Cost of parking is driving people away from downtown Ann Arbor
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