Patch Poll: Should Jurors Pay For Parking In Martinez?

The mayor and at least one city council member believe that jurors in Martinez should not have parking tickets forgiven. What do you think?

It's difficult to be a juror - you have to take time off of your daily routine, sit in a courtroom and listen to hours of often-boring legalese. After the trial itself, you find yourself in a room with other strangers where the fate of one or more lives rests with your decision. This can take days, and even weeks.

So to ask jurors to find and pay for parking might seem a bit out of line. Presently, jurors who receive a parking ticket in Martinez will have it forgiven by the courts. 

But lately, there is a move to have that reversed. , when the subject of new credit card-reading meters were being discussed. Mayor Rob Schroder agreeed, pointing out that the jurors in Walnut Creek courtrooms are required to pay for their own parking. 

Merchants have long decried the unfairness of having their customers required to pay up at the meter or face expensive parking fines, while jurors take up precious downtown spaces for nothing. Others say that jurors are serving an important function in our society, are being exposed to downtown businesses they otherwise might not see, and should get a break. 

What do you say? Should jurors have to pay for parking in Martinez? Tell us in the comments. 

Pat Corr May 25, 2012 at 02:37 PM
Jurors are not here by choice - they're fulfilling a civic duty and possibly missing work. The county should build a two-story garage just west of the Bray courthouse just for jurors, much as it would annoy the residents uphill! P. Corr
Patrick J. McNamara May 25, 2012 at 02:45 PM
I'm pretty sure there is more than one horse in town. Julian?? Sure, I would prefer not to keep my ashtray stocked with quarters, but parking meters serve a purpose other than mere revenue. They regulate the cycling of parked cars so that one car can't hog one parking spot all day. That creates openings for cars coming downtown to shop, but which would otherwise have no spaces available because there was no time limit imposed by the meters. Not all edification comes from the library. It seems to me there could be a jurors-only lot, where a daily pass included in the jury summons would need to be displayed on the dash (or hung on the mirror) would protect the parked cars from tickets or the hook. How about the old sheriffs patrol car lot just east of the 12-story building?
Melissa Fail May 25, 2012 at 02:56 PM
This off site parking idea sounds great...why didn't the city think of this eariler?
Dick Duncan May 25, 2012 at 03:03 PM
Court system should supply parking for jurors that does not take up Downtown street spaces. I don' like meters, but they serve a purpose here in trying to keep parking spaces turning over in the business district. If you are going to have meters on the street, everybody should pay, including City Council, out of town Law Enforcement Officers and Jurors if they choose to park on the street. No extended parking in front of green zone at Post Office either. No forgiveness on tickets for anyone.
Jim Caroompas (Editor) May 25, 2012 at 03:08 PM
The county could certainly construct a lot, but they have made it clear that's not going to happen. The city/county relationship has never been robust - the county feels as though it brings people to the city, which obviously benefits the city. The city has often felt impinged upon by the county, which can build whatever it wants with little or no regard to the effect on parking, etc., and without approval from the city. It's a shame that this relationship has never been nurtured; it's always been more like a truce. A multi-story parking garage is the reason for parking meters downtown - there is a parking fund that the meter revenues are supposed to be supplying that will eventually fund this promised garage. But that has been (and no doubt will continue to be) a pretty ferocious battle in terms of location, size, etc. If you thought a pot club or a lice salon was controversial, wait until you see the crossed swords over the parking garage.
Jenny J Starmack May 25, 2012 at 03:22 PM
There is a parking lot directly across from my apartment on Escobar that is empty every day because it says "Building Inspection Only". The County Building Inspection Department moved out of downtown MONTHS ago. Could easily hold 20 to 30 jurors cars. Its out of the heart of downtown but still within walking distance. And it has a cool view of the Marina !!
Lawrence Risner May 25, 2012 at 03:38 PM
I guess the city officials haven't noticed that both Concord and Walnut Creek have ample free garage parking along with their metered street parking. I would also think that they would be doing things to encourage shopping in town other than chase customers away by increasing parking costs along with adding more overhead costs to the businesses. Guess they haven't gone grocery shopping lately to see what is happening with the consumer's pocket books due to increased fuel costs, etc.. Are they striving for more empty store fronts?
Lawrence Risner May 25, 2012 at 03:40 PM
Oh yeah, I would say "take away the free parking for the city officials" but they probably don't shop in town anyway!
Patrick J. McNamara May 25, 2012 at 03:59 PM
Jenny I think that's the lot I referred to above, that once housed the sheriffs' patrol cars back when the sheriff's office was behind the 12-story building.
marian broadhurst May 25, 2012 at 05:03 PM
My daughter recently had jury duty. She was issued a parking pass that allowed her to park on certain streets downtown at no charge. That should not change. People who serve on jury duty many times give up their income for the duration of a trial. The stipend many times doesn't cover costs jury members incur to serve. My husband was on a 3 month murder trial and at the time was a self employed contractor. I hate to tell you the impact that had on our family. My husband was proud to do his duty but to charge parking would have added insult to financial injury.
Donna Allen May 25, 2012 at 05:11 PM
Parking meters do not assure a turnover of cars. Two hour parking that is enforced would. Some people park on Main Street and just feed the meter. Jurors could not park in two hour zones. They should be required to park in County lots, including the one behind 651 Court Street, the one behind the jail, the old Building Inspection Lot and the one bounded by Escobar, Marina Vista and Pine Streets. I agree that more needs to be done to nurture the City County relationship. The County has never felt the need to "practice what they preach." The County holds developers to parking standards, but not themselves. The lot behind 651 Pine Street could easily be turned into a parking structure that would provide adequate parking for all of their employees and jurors and it would affect no views. If the rest of downtown was two hour only with NO exclusions we would be fine. It's time for there to be some meaningful communication going on between the City and County. It should start with a discussion regarding the County's future plans. Are they going to move everyone out of 651 Pine and leave that monstrosity vacant, much as the old jail? Are they going to implode it and build something new? with parking?
Jacquelyn Jennings May 25, 2012 at 05:29 PM
Why is this city against more visitors? Jurors eat and walk through shops even though they are stuck on jury duty. Another thing as far as the other court houses like Concord, Walnut Creek etc. If we were followers our downtown would not look dead. Our little town should not even have meters. Martinez is desperate for people to at least notice what our town has to offer. Jurors are our captured audience. We pay for meter officers and now we are paying for new card receiving meters. Come on be the quaint town we want to project. Example Truckee, Sutter Creek., etc. Get a darn parking lot for jurors Monday through Thursday so they can spend their money on the 1 1/2 hour lunch. If it is true our city officials do not pay for parking I am not shocked after all they are just like the rest of our elected officials. They really believe they are better than the rest of us and deserve more.
Dick Duncan May 25, 2012 at 05:44 PM
Marian, I appreciate your comments, Jurors should get compensation for transportation whether mileage for their car or public transportation costs. That should include parking costs as well. We all have a responsibility to serve on jury duty and it can have serious impacts for which relief of duty is sometimes given. That said, the public at large should bear the costs by having these out of pockets reimbursed. It is not the responsibility of the City of Martinez to provide the parking for the County or the Court System.
Jim Caroompas (Editor) May 25, 2012 at 05:48 PM
I have always thought of 651 Pine Street as the world's largest cigarette machine. . . it has all the architectural elegance of one.
Dick Duncan May 25, 2012 at 06:10 PM
Donna with regards to "assure", I recall my fathers advise, it was "death and taxes" as a sure bet. Onward, you make good points to which I agree. Re: the Pine Street Administration Bldg., they are pretty much out of their. Board of Supes and attendant administration is about all that's left. I would imagine that will be gone at some point when they get the funding. My vision for that building is to remove the top 2/3 rds and convert what remains into live work space for artist , hi tech professionals and successful entrepreneurs. I don't want to hear all the BS about asbestos, etc. etc. They built it and they can take it down - to size. The old jail would make a lovely Art Annex for local artist with a roof top Shop/Cafe. The parking lot could be reduced in size to meet the new needs of the building. The rest could be returned to residential as it was a long with the Historic Morrow house and the other two houses the County owns and has boarded up on Escobar St. Thrown in the three vacant lots and two underutilizes parking lots and the neighborhood good return from blight and regain it's past glory as home for prominent City business men / leaders and including judges and a sheriff. Some mighty fine Victorians were torn down to build the County eyesore we are currently stuck with.
Robert Rothgery May 25, 2012 at 06:18 PM
Check out this link. This is how parking is done in Budapest: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d0iUPtjfByU
Lawrence Risner May 25, 2012 at 07:13 PM
Small towns that desire business and tourists do have the 2-hour parking without meters - what a concept! I do hope that Martinez never loses the little quaintness it has left - no thanks to stripping out the 500 block (what a mistake). Jurors should not have to pay for parking nor should the businesses have to subsidize parking fees or pay to have platforms for outside dinning. Until the citizens face the facts that the current city officials have no stake in Martinez except for their own selfish needs nothing will get better for everyone. There is enough tax monies going to unnecessary uses and pockets that if recovered would more than make up for the costs and losses of bettering Main street without parking meters or merchants footing the bill.
marian broadhurst May 25, 2012 at 07:35 PM
"It is not the responsibility of the City of Martinez to provide the parking for the County or the Court System." - Dick the Court System and the County are the biggest people draws into downtown Martinez. The very least the city can do is gratis the juror's parking so they have time on their lunch hour to walk all the way down Main Street to partake of the restaurants and shopping. I understand the city will be getting new parking meters, to replace the ones that constantly say failed or are so fogged that people can't read what the meter says. How about putting in proper, modern meters, (sooner than later), servicing them regularly and collecting the revenue the city should be getting from shoppers and business visitors daily without alienating visitors who are doing their civic duty. Jurors who have to feed a meter, or pay parking on top of all their other costs are not going to look at coming to Martinez as a pleasant experience after their tour of duty is over. I've attended court in Walnut Creek and Concord. They provide free parking for those facilities.
Withmar May 25, 2012 at 07:43 PM
Link to opening scene http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=bneviIHiIKs
Dick Duncan May 25, 2012 at 10:21 PM
The Court System provides a fresh supply of juror's almost every week and it does wonders for the lunch trade and a couple of retail shops that have great business models and can work that demographic -Leah's Closet being the prime example. Unfortunately, the juror input does next to nothing for developing a Downtown that it is trying to work it's way into the "destination" business. That is where we get the chance to develop some real economic vitality that will add some real revitalization. Then we will be able to attract more businesses to serve the needs of the community and make our town the kind of place we all talk about and want including more young home owners who embrace small town values. The Court in Walnut Creek has it's own parking lot, what a concept. And, if you take a walk Downtown Martinez, you will find the new meters installed and creating some puzzled looks as people try and figure out the hours and what it cost while fumbling with change and / or credit card.
marian broadhurst May 26, 2012 at 02:22 AM
Thursday I parked at two failed meters before I parked at a working meter (all three were ancient). Hopefully the city will service the new meters more efficiently than they did the older models. Martinez was to obtain meters similar to the ones installed and successfully used in Redwood City, so when they are all finally converted people should be able to figure them out The grandiose and in my opinion somewhat unrealistic vision of what Martinez should be is hobbled by what Martinez is, which is in most cases a sadly dilapidated group of buildings with insufficient parking, way off the beaten path. While other retail stores have tried and failed to bring people to town, the antique stores have continued to draw people in the face of local disdain. The farmer's markets are popular, but the Sunday market blocks businesses, and removes parking options for visitors to the retail establishments. The quilt shop was bringing people in by the busload from communities all over the bay area, but the shop needed to provide classes to be viable, and with their front blocked with various activities it became difficult for the owner to continue making a living. Now, even though there is a specific plan ("that cost lots of money") a committee is going to be studying deviating from the plan. The fighting and stalling go on forever, so I don't know why I bother responding. I sense condescension and sarcasm.in your remarks which makes me more disenfranchised. Polarization.
marian broadhurst May 26, 2012 at 02:58 AM
I got way off topic - Jurors are only allowed to park on certain side streets. If they are not parking where they are permitted, then they should be issued a ticket when their meter expires. If it ain't broke, don't fix it. disengaged - rather than disenfranchised - although as a person who has owned/will own a business on Main St., my right to have a business in a vibrant downtown is endlessly hindered.
Anne Mobley May 26, 2012 at 08:29 PM
If I had my druthers I would say no to meters downtown. Since that is not an option, I would say meters should be for 3 hours instead of 2 hour parking. Customers want to dine and shop and cannot accomplish that within 2 hours. Customers frequently ask the time and worry about tickets. Also a validated parking program should be thought about. As for jurors, they are told where to park. If they park elsewhere, they should get a ticket. I understand Marian's problem with self-employed people, particularly when they are the one and only worker in their company. Having to serve and lose income is not fair at all. At a recent Council meeting the owner of the BBQ restaurant at Main/Castro said the meters behind his business were so full of coin no one came to empty them. Metered parking only chases people to PH or Benicia, where they can shop, dine, and get services without paid parking. I hope the new meters tell customers that there is no metered parking on weekends and holidays.
Chris Kapsalis May 26, 2012 at 10:16 PM
I agree Anne. Nothing says thank you for shopping in Martinez like a parking ticket. For taking too long shopping? Or trying to eat and shop in the same visit? Who do they think they are, guests?
Lawrence Risner May 27, 2012 at 04:09 PM
Why don't the city officials think up things to help the businesses and encourage customers to shop here? The increase in sales taxes collected should help cover some of the costs. This makes as much sense as a business not getting enough income so they increase the prices and then go bankrupt instead of lowering their margin by reducing prices and thus selling more products. When times are tough it doesn't help to make it tougher.
Anne Mobley May 27, 2012 at 08:52 PM
Mr. Risner, you should run for City Council. You are so right on!!!
Carol Ferrara May 27, 2012 at 09:29 PM
Very good..... Don't hold your breath...... Financially we are strapped.
Lawrence Risner May 28, 2012 at 03:53 PM
Sorry to say but the entire group there needs to be replaced with "pro-towners", I just noticed that if all of Main street were one-way and the 500 block patios extended the full length of Main street along with diagonal parking there wouldn't be much of a parking space loss - what about that? With the diagonal parking 2 cars fit in a single parallel space. I still can't see what the problem is with paving the 500 block - is it worse than Pacheco Blvd and the planters with trees? Guess when Pacheco Blvd comes due to be resurfaced all the trees and planters will have to be removed first. Oh yeah, almost forgot - the "city officials" will first have to hire a consultant to confirm that.
Anne Mobley May 28, 2012 at 08:30 PM
Mr. Risner, I like your sense of humor. You are right about the parking, and I totally agree with the paving comment too. It is just one of the few excuses they are using to destroy what has worked since August 1998 for almost 14 years. Now anyone with a brain would see that it should have been continued to the Court House so our downtown would look inviting and the City would not have to have hired a consultant to tell them that in 2011-12 that outdoor dining is the trend. Even the jurors love what the 500 block has done. Instead, we are villified and rumors are spread about us that are just plain not true. Some ugly rumors come from a faction of the group that is supposed to represent downtown merchants as can be verified from comments at City Council meetings.
Lawrence Risner May 29, 2012 at 03:29 AM
Ann, I have lived in Martinez for 70yrs and had the joy of attending a city council meeting when I was 22. Needless to say it was just as frustrating then as it is now with the "good ol' boys" council and mayor running the town. I just don't know why the voters that have given them this "position of trust" don't call them up to the plate instead of seemingly be intimidated and let them run the town as they see fit. As I said before the throne they sit on needs to be lowered so the audience can look at them straight in the eye not be looked down upon. Sounds petty but the mind set is there if one thinks about it. Oh well.......


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