $5 or $10 and it’s no big deal in the grand scheme of things.

Not so in the Oregon District. While everyone knows not to park in the lot next to the porn shop – which sits empty most of the time (even the people going into the porn shop don’t want to park there for fear of being singled out)- recently two establishments have been having a feud and pissing off patrons galore.

Roost and Lucky’s Tap Room are going at it hot and heavy. Lucky’s is probably pissed about losing the spaces out front for Roost’s valet service- and decided to start towing people who park in their little side lot- adding a $100 towing fee to anyone who doesn’t take heed. Now, granted- it’s a private lot, and there are signs. And, it’s happening often- so the first thing Roost should do is to ask where you parked- and have the valet move the car if it’s in Lucky’s lot.
However, if the Lucky’s owners really want to keep their spots free for their customers, they could make their first move by asking the people at Roost to please stop in after their meal to have a beer or two at Lucky’s – or make a donation to a charity much like they do at The Greene. Instead of calling a tow company- get a boot- but, label it a charity boot.

The real question is why has the city not built a garage behind the EPA building, even with a nominal parking fee of $1-$3 – it could change the district into a really amazing place. All the parking spaces out front- could be used for extended patios- closing off the street to cars entirely would make for an awesome party district (especially since the street isn’t even fit to drive on). The garage could even have mixed uses- with more retail on the first floor- and a rooftop party deck- or housing on top. This is an economic development project worthy of tax dollars and would help many businesses- instead of handouts to single companies who promise the world and deliver squat.

For all the money we’ve poured into the Downtown Dayton Partnership- what the Oregon District is still in need of most is public infrastructure to support the businesses. Towing customers is just sending a message to take your money elsewhere and helps no-one in the long run.

(This post was for S.T., who had her car towed on Friday night.)

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