A Tale of Two Cities

The city is afraid of itself; it has neither the manpower nor the first inkling of how to change the bad reputation it has earned over years of mis-use, abuse and mistreatment; both from inside, like its former mayor who had relatives on the payroll and “worked from home” more than he went into the office; and outside, its residents.  This city is like a cocktail – mix two parts bad (west and far east) and two parts good (north and south, or maybe far north and a little bit east). The only activity in downtown is Monday – Friday lunch, because of business.  On the weekend, there’s usually nothing going on.    There’s just not enough traffic to encourage businesses to open, let alone weather the increase in crime as the sun goes down.

The other face of the city, trying to entice visitors and vitality to come back, just held a festival…the Eat Real Festival focused on sustainable, healthy and exciting new foods.  In my second year of attendance, we tried a cactus taco and ‘bacon crack’, had a mini-cheese tasting of carabiner and other cheeses, sat on the curb and ate some hand-crafted cheese with a loaf of freshly made bread, and all around had a good time washed down with a watermelon-basil aqua fresca.

Imagine a Saturday’s warm afternoon and a full stomach.  Imagine the festival goer’s dismay to find that, when they got back to their car after the festival, they had gotten a ticket.  Every car on both sides of the very long street got a ticket.

When we first arrived at the festival, we had parked about 4 blocks away (free parking!) and walked around the corner to 2nd street, leading us to Jack London Square, in Oakland.  Lo and behold!  There were multiple parking attendants passing out tickets along the same street, maximizing their opportunity to fine people for attending a festival.  This city had the nerve to authorize extra attendants and OT!

I mentioned to the parking attendant dude, who was obviously not in a receptive mood, that, “Oakland should be ashamed, asking people to come to the festival and banking on the lack of parking to increase revenue by handing out tickets.” He said, “I’m just doing my job. Ma’am.”

Then he walked off.
So, I followed.

“I know,” but I suggested he represent that view to his managers later…cause taking advantage of me coming to town doesnt make me want to come back.  My suggestion was that Oakland suspend the parking tickets in the area by a festival.  His response was that there is ample parking on non-street cleaning sides and streets.

The facts are this (and yes, I looked this up):
Eat Real Festival gets approximately 10,000 people
There are 3,000 parking spots in downtown Oakland. (All of downtown Oakland, not just Jack London Square)

Do the math.

You know what’s really sad?  I, as an ex-Oakland resident and supposed Marin county snob, always tout the restaurants, College Avenue, 4th street in Berkeley, Nordstrom Rack In San Leandro, and the East Bay as having the best places to eat, shop and get your hair done.

When a city’s goal is to opportunistically gouge its visitors, I’m not so sure I agree anymore.

Hey, Oakland..Don’t shoot yourself in the foot.

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