Back into the Parking Meter Debate
If, as a businessman, you have a product or service that you cannot sell for a dollar, would you increase the price in an effort to see it? I think not, but that is exactly what Mayor Bartlett and his advisers are proposing. They propose to increase the price of parking in parking spaces that are not used. I am sure that parkers will flock to unused parking spaces for which the city proposes charging twice as much as it charges now.
The reality is that most people who come downtown to do business come and go in a short amount of time. They come and go without regard to whether anything is charged for the "privilege" of parking on the street. They just want to do their business and get on with their business. There are those who game the system to park on the streets for longer periods of time by plugging the meters.
The primary reason that there is a shortage of short-term street level parking in the very core of downtown between 9am and 3pm is that the city does not enforce the two hour limit on the use of any given space and does not prevent chain parking. Off and on in the past, the city has made some effort to enforce the two hour limit, but that effort has been inconsistent and ineffective.
If you really want to fix downtown Tulsa, you need to do four things:
1. Get rid of the one way streets;
2. Provide better security (many people are afraid of downtown);
3. Provide free on-street parking and enforce limits on the use of the free parking; and
4. Relocate services provided to the homeless away from the core of Downtown.
Jacking up the price of parking will cause further harm to what businesses remain in downtown Tulsa that sell goods or services to the public. The city currently extracts $400,000 in tribute (meter fees and parking violation fines) from visitors to downtown Tulsa for the "privilege" of coming downtown during the business day to do business. The proposal being put forward by the Mayor will extract $1 million from the same people without any corresponding benefit.
If the goal is to drive short-term visitors off the streets and into the structured parking garages, the price of street-level parking is going to have to exceed the price of parking off street by enough to essentially force parkers to elect to park off-street, which is always less convenient, and walk to their ultimate destination.
Downtown Tulsa is broken. It is broken because of the way the City insists on "managing" those aspects of Downtown Tulsa that it controls.
Downtown Tulsa was Tulsa's central shopping center before Utica Square, Southland, Southroads, Woodland Hills, etc. were built. The developers of those competitors to downtown Tulsa believed that if they created better places to shop, shoppers would abandon downtown Tulsa. They were right. John Woodard, a prominent local lawyer, told me recently that he wrote a letter to the developer of Utica Square in 1954 or so suggesting that they install parking meters in their new shopping center at 21st and Utica. He said that he received a polite response advising him that the free parking was an essential aspect of the business model for Utica Square. Free parking is an essential element of every shopping center and commercial office building property everywhere in the city except in the very core of downtown Tulsa.
When and only when the city government gets that it is about convenient access and use will there be any hope at all of reversing the course of Downtown Tulsa.
I am almost 70 years old. I have lived and worked in Downtown Tulsa for near 40 years. There are fewer people working and doing business downtown today than at any time in the last 40 years, and there will be fewer working and doing business in downtown Tulsa next year if the City Council goes along with the proposal being made by the Mayor.
How We Went from the Fiscal Cliff to the Fiscal Ditch
Congress claims they have to avoid going "over the cliff" financially while they continue to kick the can down the road. What a joke.
The 100 year old income tax is an abysmal failure. It is unfair and the only ones who benefit from it are congressional lobbyists and congressmen on the take. The Fair Tax HR25 and S13 will replace the income tax with a fair consumption tax by eliminating the IRS.
All tax measures must originate in the House Ways and Means Committee. The bill has been shelved there for over 5 years without a vote. It is time to pressure our representatives to do the right thing and move this bill out of committee and on the floor of the House for a vote.
Anyone doubting the Fair Tax only need to realize what would happen to the economy if every person received their full paycheck/retirement every payday and every business never has to report anything to the IRS ever again. Think it through and support the Fair Tax.
--Roy T. Newsom
Here's a Cheery Thought
A Song of Sorrow
The big are getting bigger
The rich are getting richer
The sick are getting sicker
The poor are getting poorer
The evangelicals are dead with devils
The right righteous have no callin'
The godly now have fallen
The liberals are no longer tryin'
The Good God is cryin'
Our freedom is asunder
Our Good have gone under
In America ... evil reigns
We are bound of in chains
Of greed and sin
Never to be free again
--J. Ray Hunt
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