Tucson Progressive

Pamela Powers, a progressive voice for Arizona

Local businesses use ‘me me me’ squeaky wheel technique to pressure City Council

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!

13 comments on “Local businesses use ‘me me me’ squeaky wheel technique to pressure City Council

  1. Martha Retallick
    March 22, 2011

    Pam, this part of your post says it all:
    My question for local businesses is: When are you going to stop thinking about yourselves and start thinking about your customers?
    ISTR hearing that, if you’re going to be in business, your customers must come first. After all, they’re the reason why you’re in business.


  2. Martha Retallick
    March 22, 2011

    Me again. Regardless of what the city decides to do with bicycle parking requirements, here’s an idea for the business community:
    If you’re going to cater to the bicycling crowd, promote the heck out of it. For example, if you’re the Epic Cafe, advertise that huge bicycle corral on University Boulevard. Or, if you’re home to some really cool BICAS-created racks like Fourth Avenue, come on, Fourth Avenue Merchants Association, put that word out there.

    We’re already seeing solar-powered businesses tooting their sun-powered horns. The bicycle-friendly businesses ought to do the same.


    • Kasey
      March 22, 2011

      Under current code you could never build pedestrian/bicycle freindly venue like Epic Cafe, you are required to have a suburban sea of parking spaces inf front. 
      I believe that when Rum Runner moved to its current space they had to reduce the number of tables at the Dish because of  parking spaces.  Tucson’s suburban strip mall sea is not good for the enviornment.  There is not reason, especially there in midtown why you couldn’t have parking overflow to the street.  
      The makes our city more like Mesa and less like Portland/Seattle/San Fransico. 


      • Pamela Powers
        March 22, 2011

        What about the neighborhood-only parking zones?


    • Pamela Powers
      March 22, 2011

      Good ideas, Martha. It’s perpetually difficult to park bikes or cars around 4th Ave. I’ve had 4th Ave “bike dates” and have had a hard time finding a bike parking space near my favorite watering holes. 🙂 I do think other businesses could take some ideas from the 4th Ave Merchants’ Association regarding bike parking. The creative bike parking structures on 4th Ave. double as quirky sculptures when not in use.


  3. Kasey
    March 22, 2011

    Being more flexible about the parking spaces will lead to a more urban less suburban/strip mall looking city.  That means less sprawl.  That’s good for Tucson and its environment.


  4. Stuart L.
    March 22, 2011

    I guess you’re not the kind of progressive who care about the environment or infill development. Smaller parking lots mean businesses need less space, meaning more room to grow inside the city of Tucson rather than spreading out in every direction to the point that people need to burn a couple of gallons of gas every time they make a trip to the store.
    Personally, if it’s inconvenient for me to park when I drive somewhere, or lock up my bike when I ride, I don’t go there. There’s pretty much always another choice, so why force businesses to be customer friendly? Isn’t that their responsibility in the first place?


    • Pamela Powers
      March 22, 2011

      There is such a thing as underground parking. Yes, more expensive but definitely environmentally friendly on multiple levels. I agree, when businesses make it inconvenient for customers to use them, there’s always another choice.


      • Stuart L.
        March 22, 2011

        Yes, underground parking is environmentally friendly. And people friendly in our summers. And is a good idea for downtown. But how can a small independent restaurant or store afford to build underground parking? In Tucson, where they’re digging through solid bedrock? Do you want to pay $50 for a sandwich? Or $200 for a pair of jeans? (Ok, I guess some people do that already, but I mean the rest of us.)


  5. steven
    March 22, 2011

    TAKE THE BUS. Leave the car and bike home. If the consumers only knew what bussines owners go thru.


  6. Hugh Holub
    March 22, 2011

    Every time a business wants to reduce the number of parking spaces they have to provide…especially in new development…go ahead and agree to reduce the spaces. Maybe even refuse to allow parking spaces at all. Pretty soon with no parking spaces people would have to use mass transit. Or folks would start building parking garages. Then again all the “open space” that is now used for parking lots would be built over making Tucson much more intensely urban. For every solution another problem is created.


  7. Pingback: Local businesses use ‘me me me’ squeaky wheel technique to pressure City Council – Tucson Citizen | The Write Article

  8. Pingback: City Council unanimously votes ‘business friendly’– twice - Tucson Progressive

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The Tucson Progressive: Pamela J. Powers

I stand on the side of Love. I believe in kindness to all creatures on Earth and the inherent self-worth of all individuals–not just people who agree with me or look like me.

Widespread economic and social injustice prompted me to become a candidate for the Arizona House, representing Legislative District 9 in the 2016 election.

My platform focused on economic reforms to grow Arizona’s economy, establish a state-based public bank, fix our infrastructure, fully fund public education, grow local small businesses and community banks, and put people back to work at good-paying jobs.

In the Arizona House, I was a strong voice for fiscal responsibility a moratorium on corporate tax breaks until the schools were fully funded, increased cash assistance to the poor, expansion of maternal healthcare benefits, equal rights, choice, unions, education at all levels and protecting our water supply.

After three terms, I retired from the Arizona Legislature in January 2023 but will continue to blog and produce my podcast “A View from the Left Side.”

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