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Posted on Sun, Feb 19, 2012 : 8 a.m.

Cost of parking is driving people away from downtown Ann Arbor

By Letters to the Editor

I am writing this in response to the January 26th article regarding the closing of Organic Bliss.

In Nathan Bomey's recent article on the closing of Organic Bliss, a local environmentally-friendly goods store, the shop owner suggests in not-so-subtle-terms that rising parking costs and plans to increase enforcement hours helped drive her out of brick-and-mortar retail, along with harming other local shops in the community.

As a resident of Ann Arbor for over 20 years, and as someone who prefers to shop locally, I can safely agree that these changes have impacted my shopping habits, causing me to think twice before committing to parking downtown.

Ann Arbor has some of the best shopping and restaurants in the state, centrally located in a downtown that's walkable and safe, yet increasingly locally owned businesses are finding it harder to keep their doors open. Having to spend $5 or more (as opposed to half that not too long ago) at a parking structure for an evening of shopping and dinner, or risking a ticket parking on the street during the day, is making our downtown increasingly hostile to the businesses that have come to define much of the character of our city.

The city's desire to push these short-sighted schemes for increased revenue means they're ignoring the bigger picture: The only reason any of us pay for parking to begin with is because there are places downtown worth paying for. But if parking costs continue to rise and enforcement hours continue to expand, we will see more and more of the local businesses that we love replaced by chains and big businesses that we don't.

Ben E. Sayler
Ann Arbor



Sun, Feb 19, 2012 : 8:01 p.m.

Parking isn't what keeps me away, the stench of all the grease in the air does.


Sun, Feb 19, 2012 : 7:46 p.m.

$5 gets you 4.5 hours of parking downtown (at $1.10/hr). So, if we assume that he spends 1.5-2 hours dining, and the rest of the time shopping (at retailers who are not known for offering bargain prices on any goods), how much money does he spend on the average night out? Hundreds? Thousands? I would imagine the 2 hours shopping trips downtown are not cheap. Oh wait... If the author were actually buying things at a downtown retailer, he'd get his parking validated, right? So much for the entire point of this filler piece...


Sun, Feb 19, 2012 : 6:30 p.m.

I refuse to go downtown and have not for at least 3 years. After last parking ticket that was not justified I plain out refuse to go downtown. Parked on street and walked 3 blocks to event downtown and came back and had parking ticket for parking in a no parking zone and there where no signs posted anywhere. So forget downtown ann arbor. I simply do not need the harassment any longer. They will not get my money any more. Period

Chaz H

Sun, Feb 19, 2012 : 5:23 p.m.

Meh. Park on the streets of the neighborhood west of town and walk. I did just that last night, despite the cold. If that is too far to walk, then that is all the more reason to park and walk. We are a fat state, and walking is good for us.

Chaz H

Sun, Feb 19, 2012 : 8:09 p.m.

Very well thanks. I just ran 5 miles, which may be why walking a little further in Ann Arbor is not a problem for me. It is also why in my late 30s, I am not fat (or even slightly overweight), despite the fact that I drink a lot of good beer, eat burgers and fries occasionally, and come next Tuesday, I will murder more P?czki than the most morbidly obese person in my office. Life is good.


Sun, Feb 19, 2012 : 5:23 p.m.

I don't like the increased parking rates either, and I'd love to see the DDA taken down a peg or three, but from my own observation, it is still as difficult to find parking downtown now as it ever was, and the parking structures (especially at Fourth & Washington and on Maynard) still fill to capacity as often as they ever did. Maybe the author of this opinion piece has been driven away by the additional (albeit minor) expense, but obviously there are plenty of other people willing to take the parking spaces he's not using. We may someday see parking rates that a significant chunk of the population refuses to pay, but clearly we haven't reached that point yet.


Sun, Feb 19, 2012 : 4:53 p.m.

In addition to the poor decisions made by the DDA that has no real reason to exist, getting around down there is just an absolute nightmare. I haven't had to drive down Huron, Division, Fourth, Liberty, and William for a long time, but on a combined errand I did all of that last weekend. Going to the bank, library, and Copernicus deli on Main took me 70 minutes. SEVENTY MINUTES!! This was due to atrociously timed lights and construction. How over schedule is that freaking library lot, man? And why does a light turhn green when the light in front of it AND the light behind it are red? Has anyone in city council ever had to drive down Liberty? Go and stand at, say, the Michigan Theatre, and just look down Liberty and watch the cars and the lights. It's ridiculous. How could that street have such ridiculous timing on the lights for so long? Ever try to turn left onto Glen from Huron? All the lights on Glen are red, so when you have the green to turn left, it's all backed up, so you just sit there through about 3 green lights until your frustration overcomes your civic duty to not snarl things up, and you just begin the turn and block the street to oncoming Huron traffic, otherwise you'll just stay there. Think you can avoid this by continuing on Huron, using Observatory to circle around that insane intesection? You complete the circle and come to Glen, guess what; same problem. You can't turn right unless someone is kind enough to let you out, and they are usually too irritated by what they went through at the Left Turn on Huron that they can't afford to let anyone in front of them. In all caps, fix the timing on the lights, get that library lot finished (did you get any money back or anything for them taking over TWICE as long as they were supposed to?!), and make it less of a nightmare to enter that downtown, man. And why is the City Hall art thing still not closed up on the sides? That was supposed to be done by Thanksgiving!


Sun, Feb 19, 2012 : 6:54 p.m.

Or, the lights could be timed properly, and the construction finished on time. That way, walkers could walk, and drivers could drive.

Peter Baker

Sun, Feb 19, 2012 : 5:26 p.m.

All the more reason to have a walkable downtown. You park once and do everything you need to on foot.


Sun, Feb 19, 2012 : 4:20 p.m.

It sounds like everyone in favor of $5 parking have wonderful jobs and lots of disposable income. Good for you. But there are a multitude of choices for shopping and restaurants with no parking fee. I prefer those.


Sun, Feb 19, 2012 : 3:43 p.m.

No Schoolkids, no Borders, no Riders - more food places. Less reason to go downtown specifically to shop. Like Royal Oak, downtown Ann Arbor is more and more a place to be seen and to eat, not to shop. The trick is going to be how to keep a balance, so that retail stays alive and vibrant downtown.


Sun, Feb 19, 2012 : 3:34 p.m.

Yeah im sure the costparking of parking is the reason people don't come to ann arbor...get real

Dog Guy

Sun, Feb 19, 2012 : 3:22 p.m.

By excluding some riff-raff from Ann Arbor, parking rates and enforcement are rapidly increasing the concentration of classy rich people downtown. Fees and property taxes for myriad boondoggles and evaporation funds are also evicting rabble, thus making room for affluent residents throughout our city. By the wizard's plan, Ann Arbor is becoming increasingly wealthy and stupid.


Sun, Feb 19, 2012 : 3:16 p.m.

How can anyone say $5.00 is an unreasonable cost for an entire evening of parking.

Kai Petainen

Sun, Feb 19, 2012 : 2:42 p.m.

I'm quite happy to pay $5 for parking in downtown Ann Arbor. We have a fantastic downtown with great restaurants. From what I can tell, the parking lots get quite busy and the downtown is vibrant. Complain about the expensive library lot (should it be converted to provide geothermal heat?), but don't complain about the $5.


Sun, Feb 19, 2012 : 2:15 p.m.

Interesting opinion piece. Too bad the actual facts in the form of year to year parking statistics 100% completely point to the contrary. So on second thought, not so interesting opinion piece at all. Feel free to go "browse" at the mall with all the free parking in the world. Others will come to Ann Arbor to "buy" if retail shops sell what people want and if they are willing to stay open late when downtown streets are packed full of people.

Terry Redding

Sun, Feb 19, 2012 : 1:56 p.m.

@johnnya2 - I don't see any stores specializing in 50 dollar Saturday nights having a problem . What I'm reading here is that "browsing retailers" are having trouble. For these folks the parking fees can be a burden . Perhaps they don't deserve to be in business in the first place but please don't take us off topic with the rant because you don't want to pay for an expensive night out.

Marvin Face

Sun, Feb 19, 2012 : 1:41 p.m.

Ann Arbor. Nobody goes there anymore; it's too crowded.

Adam Jaskiewicz

Sun, Feb 19, 2012 : 1:38 p.m.

We need more flat-rate parking downtown. This makes spending more time downtown *cheaper*, since whether you spend twenty minutes or three hours downtown, you pay the same for parking. It encourages people to spend more time downtown, becuase they aren't worried about how much their parking will cost. I believe there are only two structures that do this.


Sun, Feb 19, 2012 : 1:31 p.m.

$5 for parking so you can go out for an evening where you will likely drop $50 for two people is what is driving people out of downtown Ann Arbor? Really? You sure about that. I was downtown last night and saw many of the restaurants filled with people. I guess some people are willing to pay to have a vibrant downtown, and others prefer to whine about spending $5.