OAKLAND — The owner of the Grand Lake Theatre hopes to pack his 600-seat theater with angry business owners who will buy in to a plan to shutter their doors next Thursday in solidarity against the City Council's recent decision to increase parking fines and meter fees and extend metering hours to help balance the city budget.
The cost of parking at a meter recently jumped 50 cents an hour from $1.50 to $2. Meters now are enforced until 8 p.m. instead of 6 p.m., and the fines for many long-ignored parking violations, such as parking with one set of wheels on the sidewalk on narrow residential streets, have been increased.
"What the council has done here is decided they are going to slaughter the concept of Shop Oakland," said theater owner Allen Michaan. "It should now be Shop Oakland — Get a Parking Ticket."
The new fines and regulations come in the wake of an $83 million shortfall for the 2009-10 fiscal year. The increases are expected to raise about $4 million in additional revenue, city officials said.
Michaan said the new parking regulations and fines, which extend to all parts of Oakland, have made it impossible for businesses to operate equally with their counterparts in surrounding cities.
"Business owners are so scared they are going to be driven out of business by this," he said. "They are losing customers every day."
He said his business is down 30 percent to 40 percent since the new parking regulations
The council also voted to charge for parking at Lakeside Park, which affects visitors to Children's Fairyland, the Lakeside Garden Center and the Sailboat House. The fine for the most common violation, parking at an expired meter, was not increased.
Michaan will speak to business owners and supporters at 3:30 p.m. today at his theater at 3200 Grand Ave. He then will open the microphone to those who want to speak or brainstorm ideas about how to reverse the council's decision.
He wants to see the meter fees rolled back to $1.50 an hour and an end to "giving tickets to people for anything they can think of." He also wants to see an end to the 8 p.m. meter extension.
"That right there kills restaurant and theaters," Michaan said.
Sue Piper, an aide in Councilmember Jean Quan's office, said Quan (Montclair-Laurel), chairwoman of the council's finance committee, promised to revisit the issue in September, when the council reconvenes after recess.
Councilmember Nancy Nadel (Downtown-West Oakland) said several people have called and e-mailed council members' offices to decry the new policies. But there could be benefits, such as people using mass transit more, she has said. Nadel has said it is important to monitor how the changes affect business. She has requested that the policies be revisited in six months.