I’ve lived in Davis for 39 years. Most of them I wasn’t a disabled senior, but I am now. I like shopping downtown but find its parking disappearing just when I need it more.
Downtown businesses know this problem and encouraged me to attend Downtown Parking Task Force meetings to give a parking consumer perspective. Its second meeting on Jan. 10 was a welcoming environment where I learned a lot. Graphics confirmed parking is increasingly scarce in the downtown core. I also learned problems are minimized by calling lots by empty storefronts north of the Davis Food Co-op “downtown parking” and calling eliminated downtown core parking no net loss when spaces were created blocks away. I asked staff for data on how much parking was eliminated in the downtown core, and they promised it.
A meeting in February was different. Appointees segregated themselves from the rest of us at one end of a room and created an exclusionary climate that matched their first action, which excised my January comments from minutes and limited future ones to two minutes at the start and end of meetings. I’d recently seen how that works when Sacramento supervisors gave Cordova Hills developers unlimited time to argue for urban sprawl across the county’s vernal pools and prairies but confined our opposition to the same two minutes the task force was now granting. Two minutes weren’t needed to say how unacceptable that was.
So the only voice for parking consumers at the task force was silenced, confirming reports they aren’t welcome because of its control by an un-parking clique wanting eventual elimination of downtown core parking. Such proposals succeeded in Napa and converted its once-vibrant downtown into a ghost town of empty storefronts.
Because downtowns are fragile things competing with abundant free parking at peripheral malls, it doesn’t take much to create the kind of disaster that gutted Napa. I stayed long enough at the task force meeting to see that’s what it’s creating. If that’s what Davis wants, it shouldn’t cry crocodile tears when beloved stores like Alphabet Moon vanish.