Claremont Insider: Proposed Downtown Parking Ordinance Nixed

Monday, September 22, 2008

Proposed Downtown Parking Ordinance Nixed

Parking in downtown Claremont has long been a problem. Too many cars, too few parking spots. The problem is compounded by workers at Claremont Village businesses who take up prime parking spots in the Village's two-hour parking areas. Some of these workers move their cars throughout the day to the nearest open spot as their time runs out.

In response to this so-called "car shuffling," in June this year the city's Traffic and Transportation Commission approved a staff recommendation on a proposed downtown parking ordinance that would restrict people from parking within 300-feet of their previous parking spot. The parking ordinance was supposed to go to the City Council on July 8th for a vote, but it was pulled for some unknown reason.

Now we know. It turns out the staff recommendation, pushed by Claremont City Engineer Craig Bradshaw and the Claremont Chamber of Commerce's Past-Chair Sonia Stump and Chair-Elect Paul Held, is illegal. The Daily Bulletin's Wes Woods II reported on the subject:

A Traffic and Transportation Commission ordinance passed in June designed to making it harder for Village employees to park in the downtown core had to be thrown out, city officials said.

"There's legal issues to work with in terms of what's enforceable. So it's not a simple issue," said city engineer Craig Bradshaw.

The soonest a new ordinance could be created to address the troublesome issues is January, Bradshaw said.

Mayor Ellen Taylor said prohibiting moving a car in the Village to a parking spot within 300 feet of its initial spot was at odds with state law.

"The commission dealt with incomplete information," Taylor said. The issue of shuffling cars to different parking spots in the Village has been around for 20 years, Taylor said.

When he was a councilmember and, later, a Mayor of Claremont, Held loved using his power to back illegal or unconstitutional measures. Remember Measure A, the anti-conflict-of-interest law that passed with 55% of the vote? After the initiative passed, Claremont and City Attorney Sonia Carvalho did everything within their power to prevent the new city ordinance from being enacted.

Yet, contrary to what Carvalho was telling the City Council, the law was ultimately upheld by state courts and was ruled to be constitutional. Carvalho and the City Council tried to undermine a city ordinance lawfully approved by a majority of Claremont voters, but they failed.

So it's not surprising that once he got a little taste of power again on the local Chamber of Commerce, that Held would be up to his old tricks. Held, too, was one of the main forces behind the 2005 Preserve Claremont campaign. As you can see by his support on the Chamber of Commerce, he's suffered no ill-effects from his efforts at manipulating that election either.