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Downtown parking limits suspended
One-year moratorium reflects change in area's retail makeup
Restrictions on parking in downtown Willows could be become a thing of the past.
The City Council recently approved a one-year suspension on parking limits on Sycamore and Butte streets, partly to reflect the changing of the times.
Police Chief Bill Spears said merchants in the downtown now believe the timed zones are no longer necessary.
"It's the nature of the businesses," Spears said.
Willows Councilwoman Terry Taylor-Vodden said she remembers when merchants came forward nearly a decade ago asking for the restrictions.
The 30-minute to 2-hour restrictions were implemented after the City Council received numerous complaints from merchants that their customers had to compete for parking places with those who attended Butte College at the Masonic building on Butte Street, owners and employees of other businesses, county offices and volunteers at the thrift store.
But merchants who hope to revitalize Willows' downtown from empty storefronts to antique shops and other niche stores that attract tourists say timed parking would be counterproductive.
Holly Myers, who owns The Gathering and the antique mall on Sycamore Street, where parking is only 30 minutes, said the nature of those businesses should inspire people, especially those from out of town, to linger and enjoy themselves downtown.
"Thirty minutes is not enough," Myers said.
Spears said the Willows Traffic Safety Committee also recommended the removal of time limits because the Police Department does not have the staff to enforce the restrictions.
Spears said he talked to all but a few merchants in the downtown when the issue was raised.
Most, he said, want the signs to come down, although not everyone was in agreement.
Still, the City Council agreed it wouldn't hurt to try the suspension for one year.
The signs will come down after the holidays, but the poles will remain, said Mayor Jeff Cobb.
Cobb said if the suspension is made permanent after one year, the City Council will consider alternative uses for the poles.
It was suggested that signs that promote the downtown or direct the public to places of historical interest could be installed to replace the parking restrictions.
The suspended parking zones apply only to those on Sycamore Street, from Lassen to Tehama streets, and Butte Street, from Sycamore to Walnut, with the exception of the west side of the street.
Also exempt from suspension is the parking restrictions adjacent to the US Post Office and the southside of Sycamore Street, from Lassen to Plumas Street.