Anti-parking meter extension group to hold press conference/happy hour; Morrison, Tovo promise to introduce agenda item to repeal, modify, or delay parking meter ordinance
AUSTIN — Local group A.A.M.P.E.D. (Austinites Against Metered Parking Extension Downtown) will be holding a press conference at its first weekly happy hour this Tuesday, July 19th, at J Black’s Feel Good Lounge, from 4 to 7 pm. The press conference will begin at 4:45 pm. The happy hour will be a time for the group to network and discuss issues that affect downtown.
A.A.M.P.E.D. has over 870 members currently and continues to grow. The group has secured the promises of council member Laura Morrison and newly-elected council member Kathie Tovo, to cosponsor an agenda item to repeal, modify, or delay the meter extension ordinance. Currently, the meter extension is set to go into effect on September 6th.
“A vast majority of Austinites and a vast majority of downtown businesses are against the meter extension,” said Travis Snavely, A.A.M.P.E.D.’s founder. “Six of the 7 council members voted this through against the will of the people. We are working to repeal this ordinance before it takes effect. We support a delay in the implementation of the extension in order to give downtown workers, musicians, volunteers, and churches a role in the decision process.”
In January of this year, over 8,000 Austinites took the city’s public survey, which found that 76% of the respondents said free parking is more important to them than “convenient” parking. 81% of these 76% said they would be less likely to visit downtown if the meter hours were extended. Even 41% of the 24% who said they choose “convenient” parking over free parking said they would be less likely to visit downtown if the meter hours were extended.
A.A.M.P.E.D. volunteers have been calling and canvassing downtown business owners, managers, and workers, and found that a vast majority are against the meter extension.
“We’re all concerned about the impact the extension will have on us,” said Misty Anderson, bartender at Halcyon. “I personally will not be able to afford to stay at the job I’ve had for almost three years once the extension goes into effect. I’m sure the rates at downtown parking lots will increase as well, which will eliminate that option for us.”
“When people leave the bar to feed the meter, they have a decision to make: Should I pay the meter and go back to the bar or should I just go home,” said Reagan Noble, manager at J Black’s Feel Good Lounge. “Many people will decide to just go home.”
In addition, Musicians are opposed to the meter extension as they feel it will hurt their bottom line, as well as the downtown music scene that Austin is known for internationally.
“It’s funny to me that the city is supporting an ordinance that will further hinder an industry which brings hundreds of millions of dollars into the local economy,” said Drew Thomas, guitarist and singer for Twilight Broadcast. “The bands themselves are playing for a couple of beers and ten percent of bar sales. This would be like charging athletes for parking at their own games.”
A.A.M.P.E.D. plans on having weekly happy hours to rally and network with people concerned with the parking meter issue and other issues that affect downtown. A.A.M.P.E.D. hopes to include speakers ranging from local politicians to musicians at future happy hour events.
**A.A.M.P.E.D.’s Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/AAMPED-Austinites-Against-Metered-Parking-Extension-Downtown/123468907727518?ref=ts