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Saturday, October 20, 2018
HomeAlaska NewsBerkowitz zaps paid parking on Saturdays

Berkowitz zaps paid parking on Saturdays

40 PERCENT INCREASE AHEAD AT METERS

Tomorrow (June 25) was set to be the last Saturday Anchorage shoppers would have been able to park free along the streets downtown.

That’s because the Anchorage Community Development Authority, which manages downtown parking meters and garages, came up with a comprehensive plan to increase parking meter rates by 40 percent, and institute paid parking on Saturdays for the first time in Anchorage history.

The Saturday parking fees were meant to discourage downtown workers from parking on the street, thereby opening up more parking for shoppers.

Hawkins

The other rate changes include higher fees for parking lots and garages — increases that make downtown less of a shopper’s paradise and more of hangout for the homeless.

But in a classic Democratic bait-and-switch fashion, Mayor Ethan Berkowitz has weighed in. He nixed the Saturday parking meter heist. This makes the people feel like they “won one.” We’re hard pressed to believe he didn’t know about the entire plan in advance; if he didn’t, his staff has gone rogue on him.

BLOWBACK: WORKING PEOPLE VS. HALCRO

After a year of study, the Anchorage Community Development Authority might have considered more fully the blowback that would result from metering Saturday shoppers.

If the idea was, as stated by ACDA, to penalize downtown retail workers by forcing them into garages and lots, then it was a low blow against the working class — the shopkeepers, the servers, the cooks, and the cleaners.

To mitigate this public relations disaster created by ACDA, Berkowitz, who is on vacation, wrote to ACDA chair Dick Stallone, saying that Saturday parking meter fees would have “unintended, negative economic impacts.”

ACDA’s Brian Borguno, who runs the EasyPark program for ACDA, told the Alaska Dispatch he’ll respect the mayor’s request — for now — but his EasyPark officers will “still strongly encourage” people to feed the meters on Saturday.

Some observers viewed this as an act of insubordination with the mayor, who has just stated that he is concerned about the impact. Having EasyPark officers bully shoppers for quarters is not a welcome mat for downtown. And it sends a message to downtown workers that the city doesn’t care about the cost of actually working downtown.

Parking garages downtown are already underused, but perhaps raising the prices on them will drive more traffic in? We’re not the experts, but the more you tax something, the less you get of it.

Andrew Halcro, director of the Anchorage Community Development Authority for Mayor Berkowitz, was not pleased and commented on the previous story posted on Must Read Alaska, saying this:

You really have no idea what the hell you are talking about, but it’s not the first time Suzanne Downing has stuffed both feet in her mouth. First. the Mayor had nothing to do with the parking rate increase, it was a decision approved by the board of directors. The decision was made after five months of significant stakeholder meetings and presentations to downtown groups. Second, it’s the first parking rate increase in eight years. That’s eight years and we’re still one of the lowest cities in the country. Third, Saturday enforcement was asked for by the downtown business owners who were tired of their customers not having a place to pack because downtown employees were taking up street spaces for eight hours a day. You really put out a lot of misinformation on your feed, and it’s done intentionally to draw attention away from how your legislators are wrecking Alaska’s economy. Please, just stop with your lies.

We’ll forward his comments to the mayor, so that he knows without a doubt that he has no say in parking rate increases.

Halcro is correct in stating that rates haven’t gone up in eight years. The last rate hike was, indeed, during the Begich Administration.

When now Super Lobbyist Begich was mayor, the ACDA was a losing entity. The Dan Sullivan Administration changed the board makeup and the fiscal dynamics of the parking authority, so that it became a profit center. Hence, there was no need to raise rates.

THE MOST EXPENSIVE PARK IN TOWN

The city’s new urban park, which is now in place on the top of the 5th Avenue Garage, has just been launched by the Berkowitz-Halcro Administration. And it’s cute, there’s no question about that. A great place to play hacky-sack about three  months out of the year. Perhaps there is no fountain, but there’s also no fountain in the city’s Towne Center Park — the mayor had that torn down last month.

The cost of the new Parking Garage Park is at least $11 million. That’s because $11 million is the actual cost to the taxpayer of building those 220 parking spaces. Spaces so poorly used that the mayor decided to turn them into a game room.

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Suzanne Downing had careers in business and journalism before serving as the Director of Faith and Community-based Initiatives for Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and returning to Alaska to serve as speechwriter for Gov. Sean Parnell. Born on the Oregon coast, she moved to Alaska in 1969.

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