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Gilroy
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February 1, 2023

Welcome to friendly downtown Gilroy?

Welcome to beautiful downtown Gilroy? That’s not the warm fuzzy feeling you get if you park in the private section of the Fifth Street parking lot. If you are unable to park there because the owners have it chained off (not the welcome mat we recommend), you might save a bundle of money.

If you happen to park there when the chains are down to dine at OD’s or to play billiards at Garlic City Billiards, you’re safe from the tow truck – as long as you don’t leave those establishments to shop elsewhere or stay beyond the witching hour after OD’s closes.

If you do, and Bob Tapella, the owner of Garlic City Billiards catches you, beware: your vehicle will be towed. That not only will cost you $200 to get the car back, it’ll take precious time to track down the car.

Now, the owner of GC Billiards does, in fact, own that section of the lot, and he is within his rights to secure it for his customers only. But does keeping it ferociously private display the hospitality, welcoming and community spirit we like to think are typical in Gilroy? No.

Take the case of Maryalice Ritti, a visitor from Morgan Hill who ate at OD’s and, horrors, took a shopping stroll downtown afterward.

She described her very expensive lunch at OD’s ($22 plus a 20 percent tip and $175 for parking since her car was towed from the lot) in an eloquent letter to the editor that pondered the cost of an alternate lunch date at posh Pebble Beach.

There has to be a better solution. If downtown Gilroy isn’t customer friendly we may as well take down all those new awnings and burn ’em in the middle of Monterey Street.

Tapella, rightfully, is concerned about parking for his patrons. But his signage needs to be crystal clear so that an unsuspecting patron at OD’s doesn’t have his or her day ruined and pocket picked for taking a stroll down our friendly sidewalks.

Why not offer some extra spaces downtown when GC Billiards is not open? That would contribute to Gilroy hospitality and downtown cooperation. If OD’s closes at 2pm and the billiards establishment opens at 4pm, couldn’t people use the parking lot in between?

Other towns use parking perks as incentives to draw and encourage business. For example, you can park free on the street and in many garages and lots in downtown San Jose after 6pm. This means that you can dine, shop or stroll without worrying about parking meters or towing.

Mayor Al Pinheiro, a champion of downtown, and the downtown merchants should talk this situation over with Mr. Tapella.

Can’t a solution – that expresses the community spirit and “Support Your Local Downtown” attitude we espouse in Gilroy – be found?

It’s the little things that add up and make a difference. Hopefully the downtown business owners can see the forest through the trees and work on synergy instead of squabbling.

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