Glendale merchants complained to council members this week that elimination of street parking in front of their downtown stores is destroying business, but Glendale's mayor says that inconvenient parking will not turn away customers.
"If you really want to go to a store, you will find a way to go," Mayor Ginger Bremberg told the merchants Tuesday during a City Council meeting. "If you don't want to go, having 10 parking spaces is not going to encourage you to go."
Merchants, also upset that the city failed to notify them before making the change, asked the council to consider a suggestion by Councilman Larry Zarian that would provide short-term parking along the nearly two-block stretch of West Wilson Avenue between Brand Boulevard and Central Avenue.
Glendale City Manager James M. Rez advised council members against Zarian's idea. "If we are going to restore parking on Wilson, we are going to have to revise our whole traffic management plan because that street has simply got to carry traffic," Rez said. "That's what it was designed for."
The curb along that stretch was painted red nearly three weeks ago to provide a smoother flow of traffic and to make room for left-turn lanes. The change on Wilson is part of a $12-million program to untangle rush-hour traffic on the city's crowded downtown streets.
The plan also calls for widening roads, computerizing traffic control signals and encouraging use of public transportation.
Rez and Councilman Jerold F. Milner said during the meeting that newly established city parking lots at the corner of Central and Wilson avenues and along Orange Street about 100 feet north of Wilson offer ample parking for Wilson Avenue shoppers.
But merchants, about half a dozen of whom spoke before the council, said the parking lots are not convenient for customers and are especially troublesome for elderly patrons. Last week, the shop owners submitted a petition to the council signed by more than 300 customers opposed to the change.
Kenneth J. Revie, owner of a West Wilson Avenue hearing aid center, said most of his customers are more than 75 years old and are unable to trek from the parking lots to his store.
"They use walkers, they use canes," he told council members. "We have caravans that pull up in front and unload people in wheelchairs. . . . You're forcing me to think about moving out of downtown Glendale in order to keep providing my services."
The merchants also said they are angry about a city slip-up that prevented them from finding out about the change.
The city sent letters to the wrong addresses. Instead of addressing them to West Wilson Avenue, they sent them to Wilson Avenue.
Additionally, the letters were the wrong ones, city officials said. Instead of sending the intended letter informing merchants of the abolishment of on-street parking, the city sent a letter written for nearby residents that referred only to parking restrictions in residential areas.
Consequently, when the parking meters were removed and the curbs painted red, merchants and customers alike were taken by surprise.
Print shop owner Fleury Middaugh said she and other merchants may file a class-action suit if the city does not rescind its decision.
City Council members will study other parking options, but are not expected to allow loading zones or short-term parking along West Wilson Avenue, Rez said.