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Parking and the comp plan

Moira Lemperle, writing on behalf of the Monroe Avenue Merchants Association, objects to the city's plan to eliminate parking requirements from the zoning code. It is ironic that the Merchants Association wants to keep a regulation that most of its members don't comply with.

Most of the storefronts on Monroe Avenue don't have off-street parking. Every time a new business opens, it must apply for a zoning variance. While the variances are almost always granted, they create extra paperwork for the merchants, the city, and the neighbors, and the area seems to function just fine without the extra parking. Were existing regulations to actually be enforced, we would need to bulldoze half the neighborhood to build parking lots. As a resident, that's the last thing I want.

Ultimately, if the merchants think it is important to provide off-street parking to their customers, they will still be free to do so.


As someone who is deeply concerned about climate change, I am encouraged by the vision for Rochester's future described in the draft Rochester 2034 Comprehensive Plan. Change is coming to Rochester, whether we like it or not. If we act quickly to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, transition to a clean-energy economy, and prepare for the inevitable impacts of global warming, Rochester has the potential to thrive over the coming decades. If we fail to implement effective, systems-level climate solutions in a timely manner, the consequences will be unspeakably grave.

With this in mind, I have been following the response to the proposed Comprehensive Plan with great interest. For example, some residents and business owners are concerned about how zoning changes will impact the availability of parking spaces. Though their fears may be warranted to some degree, I would argue that our long-term safety and prosperity as a community depends on bold action to dramatically reduce the number of cars on our roads, and that limiting the availability of parking spaces can help to move us in that direction.

Of course, that can't be the only strategy we use to transform our transportation system. We'll need to make it easier and safer for people to walk, bike, and take public transit, which the Comprehensive Plan addresses. Residents can also help by choosing to frequent neighborhood businesses and send their children to neighborhood schools.

We've reached the point where climate impacts need to be part of the calculus in every decision we make. As individuals, we have the opportunity to make a positive difference with every plant-based meal we eat, light switch we turn off, plastic bag we refuse, food scrap we compost, candidate we elect, etc. The decisions our elected leaders make on our behalf are even more impactful, so it's important that we support their efforts to implement effective climate solutions, even when those solutions aren't perfect.

Change is coming to Rochester, so we have to ask ourselves whether we prefer fewer parking spaces or more extreme storms, meat with every meal or a reliable food system that provides adequate nutrition for everyone, wind turbines blocking our views of the lake or children suffering from asthma due to air pollution from fossil fuel combustion.

That may sound rather bleak and dramatic, but it's what the science says we can expect if we don't act now to stabilize our climate. Personally, I am glad that our City government is planning to act.


McHugh-Grifa is executive director of the Rochester People's Climate Coalition.

Is Trump a racist?

No doubt there will be plenty of pushback to what I regard as Brian McKenzie's thoughtful statements against defining the president as a racist and purveyor of hate (Feedback). But I hope such ideas can help lower the temperature about discussion of racism in our times and where and in whom to call it out.

Yes, I am a Republican and also a regular viewer of Fox News. I silently seconded the statements of frequently snarky and annoying Greg Gutfeld's on "The Five" recently. "Racism is a theme in this country where the demand for it exceeds the supply – therefore the left and the media need to invent it..

The writer John McWhorter has also noted in "Antiracism, Our Flawed New Religion": "There are plenty of people, especially white people, who believe that racism is a simple binary and that they dwell on the better side of it."

And author Ken Stern adds in "Republican Like Me; How I Left the Liberal Bubble and Learned to Love the Right": "The fact that the educated elites, whose status and economic positioning are not challenged by increased immigration, have tried to enforce a cultural norm supporting immigration and multi-culturalism as an alloyed good (and that objections to it must come from some latent racism) has not helped matters terribly much."

We can all benefit, in my view, by tackling these issues without being driven by virtue-signaling and name-calling, which I think arises from fear on both sides of the divide, and also with some calm modicum of understanding about the frailties of our inherited human nature and what to do about them.

I respect the views of Mr. McKenzie and his efforts to define them and also the fairness of City in publishing them.


In response to Brian Mckenzie's essay on why Donald Trump is not racist: I say, "Can you come up with something else. This banal trope is as old as the structure of racism itself. And as we approach 2020, we are better served using our time to advocate for antiracism and a dismantling of the white supremacy culture that has allowed tone-deaf ideologies espoused in this "opinion" piece to proliferate in 2019.

We are definitely better served using our time, words, and energy educating and enlightening those whose privilege has allowed them to passively benefit from the system of racism even though they themselves may not explicitly do or say anything racist.

 Donald Trump has never been part of this group and has decades of evidence showing how he has not only benefited from the system of racism but espoused it in very explicit ways (despite having hired a black woman in the past).

If you cannot see how many of Donald's Trump's public comments, tweets, actions, and ways of being are racist, xenophobic, sexist, misogynist, ableist, and much more, then your perspective is most likely just as problematic as his.