We joke that “Downtown is so crowded that nobody goes there anymore,” but perhaps its time for everyone to just be honest about the intent of the city mothers and fathers and admit the rivalry (war?) between The Bench and Downtown.
The latest chapter in the parking wars is a good example. The City is installing new parking meters, raising parking rates 50% and if you overstay your welcome it costs $15. Despite a scheduled public hearing, it appears they are already forging ahead with plans. Those of us Bench dwellers who pay the way for downtown merchants and the CCDC get dinged just to visit the “vibrant down core.” We provide parking structures for hotels and businesses Downtown, but on the Bench merchants and hoteliers provide it themselves–for free.
Violations of city ordinances including drunks, fights, etc. is so intense downtown the coppers have a special squad just for downtown. Firefighters need special equipment (ladder trucks) and training to handle the Downtown, but the folks on the Bench have to pay extra taxes because Downtown is in the urban renewal zone where all the taxes on improvements and appreciation goes to CCDC.
City sidewalks are turned over to restaurants to encourage Downtown dining, but what happens if a Bench eatery cuts its city mandated parking lot spaces in favor of a dining patio?
For the most part there are no sidewalks on the Bench, but Downtown and the North End have them. Even the City Forester spends most of the budget and effort downtown–including Warm Springs and Harrison Blvd. Try to get a curbside tree sprayed if you live on Kootenai of Palouse.
One doesn’t need to go Downtown to get fresh local produce among the flea market crowd with their dogs and bikes. Just visit one of the produce stands on Overland or Fairview. You can park for free.
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