Oakland to offer parking discounts to encourage going out

Oakland city leaders are planning a program to offer discounted and protected parking in the city. 

The goal is to encourage more people to shop, dine and go out to concerts in Oakland, without worrying about auto burglaries and theft.

Under the pilot program announced Tuesday, people would be able to park in the public parking garage at 19th and Franklin streets for $5 after 5 p.m.

Mayor Sheng Thao is calling it the "Five after Five" program.

Emile Wahbeh owns Aroma Cafe, right across the street from the public parking garage at 19th and Franklin.

He said it is safer for customers to park there, than on the street, right outside his business.

"Middle of the day, there's customers who come in and by the time they get to their car they're window's bashed and their stuff is taken," Wahbeh said. "It's not good for business."

Wahbe said a couple weeks ago, burglars broke into his business and several others on this block of 19th street and Franklin.

SEE ALSO: Oakland restaurants fed up with car break-ins explore private parking and security

Despite that, he says he's feeling more optimistic ever since two Oakland police officers introduced themselves a few weeks ago, to tell him they'd be patrolling the neighborhood.

"I've seen things cleaned up a little bit. I'm hoping for more to come," Wahbeh said.

The city of Oakland has seen an increase in property crimes in the past year, the latest data shows robberies are up 36% from this week last year, burglaries, including car break-ins, are up 35%, carjackings are up 24% and auto thefts are up 51%.

"We would spend more time and more money in Oakland if we had safe parking, nearby," said Poppy Heron, who lives in the building across the street from the 19th Street Public Parking Garage.

She said a discounted, $5-per-evening rate is a big plus.

"Car break-ins are definitely a concern for friends who come to visit me," she said. "I've had friends say if they can't park in my building they wont come."

Even though Aroma Cafe isn't open in the evenings, Wahbeh said he welcomes a plan to offer discounted and protected parking there, any time of day.

"It can't hurt. It can't hurt. Any incentive is very welcome."