Home » POLL: Parking to panhandlers – What’s killing downtown?
Community Voice

POLL: Parking to panhandlers – What’s killing downtown?

Here’s the scenario: It’s lunchtime and you live and work downtown. You’ve been craving Indian food from that little place 12 blocks away from the office – too far to walk, but you don’t want to drive because street parking is expensive and there’s never enough of it. What do you do?

It’s a common frustration for city-dwellers and, as Ed Goldman writes in the Sacramento Business Journal, some people say it’s killing downtown.

“Have you ever tried to drive to lunch around here?” downtown resident Emily Gerber asks Goldman in the article. “You pull up to a restaurant and there’s only one-hour parking, which means you either have to interrupt your lunch to go out and re-park your car or get a ticket that’s, like, $50. This is what’s killing downtown.”

Parking issues are huge with city neighborhoods – note the recent clamor over angled back-in parking in Alkali Flat and a proposed pilot program for Second Saturday parking. And, as anyone who lives or visits downtown knows all too well, it’s tiresome to do the “parking space shuffle” to avoid huge tickets.

Is the answer free parking for all? Doubtful. The city may not be ready to turn off parking meters to calm the quell: parking revenue accounts for $9 million of the city’s general fund and, in this economy, the city needs to hold on to every source of revenue that it can.

The city has taken steps to improve the situation. Many merchants participate in a parking validation program, and on weekends and weeknights, visitors can park for $2 at the public parking garage at 17th Street between Capitol Avenue and L Street, though that’s little help for residents during the workday.

Sure parking is a pain, but is that what’s killing downtown? The city’s urban core has other issues that some might say are equally problematic – not the least of which are panhandlers.

The downtown seems at times to be overrun with an army of aggressive panhandlers (and we’re not talking about downtown James Brown), who can be bold enough to interrupt phone conversations and tap on car windows, making people second-guess their decision to shop in the central city. From Broadway to K Street, business owners have said panhandlers are their number one customer complaint.

Some cities have taken steps to ban panhandling in downtown areas, including Los Angeles, San Francisco and Ft. Lauderdale, FL. Would that work in Sacramento?

What problems do you think need to be addressed about downtown?

Tell us what you think about this topic in today’s poll and give us your suggestions in the conversation below.


Results from yesterday’s poll:
In yesterday’s poll, we asked readers: What should be done to improve rafting on the American River?

58 percent said the county should enact a full alcohol ban on the river
9 percent said we should explore ways to regulate large rafting groups
17.8 percent said to continue as is – it’s not a huge problem
14.8 percent said that, after the latest brawl, law enforcement should step up and more strictly enforce the existing rules

Melissa Corker is a staff reporter for The Sacramento Press. Follow her on Facebook and on Twitter @MelissaCorker.

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