Good step on parking

EDITORIALS

BY ART CULLEN

Banning overnight parking on downtown streets sounds like a good first step in allowing space for retail customers during business hours. The Storm Lake City Council did so this week after discussions among staff, retailers and building owners who rent to residential tenants upstairs on Lake Avenue. There have been efforts to encourage tenants to park in city lots that often go empty, but if a parking slot is right below your apartment and there is nothing to prevent you, why park anyplace else?

Some landlords require in their leases that tenants do not park on Lake Avenue, in front of stores.

Still, slots are at a premium during the day when shops and cafes are open. The proprietors can watch their customers slowly drive by looking for a place to land, then drive off to do their business where it is more convenient. If we want and expect a healthy downtown, we cannot block customer access to retailers. But we are.

Developing more parking along Railroad Street is another idea, and long has been. Those spaces will not be used unless vehicle owners are induced to park there. The ban is a good start, but people who get off the graveyard shift can sleep the day away with their car on Lake Avenue below. The overnight ban might not be enough. We have suggested putting up signs limiting parking to three hours. Enforce it a few times and everyone will get the message. We are told that is unwelcoming. We think it is unwelcoming not being able to find a parking spot.

Let’s hope that the ban, and more tenant education, will provide the relief that downtown retailers have needed for years. If not, the city should be prepared to take further steps.

THE COUNCIL SHOWED good faith this week with the Storm Lake Marina vendor, Buoy’s. The city agreed to cover costs for a dock Buoy’s installed that is necessary for its business. Buoy’s is trying to make a go of it where nobody has before, and must have decent facilities to present to customers. The city council showed that it understands, and is encouraging more communication. The Iowa Department of Natural Resources must be included in those talks to make certain its investment is being protected by funding depreciation for capital expenses like docks and fuel pumps. The city council threw Buoy’s a lifeline, but owner Nate Jensen is wondering why he is sinking so much money into the place. Let’s not scare off another marina vendor just when things are starting to gel.

Silly talk

More chills of fear ripped through Storm Lake this week as President Trump pledged to deport millions of immigrants starting next week. He used a Florida campaign rally to promise supporters that he is making good on his pledge to ship out the undocumented, turn back refugees and build a wall spanning the border. Problem is, Trump failed to tell Immigration Customs Enforcement before the rally. There is no way ICE can round up “millions” of undocumented and ship them out — not in the next week or the next 520 weeks. The entire homeland security apparatus cannot handle a flow of refugees in the thousands without losing children.

The point is to sustain the fear of immigrants, and to instill fear in our new neighbors to keep their heads down. It is not to make Storm Lake safer.

Nothing changes with this announcement. ICE is constantly tracking down criminal aliens, as are local police. We do not expect any raid soon on Tyson’s pork and turkey plants, which use the government’s E-Verify system. ICE is more likely to raid construction outfits and ag operations not using E-Verify, 20 or 30 is a big raid. Often, when local authorities call to notify ICE that they have a bad guy without papers, ICE never bothers to show up.

It’s all about campaign sound bytes.

Like Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, saying that she is blocking the spread of socialism from coast to coast by running for re-election. If she started perspiring heavily she would remind us of Joe McCarthy. We are reduced to saying such silly things because the likes of Trump and Ernst set the tone. It is stupid and shallow. It creates fear. Who seriously thinks the dairy industry can operate without Latinos? Certainly not Rep. Devin Nunes of California, whose family runs such an operation at Sibley. Nunes carries water for Trump. So does Ernst. She says she is a “free-trade gal” but she pledged her fealty to the fearless leader Trump once again during her ride on Air Force One. She said she thinks that Iowa farmers are okay with the trade war with China for now. The Farm Bureau says a third trade bailout probably is needed. And Trump thinks that Iowans are okay with shipping out the hired help to Mexico. Who will milk those cows and scoop their manure?

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