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HUNTINGTON BEACH : Downtown Merchants Assail Parking Fee Hike

October 31, 1994|DEBRA CANO

About 40 merchants packed a City Council study session last week, angry over a recent fee increase to park in the downtown parking structure.

"Some even had to close their doors to get to the meeting--that's how important they feel this is," said Stephen C. Daniel, president of the Downtown Business Assn. and owner of Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory.

Daniel said merchants are upset they were not involved in the process before the fee hike was imposed by the council Oct. 17.

He said merchants fear higher fees will discourage customers.

"Everybody understands (the city) has to raise revenues. But we take the brunt of this downtown," he said.

City Administrator Michael T. Uberuaga told the crowd that the effective date of the increase will be delayed. It was scheduled to take effect Tuesday.

City officials and merchants are expected to present alternatives discussed last week to the council Nov. 7.

"We hope to come up with a fee schedule and operational plan that's fair to businesses and won't kill businesses, and at the same time make the parking structure self-supporting," said Community Services Director Ron Hagan.

The council had increased fees by $1 to $3 on weekdays and $4 on weekends. Business owners will continue to be charged 25 cents for each validation, but the public will now pay $1 for parking with one validation.

In the past, parking was free with the validation.

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