Parking wars, again

City considers Midtown crackdown during Second Saturday

If upset Midtown residents have their way, out-of-towners who park in their neighborhoods for too long on Second Saturdays will soon discover $52.50 tickets on their windshield.

Yes, it’s yet another push to extend Midtown’s residential-parking hours to midnight on Second Saturday: A few months back, two concerned residents—Dale Kooyman and Vito Sgromo—met with Sacramento City Councilman Rob Fong and officials to ask what they were going to do about the overcrowding, crime, vandalism and general nuisance that comes with thousands of visitors.

Karen Jacques, for instance, says she was there from the beginning and helped revitalize Midtown from a slum to a destination. “But now my quality of life has deteriorated, as has my ability to park,” she argued.

She seldom can find a spot, and her tenants have even been robbed walking too far at night from car to home, Jacques says. Drunks wake her up not just on Second Saturday, but on a weekly basis. Sometimes they defecate on neighbors’ front lawns.

Currently, Midtown has restricted parking from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. But this week, city parking services manager Howard Chan is meeting with neighborhood associations, asking whether, on each Second Saturday for three months, parking hours should move from 6 p.m. to midnight.

He was adamant that the city is not ramming through a new policy. “I personally take offense to that,” he said. “We’ve done so much outreach, it’s ridiculous.”

The so-called battle between Midtown businesses and old-school neighbors goes back decades. Now, business owners insist that, if the city starts ticketing customers, word will spread that Midtown isn’t a place to have fun: It’s a place to get fined.

Liz Studebaker, who heads up the Midtown Business Association, says her members’ responses to the proposed change has been “kind of mixed, not very well received.” But she added that the “business community here doesn’t want to be at odds with residents.”

Indeed, if there is a Midtown melee, then lately it’s been polite. Longtime Midtowner Jacques even extended an olive branch, praising both Chan and Studebaker’s recent efforts.

But does she care about Midtown getting a bad rap for doling out meaty parking tickets? “I really don’t have any sympathy for that,” Jacques said. So, the battle is still on.

Chan says he “hears things percolating” that most neighbors won’t support the change. Some people like having guests over without having to worry about permits, he noted. Others, he says, enjoy the nightlife: “It’s part of being in a big city.”