Property Owner Takes It Upon Himself to Help Fix Downtown Tracy’s Parking Problems

TRACY -- In the last five years, 10th Street in downtown Tracy has seen a dramatic makeover.

Tattoo parlors and second-hand stores have given way to restaurants, boutiques and hair salons. But it is a victim of its own success when it comes to storefront parking.

“We definitely have to circle and it’d be nice to be able to pull in and pull out," said visitor Keri Swanger.

It’s not a new issue, but business owners on the street still raised eyebrows when a flyer was delivered to them by a private security firm. It tells business owners and employees, in no uncertain terms, to park in public lots off the street in favor of customers. It says the security service will monitor the current two-hour parking limit on 10th Street as well as Central Avenue, even though only the city has the power to write out parking tickets.

“I think it could have been done another way, I think a meeting with the stores, the managers, the employees would have been proper," said Vanessa Lopez, manager of Hector John Boutique.

The flyers were the work of downtown property owner Byron Alvarez, whose immigrant family has a long history in the downtown. It was his father who got rid of hated parking meters in the 70's.

He says owners and workers should use several large, free parking lots behind the storefronts on 10th, leaving street parking for customers.

"It's a convenience for the customer. We don't want to penalize the customer. And our goal is not to have the parking meters back," Alvarez said.

Many downtown storefront merchants actually agree with much of what Alvarez has to say, even though he is a bit heavy-handed in his approach.

“I don’t necessarily agree with the way he did it, but I totally understand his passion," said Ken Cefalu, owner of Main Street Music.

Cefalu has a lot of walk-in customers, especially for music lessons. He says workers at banks, realtors and offices should not be parking on the street.

“We want to preserve the parking in the front of the stores for the customers," he said.

Alvarez, who had a big role making 10th Street into a destination spot in Tracy, doesn't apologize.

“I tend to go from point A to point B without going any of the other places," Alvarez said. "I tend to be a little more direct."

In fact, Alvarez calls the flyers a soft approach. The hammer will come at the end of the month when he wants the city to start to enforce the existing street parking rules.