I believe it’s not only what decisions get made but how they are made that matters.

The decision to bring parking meters to Grand Avenue was done in a hurried, non-inclusive way that sends a message to everyone that residents’ and business owners’ feedback does not matter to the City.

At a forum on the issue, hosted by the Summit Hill Association, we were informed that the City originally intended to gather public input on which street would be the site of the proposed pilot.  However, once the Grand Avenue Business Association took the initiative to collect feedback on the proposal, the City scuttled the public input process entirely and moved ahead with designating Grand Ave as the pilot site.  I can not understand the reasoning behind this decision and can only assume the idea was to move forward with the Mayor’s proposal, public input notwithstanding.

City representatives also stated that enough public input has been solicited on this topic in the most recent study of parking on Grand–conducted in 2006.  A lot has happened in nine years and it seems to me that public engagement shouldn’t be a once-in-a-decade process.

The residents and businesses along Grand Avenue are right.  This is the wrong way to move something like this forward.

The only way to decide whether or not to bring meters to Grand Avenue is to engage in a collaborative process where the businesses, the residents and the broader community get the chance to share perspectives and work with city officials to evaluate the true costs and benefits of the idea.

I know we have a problem meeting our budget year after year.  But we have a bigger problem with telling the truth.  To first say that installing parking meters is about helping businesses and and then acknowledge that it’s actually just about getting more money into the general fund is wrong.

The people who live and work on and around Grand Avenue deserve better than this.  It is inspiring to see that from this challenge comes a unified effort by the Summit Hill Association and the Grand Avenue Business Association to work together to find ways to deal with this flawed decision and make sure the process is fixed.

There will be other tough decisions we’ll face in the future.  If I am elected I will make sure we change how these important decisions are made.  Saint Paul can and must do a better job going forward.