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St. Paul residents shout, boo at meeting about Grand Ave. parking meters

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People are not happy about the parking meter proposal for St. Paul's Grand Avenue.

At a community meeting Monday night – touted in an email as "your chance to let Mayor [Chris] Coleman hear your voice" – a few hundred mostly angry residents let the mayor have it, the Star Tribune reports.

Coleman was "shouted down" while trying to explain the proposal; boos and yelling from the crowd were also common, the paper says.

So what's everyone upset about?

Well it comes from Coleman's budget address back in August, when he suggested looking at the parking situation in St. Paul. Part of it includes a pilot program that would install parking meters, pushing long-term parkers toward ramps and lots while freeing up the on-street parking for people who want to shop local businesses.

Grand Avenue was selected to be one of the pilot locations, the Pioneer Press reported last month. From 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. it would be $1 an hour; from 6-10 p.m., $2 an hour.

City officials say it would bring in about $400,000 in revenue annually.

At Streets.mn, a site that looks at transportation and land use in the Twin Cities, writer Mike Sonn argues parking meters will work along Grand Avenue. Not having meters leads to "little turn over," which then results in "circling for open spots and double parking" – a danger to everyone on the road, he says.

MinnPost broke down the argument too, saying parking for cities is a "catch-22." Meters is really the only way to get people in and out of parking spots more frequently – otherwise you end up with lots of driving around, searching, then "a spontaneous U-turn to 'grab' a just-opened spot," he writes.

But local businesses aren't thrilled, as they made it known at Monday's meeting – the first chance for residents to express their opinions directly to the mayor and others.

"Why are we only taxing one area of St. Paul to make up for a citywide budget problem?" Jon Perrone, a member of the Grand Avenue Business Association, said at the meeting, according to the Pioneer Press.

Coleman, before the meeting wrapped up, said nothing is decided – they've got more than a month before the budget is finalized, and are still weighing all the feedback.

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