Sparse parking, scarce shoppers - Coeur d'Alene Press: Local News

Sparse parking, scarce shoppers

Downtown Cd'A businesses deal with construction

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Posted: Friday, June 7, 2013 12:00 am

COEUR d'ALENE - Shopping in downtown Coeur d'Alene may have hit a bump in the road.

And construction signs.

And traffic cones.

And congestion on the streets.

The season is starting out a little bumpy because of restricted access and parking caused by road construction and improvements, which have various roads temporarily closed or fenced off. Shoppers, as well as store owners and employees, have mixed feelings about how the process is affecting business now that the peak downtown shopping time has commenced.

"I think that the timing of which they're doing this is just very bad timing," said Charlotte Botelho, sales clerk at Lucky Monkey Trading Company.

Botelho, 34, of Coeur d'Alene, said she feels summer is not an ideal time for the project. "It just feels like poor planning," she said. She said she has noticed fewer people coming in to shop, and has overheard some shoppers venting frustrations.

"People are coming in here complaining about the lack of parking or how they have to park so far up in the residential area," she said. "It's kind of a deterrent almost to even come down and walk around."

"Parking" has become a buzzword for downtown patrons.

"I think parking is going to be the biggest issue," said Coeur d'Alene Chocolates employee Mariah Bell, 18, of Coeur d'Alene. She said she thinks this summer will mean fewer local youths, especially, meandering through downtown, a direct consequence of the road blockage and congestion.

"Either there's going to be more walking or less kids down here," she said.

Bell's coworker, Melissa Wulf, 22, of Post Falls, has been employed with Coeur d'Alene Chocolates for two summers.

"No one that lives here locally wants to come downtown because it's such a pain to find parking," she said. "Not that it was easy before to find parking, but now a lot of people are grumpy about it."

She said the tourist season is still steady because most visitors staying downtown don't have transportation and walk anyway, but some regular customers are relocating their business to the Government Way store solely because of parking.

"A lot of people have problems walking or something like that, and they don't want to park six blocks up," she said. She said some of the store's best customers have just stopped coming in because they couldn't find parking.

"It's easy for us (younger people) to walk a few blocks, but some people can't walk miles to be down Sherman. It's kind of pros and cons, but mostly cons," Wulf said.

Terry Crawford, of Hayden, was enjoying the day and walking her goldendoodle Piper along Sherman Avenue on Thursday.

She said she often drives downtown, but "the construction's definitely keeping me from coming as much," she said. "In fact, sad to say, I just kind of cruised around and was looking for where I should park. My main motivation was to come down and walk her by the water, and I usually walk through town, but you know, parking is a problem."

She ended up parking on Lakeside Avenue, which offers two free hours. She originally chose a lot by the Human Rights Education Institute, but the lot was $2 for the first hour and cost more after that, so she circled the area and kept looking.

"It was $4 parking just to walk my dog," she said. "It's not worth it."

She said she usually stops and enjoys a meal or a beverage while she and Piper are out and about, or pop into a dog-friendly shop, but it's a little difficult now with the restricted parking and impending time limit.

Holly Raymond, 26, and Megan Abey, 19, were out thrift store shopping and relishing a day off in the sun. As locals, they spend plenty of time in the downtown scene.

Raymond said she definitely noticed a lot less people walking by while she was sitting outside of Java on Sherman.

"Especially on a hot day like this, like nobody is out, there's nobody. It's really weird," she said. "I know that school is still in session for a little bit, but usually when it's hot, there's like tons of people, and it's now it's not like that."

The two friends said they have observed an abundance of cars backed up into intersections. Raymond said when she was walking toward Sherman while shopping, she saw a line of cars on Lakeside, "just streaming through," she said. "I was like 'Woah, there's a ton of traffic.'"

One business owner sees the silver lining through the construction chaos.

Craig Ely, owner of Del Sol Coeur d'Alene, said his shop has been affected "a very little bit." Ely is the secretary on the executive board of the Downtown Association. He said he feels the association has done many things to help the situation, including creating free parking at Memorial Field and by City Hall. He mentioned the free shuttle that will soon transport passengers through town with multiple stops.

"Parking is not an issue," he said. "We've experienced a little slowdown, with the Third Street and Sherman construction, but that's soon to be over."

Ely said he was in the road construction business for 35 years, and he feels the progress is "right on. As far as I know, they're on schedule, maybe even a little ahead. People say it's the wrong time of year, but in the construction business this is the perfect time. As far as I'm concerned, it's all good."

He said a little "toe-stepping" is bound to happen during construction projects, but he feels downtown is still vibrant.

Buddy Le, Coeur d'Alene resident and owner of The Coeur d'Alene Galleries, said he has noticed a decrease in foot traffic "because it's a little difficult to get around."

"However, the people that are down here are very positive and they've obviously made an extra effort to go to the stores., he said.

Le said he knows the parking and construction is a temporary issue.

"I do truly believe that, in the long run, all of the improvements are going to be really good for downtown."

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  • cdbotelho posted at 8:34 pm on Sat, Jun 8, 2013.

    cdbotelho Posts: 1

    Wow Mr. Standing, thank you for enlightening me with the fact that we live in the Inland Northwest. I was completely oblivious to that before reading your comment. I do however recognize that there are months in the spring and fall that are completely usable for construction projects, (my husband is a self-employed house painter so I know the work window). I think McEuen park is going to be a great place to bring my family when it is done. Please don't take my paragraph of a statement and analyze what you don't know about what I said.

  • lola123 posted at 10:40 am on Sat, Jun 8, 2013.

    lola123 Posts: 338

    Deniles there will be a shuttle starting shortly throughout the summer for transporting folks from the free parking area to the main Sherman area. If you would get your head out of the sand and do something (like getting correct information) once in a while you would know this. From what I hear this is costing the Downtown Association a lot of money so support these people.

  • Patrick Krapfl posted at 4:15 pm on Fri, Jun 7, 2013.

    Patrick Krapfl Posts: 13

    Ha... I'm waiting for the article that says the boat launch is barely being used this summer compared to others. Then that will be a reason to tear it out. No one uses it. Well, when you can't turn a vehicle with a trailer around, and have to park a half mile wonder it is not getting used. They might as well put a barricade in front of it and then wonder why no one is using it.

  • ecclesia posted at 3:01 pm on Fri, Jun 7, 2013.

    ecclesia Posts: 19

    Remember the fiasco that Meyer inspired in Hayden and the businesses that closed. Look for many businesses to fold along Sherman. The rents are high, lack of parking and high prices keep many away, and now there is no place to walk. All that is needed is a strong wind to stir up dust.

    Back when this mess got started, there was talk of shuttling employees from Riverstone parking. Most traffic downtown this summer will be made by gawkers snickering at Bloem's failing legacy.

  • DeNiles posted at 2:37 pm on Fri, Jun 7, 2013.

    DeNiles Posts: 2450

    The real solution for this would be for the downtown business association to set up and operate a tourist shuttle transport network to service the resorts and a few major offsite parking areas. The inconvenience is no surprise and they should've set up such contingencies long ago.

    Heck Riverstone could have cashed in by enticing people to holster park there for downtown events. Think customer profiles and opportunistic business exposure. Old time CdA is flushed away gone thanks to Queen Mayor and her court. Time to put away quaint and get into heavy duty retail marketing science.

  • Ziggy posted at 2:29 pm on Fri, Jun 7, 2013.

    Ziggy Posts: 1177

    A little history: Before Dewey built the big hotel, parking was adequate most of the time. After he built the hotel, his employees parked in the city lot, thus crowding the city lot with their vehicles. The city should have required that the hotel provide parking spaces for its employees like the city does now for businesses. The parking garage was for guests, that was made clear.
    The city tried to ameliorate the problem by charging for parking in the city lot, hoping that would drive downtown employees to park farther out from downtown on city streets.
    I don't think the new garage will help much as it doesn't add many spaces. I think the city made a mistake when it decided to extend sidewalks out into the street. Why do they do that? When the city did the remodel, the city did away with quite a few parking spaces and they made Sherman one land with a turn lane rather than the four lane it once was which moved traffic more efficiently.
    The solution, which was pointed out years and years ago, was to look around 2nd street, buy up some land and put in some more parking. I believe there is land available for that somewhere N of Sherman.

  • LMYCDA posted at 1:42 pm on Fri, Jun 7, 2013.

    LMYCDA Posts: 2067

    And, us residents just love having all you people park on our residential streets. POOR PLANNING BY THE CITY...POOR DECISION BY THE FAB4!!!!

  • LMYCDA posted at 1:41 pm on Fri, Jun 7, 2013.

    LMYCDA Posts: 2067

    So true CC. They don't care. Just wait, now we are going to have to foot the bill for an EVENT CENTER for a "JUNIOR" COLLEGE!!! I am sure the queen will try and get that passed before riding off into the sunset!!!!

  • LMYCDA posted at 1:39 pm on Fri, Jun 7, 2013.

    LMYCDA Posts: 2067

    Oh, so you are some of those that drink too much, speed on our streets late at night, throw your cigarette butts on the sidewalks. Charm??? Are you blind. There is no charm. Just filth. Vomit, urine, human feces, trash, spilled beer/wine/etc., food on sidewalks...Yepper, it is just charming!!!! The smell is horrible and gets even worse in the summer. These so called restaurants, bars are OVER SERVING but what else is new!!

    Why call someone a dummy??? Does that make you feel all warm and cozy to call someone a name? Actually, it makes you look pretty stupid Not4sale.

  • Mahiun posted at 1:36 pm on Fri, Jun 7, 2013.

    Mahiun Posts: 5155

    Oh, I don't think the garage is going to completely solve the problem, either. There will probably need to be more such garages in downtown Cd'A before long. (I remember a few years back when Santa Cruz, CA --- almost exactly the same size as Cd'A --- thought they were "way overbuilding" by putting in 3 good-sized garages in the downtown area. Within about 2-3 years, they would fill up pretty routinely, between the tourists and the locals.)

    I was just trying to think of something that could at least make the problem not quite as bad, during construction.....

  • Joshido posted at 1:17 pm on Fri, Jun 7, 2013.

    Joshido Posts: 77

    Good article, it would have been difficult to remain objective centering around a generally unfavorable topic.

  • Joshido posted at 1:15 pm on Fri, Jun 7, 2013.

    Joshido Posts: 77

    Are you correcting the grammar or quoted individuals from downtown? Oh, if only we all had Engrish degrees...

  • SamuelStanding posted at 12:56 pm on Fri, Jun 7, 2013.

    SamuelStanding Posts: 554

    Hey! Where is that "Drinking/Bar bus" that was advertised as a new business in town? They could haul folks back and forth from the FREE parking area Sandy Blo em has set aside! Or the city could hire a bunch of teenages to drive golf carts up and down the streets moving shoppers to their destination. Employee the youth, keep the downtown businesses a buzzin' Win Win! Oh WAIT! The Fab4 will have to sit on this until September and then decide to implement!

  • Rationale posted at 11:02 am on Fri, Jun 7, 2013.

    Rationale Posts: 1974

    Great to see the blind sycophants continuing to support this asinine project! Pave paradise to put up a parking lot...completely STUPID idea!

    What the mindless sheep don't realize is that for many of the downtown shops, their entire year is based on Summer sales...if they don't make it then, they fold!

    But the liars and their blind sycophants don't care...they got their idiotic project!

    Too bad they don't have the integrity to fund it out of their own greedy pockets...of course, they won't lose any sleep when a local business closes. What do you doesn't affect you!

  • Miketeague posted at 10:55 am on Fri, Jun 7, 2013.

    Miketeague Posts: 2157

    Mahiun, your idea certainly has merit as a temp fix for those that are disabled but the problem that I and surly many more face is my knees and hips aren’t bad enough to qualify for disabled parking but they are bad enough to make walking even a few blocks unpleasant at the least and then if I have to run out and find new parking every two hours.
    Those that refused to sign the recall are going to say that the parking garage will fix the problem, I don’t think so unless you’re doing business across the street. It’s human nature for people to park as close to where they are going so the garage will not open up spaces. I’m not sure what the answer is, maybe parking meters. I do hope that the people complaining about the mess downtown aren’t the one’s that didn’t sign the recall.

  • Not4sale posted at 10:51 am on Fri, Jun 7, 2013.

    Not4sale Posts: 147

    Hey Mr D (must stand for dummy), there are a lot of fine restaurants, bars and even a few shops that us locals do frequent downtown. Not all of us eat and shop at corporate run strip malls that resemble "Anytown, USA." Some locals prefer to enjoy a little bit of individuality and charm.

  • milburnschmidt posted at 10:46 am on Fri, Jun 7, 2013.

    milburnschmidt Posts: 1161

    The problem is potential customers and shoppers claim its to expensive and there is a shortage of parking soaces.
    Mr Ely who is on a board which over sees the parking and claims there is no problem which shows what the problem is no one is listening as usual and ignoring complaints.
    Adding more disabled parking is one persons answer although casual looking around shows empty handicapped parking all over town. Many of those using it are probably told by their Drs to get more exercise. When you view many of those using that parking many are in better shape than regular folks having to walk the greater distance. Handicapped parking is one of the good ideas that has been abused by to many who dont need it and is to easy to get.

  • 5inPfs posted at 10:32 am on Fri, Jun 7, 2013.

    5inPfs Posts: 709

    Those were my thoughts as well...

  • Ziggy posted at 10:29 am on Fri, Jun 7, 2013.

    Ziggy Posts: 1177

    Not less people---fewer people.
    And yes, my dears, constructions must be done in the summertime; we live in the frigid Northwest.

  • Mahiun posted at 9:41 am on Fri, Jun 7, 2013.

    Mahiun Posts: 5155

    Maybe at least a partial temporary solution would be to designate more "disabled person" parking spaces among the few that remain right in downtown, so people who genuinely need to be closer could be, and the people more able to walk a couple extra blocks could do so?

    This is temporary, after all....

  • concernedcitizen posted at 7:52 am on Fri, Jun 7, 2013.

    concernedcitizen Posts: 2530

    From the movie Shrek, In the words of Lord Farquaad "... Some of you may die, but that is a sacrifice I am willing to make."

    This is the attitude of the FAB4. They could care LESS which businesses will die from the result of their arrogant, selfish greed.

  • mister d posted at 7:25 am on Fri, Jun 7, 2013.

    mister d Posts: 1531

    Downtown caters to the tourist so I really have no sympathy for them. The businesses in the areas of town that residents live seem to be thriving. Maybe we should repair the streets where the people actually shop instead of continually dumping money into an area most locals do not shop.

  • dasher posted at 7:20 am on Fri, Jun 7, 2013.

    dasher Posts: 166

    People need to think outside the box. There is still plenty of parking. I was down there just the other day, didn't have to pay and only walked an extra three blocks. It's not like I had to go "so far" out of my way. Yes, it will affect the lazy people who are all of the "don't inconvenience me" attitude. Enjoy the chance to get out and see the changes going on.

    Now, I know that the lazy, to good to be inconvenienced types will stay away, and those are probably the ones that are spending all the money, and for the small businesses, it will hurt. Change is never easy, and downtown is getting the worst of it right now. Hang in there. It will all be over before you know it.

  • SamuelStanding posted at 7:17 am on Fri, Jun 7, 2013.

    SamuelStanding Posts: 554

    Ha ha ha ha...ahhhh
    Miss Botelho -we live in the Inland NW ...with snow and cold weather. When would you have liked this mess to have started?

    This really should help Riverstone and all of the vendors there. Parking, shopping within walking distance. Who needs downtown?

    And of course the Secretary of the Downtown Assoication is going to look at this positively! Come on! Do you think he would want to say "Construction ALWAYS is a fiasco and hurts the earnings of a business." Think of all the struggles businesses have had with the road re-vamping on Government Way. Some survive and some don't -why would the Downtown Association admit to this? Why would the City Council look at a PLAN prior to major construction during the only few months of warm weather in the area? Heck! The only PLAN was to push this self obssessed project through before being booted out of office.

  • voxpop posted at 5:23 am on Fri, Jun 7, 2013.

    voxpop Posts: 738

    Instead of blaming parking and construction, the smaller downtown business owners should cast their eyes askance at their larger brethren who twiddled the city council's strings to force the taxpayers to pay for their Christmas list. Maybe if they asked very nicely those same smallish business owners could get those same strings twiddled such that they'd receive compensation - all at the taxpayer's expense of course.

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