Pamela Powers Hannley, a progressive voice for Arizona
Is it just me or are local businesses looking more and more like uncaring, greedy bast**ds every day? The constant business friendly drumbeat is getting old.
Yesterday, local businesses were whining about Tucson’s sign code on the front page of the Arizona Daily Star. Today, they are whining about bicycle parking on the front page of the Star. A few weeks ago, they were clamoring about mini-dorms and their right to tear down historic properties to build giant boxes made of ticky-tacky.
What happened to cities and businesses that prided themselves on being people or consumer friendly?
Take today’s business issue: bicycle parking. According to the Star, the city has been working on relaxed parking regulations in an attempt to more “business friendly.” From the Star…
Bike racks now must be within 50 feet of the entrance. Advocates objected to a proposal to make it 75 feet from the entrance if extra security measures for the bikes are added.
They also objected to a new formula to determine the number of bike spaces required and provisions for employee bike parking. [Since cyclists are objecting, I guess there will be fewer spaces.]
Developers and business owners say close-up racks are not always practical or even necessary, and the debate is delaying needed changes to reduce the number of parking spaces required for businesses – rules that have been years in the making.
The issue arose when the City Council was about to give final approval to land-use-code changes that would have eased parking requirements to be more business-friendly – an key issue in the 2009 city election that is back for this year’s campaign. [Emphasis added.]
So, businesses want to “ease” parking regulations, so they can provide fewer vehicle and bicycle parking spaces. This move is considered “business friendly,” but is it “customer friendly”? Hell no! Who wants to waste time driving around trying to find street parking because a business doesn’t have adequate parking spaces? Not me. I’ll spend my money at a business that shows they want my business by giving me parking.
On the issue of reduced bicycle parking, this is seriously short-sighted. The business owners are only thinking of themselves and their profits right now; they are not thinking about the future. Gas is over $3/gallon, and the middle east is exploding in turmoil. The smart business would add MORE bicycle and motorcycle parking– not less.
Tucson is currently adding more commuter cycling boulevards (like 3rd Street). Making it easier to cycle to work while reducing the number of bicycle parking spaces is schizophrenic. Bicycle enthusiasts quoted in the paper talked about obtaining a platinum rating for Tucson as a bike-friendly city. Beyond that is the question of sustainability. Riding a bike to the store or to work is much more sustainable than driving.
In the Star, some business owners said they didn’t need bicycle parking because customers don’t come to them. What about bicycle-commuting employees? A local developer said you don’t need bicycle spaces at Home Depot. I’ve ridden my bike to Home Depot; he shouldn’t jump to conclusions.
My question for local businesses is: When are you going to stop thinking about yourselves and start thinking about your customers? Seriously, inadequate parking will hurt your business more than a sign-code-compliant sign. It doesn’t matter how big your sign is, if your business doesn’t have adequate, well-lit, safe parking, customers will go to your competitor who does.
My question for the Tucson City Council is: When are you going to stop bending over every time a developer or a business person wants lower fees or lower taxes or city intervention to protect profits or relaxed zoning or a sweet land deal (1, 2, 3, 4)? Hasn’t the city been screwed over enough already?
Changes to the parking regulations and a sign code appeal which would allow the Jewish Community Center to put a billboard on the side of their building are both on today’s City Council agenda. Be there if you care!