Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Cincinnati City Council Hates Cincinnati

We have exams this week at school, which means I got to leave at 2:30 today.  3pm is my coffee cut-off time, so I zipped on down the hill from school to 1215 Wine Bar and Coffee Lab in OTR, which happens to be one of my favorite places to chill, any time of the day.  If it's too late for coffee, I can just drink wine instead!  I was overjoyed to find a spot equidistant from the coffee shop and Holtman's donuts, but my world got a little sad when I went to pay the meter: They've replaced the tops of ALL the meters with credit card readers and mine wouldn't take quarters!!!!  Serioulsy, what's wrong with quarters?!?  Part of the reason why this was so disturbing is that a significant portion of the meters in OTR have had the tops knocked off of them, which means they're free!  I actually exclaimed aloud, "This is SHIT!" and increduously ripped off my mittens, shoved my quarters back in my pocket and went digging through my purse for my wallet and plucked out a credit card before I jammed it into the slot with as much angst as I could muster with my cold hands and a piece of plastic.  It didn't give me the satisfaction of feeling like I was sticking it to the City. 

This angered me for two reasons:
1. One of the joys of meter-parking is when something is jammed in the meter and you can't get your money in, you don't have to pay.  This is condusive to a mid-afternoon ramble between the various shops and comes in handy when you decide to pop into a drinking establishment for Happy Hour!
2. I don't trust the City as far as I can throw their incompetency, and I don't know how I feel about them having my credit card information stored in some computer. 

Stepping into the warm sweetness of the donut shop calmed my nerves and I merrily made my way down to the coffee shop clutching that joy-filled bag of donuts and my clipboard full of exam essays.  I enjoyed my afternoon latte and graded a fair amount of the essays I had left from today.  Then I bundled up and headed back out into the cold.  That's when my incredulity turned into utter dismay!  Thanks to my caffeine-induced heightened awareness, I noticed that there were new red and white stickers where the standard-issue black stickers that have been on those meters since before I was born.  The ones that used to say you had to pay 8-6 Mon-Sat and that Sundays and Holidays were free.  I literally experienced sticker-shock today.  The new hours of the meters 9-9 Mon-Sat and 2-9 on Sunday.  SUNDAY!!!!  They are charging for parking on Sunday!!! They are going to pay some poor sap to check the meters for 7 hours on Sunday and for 2 extra hours every other day of the week!!!  On top of that, the price has DOUBLED in OTR.  It's still cheaper than the south side of Central, but really?  At the end of the night, you've wound up spending a beer's worth of money for the privilege of parking on the street!! Is nothing sacred anymore?!?

Free parking on Sundays is right up there with rain, death and taxes: it's something we can count on.
God only knows how much City revenue has increased with all of the new restaurants, bars and businesses that have opened in OTR in the past few years.  It wasn't even the City who made the neighborhood as safe as it is today; the County did that back in 2006 when they started cracking down on crime and pushed all the bad guys out into the surrounding neighborhoods, which set a chain-reaction in motion that has filtered all the way out into the outer suburbs of the metro area, causing a prepetual movement away from the city-center.  But that's a story for another day.  Ask me about it sometime.

So anyway, the County starts the "clean-up" of OTR, the City sold a whole bunch of buildings, tax-free for $1 and 3CDC started doing their thing.  Now OTR doesn't even look like the OTR I knew and most of the people down there don't even know what it used to be and who used to be there, but that's another story for another day.  Ask me about it sometime.  So, the city sells a bunch of liquor licenses and makes a shit-ton of money off of OTR and now they're trying to make more money on the backs of the very people who have supported this shift and transition: the customers, the people who spend their hard-earned money patronizing the businesses in OTR, many of whom work in the city and already "donate" a percentage of their paycheck to the city every two weeks.  So, what's going to happen now that parking goes until 9?  I guarantee the average wait-time at restaurants, which is already ridiculously long, will go up because people are going to have to leave their table to go feed the meter again (with their friggin' credit card), which will delay them ordering their dinner, or will give their fellow-dinners cause to enjoy one last drink while occupying a table instead of a bar stool. 

Cincinnati is a wonderful city.  I have defended it for years and have drug many returning friends down to OTR and downtown to prove to them that Cincinnati isn't the city they left after graduation in 2007, but the City continues to make Cincinnati less appealing.  There's the whole issue of them borrowing from the pension fund, and then the long, drawn out debates about the street car, and who can forget the Twitter wars between Leslie Ghiz and Laketa Cole?  This latest stunt, which was first proposed several years ago, when the city considered privatizing parking, is just one more thing for people who don't already love this city to judge it harshly for. 

So now, my strong senses of justice and loyalty is tested once again.  Do I pay to park on the damn street and give my money (and precious credit card info) to the City, or do I park in one of the garages and give my money to 3CDC, which I pretty much hate on principle (although I patronize many of its spaces on a regular basis)??  I can take the bus, but then I'd have to walk 4 blocks through a very desolate part of downtown that is situated in the no-man's-land between the downtown business district and the Gateway Corridor (does anybody even call it that anymore?? #oldschool #so2006).  This whole thing has only further solidified my desire to get a "beater" bike with enough gears to get me up Gilbert and through Eden Park so that I don't have to deal with this lamentable parking issue at all!  However, it's winter and I don't ride in the winter because I'm a wimp about the cold, so until then, I'm stuck paying a a morally-exorbitant amount of money for parking in OTR.

Thanks City Council, I hate you too! Why don't you figure out how to balance your budget and pay for things BEFORE you build them?!?