Norwalk's parking problems are the same old story seen in countless downtown business communities.
The same story played out in Sandusky not too many years ago.
Some business owners and employees take all the of the most convenient parking spaces, abuse time limits and other business owners complain about the lack of parking and how it drives away customers. Cities react by enforcing parking laws and ticketing offenders. Then business owners eventually complain about the situation and how the ticketing is driving away customers.
This cyclical problem isn't going away anytime soon, especially with downtown centers built in a different era when everybody and their brother didn't have a car. Simply put, there are more cars and more demand for these limited spaces than ever before.
If downtown business centers are to survive, parking needs to be ample and as convenient as the local strip center or regional mall. Contemporary retail centers built to resemble downtowns are flourishing, in part, because they provide customers with ample parking.
Business owners, even ones with businesses not based on walk-up foot traffic, need to understand parking is the lifeline to making a downtown business center flourish and, in turn, keep property values strong for the benefit of all. And parking needs to be convenient for the customers; the owners and employees can walk a little.
There's nothing to be gained from empty storefronts and boarded-up windows.
So the next time business owners complain about parking problems, it might be wise for them to take a look in the mirror first and make sure they and their employees are part of the solution, not the problem.