Changes to come? After chamber of commerce meeting, possible reform to Nevada City’s higher meter rate policy | TheUnion.com

Changes to come? After chamber of commerce meeting, possible reform to Nevada City’s higher meter rate policy

Sam Corey
Staff Writer

KNOW & GO

What: Nevada City Council meeting

When: 6:30 p.m. Tuesday

Where: 317 Broad St., Nevada City

The atmosphere in the room felt crowded and a bit rowdy.

That’s the sentiment from some business owners at a July 12 Nevada City Chamber of Commerce meeting as they expressed their discontent with Nevada City’s policy change to increase parking meter rates.

“This (rate hike) will slow business down,” said Kirk Valentine, co-owner of Nevada City Classic Cafe. Valentine, who attended the meeting, said he doesn’t believe the city is in need of the funding.

“It’s in pretty good shape as a matter of fact,” he said.

Rita Fuenzalida, co-owner of Nevada City’s Java John’s, said the meeting was “animated” and a bit “volatile.” Fuenzalida was upset herself, believing the change could put local shops out of business.

“It’s like throwing a drowning man a rock,” she said, noting that today most people shop online, and those individuals will grow increasingly resentful for having to feed the meter more money, potentially causing a further economic slowdown in the town of 3,000.

In June, the Nevada City Council unanimously voted to quadruple meter rates, from 25 cents to $1 an hour, in a move intended to free up some parking and generate more than $550,000 a year, per previous Union reporting. Some of the money is slated for fire safety measures.

Possibly due to increased tension surrounding the change, the local issue was picked up by a national publication.

Nevada City Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Cathy Whittlesey, who helped lead the July 12 meeting, said she wants to adjust the process by which a rate hike takes effect. Whittlesey recognized the inconvenience of making people carry coins.

The conclusion of the July 12 meeting saw a motion, which passed, recommending the City Council rescind its parking plan, and provide time for the body to investigate the situation and uncover a better alternative.

“We want it to be easy, and the process of the change is not easy,” said Whittlesey. “We feel like they need to streamline the process.”

Whittlesey said it’s possible an alternative will be presented at this Tuesday’s city council meeting. That alternative would make parking at lots on Spring and Commercial streets 50 cents an hour, and add 20 more short-term parking meters.

Fuenzalida and Valentine said they will attend Tuesday’s meeting, but are fearful that the new policy won’t be amended.

“The city is completely out of touch with the town they are governing,” said Fuenzalida.

Contact Sam Corey at 530-477-4219 or at scorey@theunion.com.


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