Welcome to our first ever Best of the North issue. It's full of cool businesses in our region north of the Ronald Reagan Highway. We have been itching to do this for some time, so we hope you enjoy.

For those who have interests other than the North, this issue has plenty of items that will spark your interest, including the fresh look of 21c, the new downtown museum-hotel that is creating a buzz.

But I want to address an issue in the city that will ultimately affect everyone in the region. There is a plan before Cincinnati City Council to lease the rights to city-owned parking to an outside vendor to help cover the deficit in the city's budget.

Cincy is proudly headquartered downtown at the Cincinnati Club Building, and we are concerned about the inevitable rate hikes at the parking garage attached to our building and the meters around Piatt Park.

The magazine has committee meetings at least twice a month where we bring people to our office from different parts of the region. They have to park.

I concede that city issues often tend to be of interest to those who either work or live downtown, yet this issue is different because it will impact anyone who visits downtown.

Why is the city raising parking as an issue? Will there be benefits offered? No, it's about budgets, of course.

So back to the meetings at our office. What is the biggest complaint I hear?

It's not about safety (thank you very much, Cincinnati Police). It's that our visitors couldn't find parking, or something hard to argue, that they don't want to get a ticket if they parked on the street, "so I need this to end within the hour."

What come next are the questions and hopefully some answers at the ready:

Do we validate?

Yes.

Why aren't we in a place that has free parking (insert suggestion of suburban location with a flame fireplace in the lobby)?

Have you seen the mural here in the building about the settlement of Cincinnati? We love this place.

Why make our job of selling what we know of the many positive things happening in downtown harder? First impressions are everything, and paying more than the current $2 per hour for a meter that has a 60-minute time limit is stressful. So are some proposals from potential vendors that include annual increases and longer hours of operation for downtown meters (they currently end at 5 p.m.).

This will make it harder to entice people to meet with us at our office, but more importantly, it will likely discourage people from coming downtown to enjoy great food, arts and culture.

So let's put an end to this talk. Let's show that customer service isn't just good business but good government. And please, allow those who like living and working downtown to keep the ability to sell their neighborhood. Don't sell us out.