Dear Mayor Norton and Rochester City Council,

This morning, I got a call from Tessa Leung. She's a business owner here in Rochester and she was mad. What was she mad about? She put it on her brew-pub's Facebook Page...

I hear what she's saying (and it is not just being upset over a parking ticket). It is such a hard time for so many small Rochester businesses. To be clear, there has been city action taken. The Rochester City Council voted to allocate money to help local...

Among them are two areas of new funding: $250,000 to support the Neighbors Helping Neighbors Team and $100,000 to support the Local Economic Stability Team.

The council also directed staff to work with the RAEDI organization to prioritize and manage $250,000 in existing funds for low-interest loans to impacted businesses. (Read more HERE)

...and that's a huge step. Sadly, that's a drop in the bucket when you consider how many businesses in town might need to share that pot.

So, some questions...

a) Could some sort of temporary fee abatement be worked out?

ii) Do we need to police the parking meters right now? Could businesses be responsible for calling and reporting parking that's interfering with business?

We're an amazing community, with a vibrant and growing culture and businesses section, and we can't lose our local small businesses. On top of heavy taxes and fees, the Coronavirus crisis is adding a burden that could wipe out many of them.

Small business is a part of what makes Rochester unique and powerful.

Sincerely,

James Rabe

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I got in touch with Mayor Kim Norton to get her thoughts...

Meters are still enforced. We may be dealing with it tonight. We were trying to make certain that customers could still get to businesses rather than those places be taken up by employees!

Other ideas/relief are in the works...it’s just been a week. I know (and understand) people are anxious, but communication w ideas and a tiny bit of patience would help us provide the best relief in these unprecedented times.

I have faith in you, Rochester.

UPDATE (3/24/20 11:30 AM): The City of Rochester just issued a temporary suspension on meter enforcement. The media alert reads as follows:

City Administration issued a 30-day moratorium on meter enforcement, effective immediately. This temporary measure, supported by the Chamber of Commerce and the Rochester Downtown Alliance, is subject to change as necessary to meet the needs of the community. Businesses that require parking for take-out services can obtain a Right of Way permit from the Public Works Department (pwpermits@rochestermn.gov).

This measure further loosens parking restrictions in the downtown district in order to support the City’s economic stability objectives. Parkers are urged to only use these metered spaces for short term use. Last week, the city announced an end to season parking requirements such as alternate side parking. Also, the enforcement of residential parking permit zones has been suspended until the end of March.

All other parking ordinances remain in effect including no parking zones (including driveways, fire hydrants, and mailboxes), and overnight parking restrictions. Please observe all posted signs in the downtown area.

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