Is New Parking Structure Needed At E and F?

Parking-GarageA recent Davis Enterprise article began with this sentence:  “Decade-long plans to build a parking garage in the heart of downtown Davis have more traction now than ever before.”

This begs the question:  If this $14 million parking structure proposed for the large surface parking lot on the 3rd/4th/E/F block between Steve’s Place Pizza and the Bank of America buildings is such a great idea that has been around for decades, why hasn’t it been built yet?  The answer seems to be that in a calm, reasoned environment where such a project received the proper scrutiny, it wouldn’t get built.  But the current rush to commit Redevelopment Agency funds has let this questionable project come to the fore.  And if the questionable project is so big it locks up the lion’s share of RDA funds, it seems to receive no skeptical review at all.

 

The simple fact that this idea has been around for decades should make us suspicious.  These are rapidly changing times when the City of Davis is:

  • Moving to meet Climate Action Plan goals to significantly reduce our emissions, half of them coming from motor vehicles.
  • Working to implement the recently adopted Comprehensive Bicycle Plan which has a goal of 25% of all trips by bicycle by next year.
  • Engaged a group of local experts in a comprehensive review of transportation policy and projects, which has already drafted a Complete Streets goal which will bring a more balanced approached that values walking, biking, and transit access as much as motor vehicles.

All of this highlights how wrong it is to put so much of our RDA effort into supporting an environmentally and socially unsound transportation mode.  Consuming one of the last big parcels right in the center of our downtown core with a massive and expensive garage for automobiles is outdated thinking, akin to bankrupting the city to build livery stables and hay barns on that site.

But even more compelling is the evidence that we simply do not need this structure to park the vehicles we have downtown now, or large numbers of additional cars we may wish to accommodate in the future.  There has been no needs assessment demonstrating that our current supply of curbside and off-street parking is inadequate.  No comprehensive parking management program has been developed to better utilize the parking supply we have.  And no effort has been made to evaluate alternative uses for RDA funds.  Can we fund a series of projects to promote non-automobile access to our downtown and stimulate economic activity there without clogging up our streets with cars and pollution?

The Davis Bicycles! advocacy group has announced in several forums that, over the past five months, they have been surveying vacant parking spaces in the two existing City-owned parking structures.  Those provide two floors of public parking above the theater complex at 1st and F Streets, and several floors of parking behind the G Street theater complex, accessible from 4th Street.  Several dozen surveys were conducted at different times of the day, on different days of the week, with UC Davis in session and on break, and in different weather conditions from cold and raining to dry and extremely hot.  Here are the numbers:

On average, at any snapshot in time, roughly 300 vacant parking spaces can be found in these two existing parking structures.  (This excludes the 50 to 60 empty spaces behind the fenced enclosure on the roof of the garage behind the G Street theaters reserved for USDA government vehicles.)  Yes, there are contracted rights to many of the empty spaces in the G Street structure, but that points to a contract management issue, not a shortage of supply.

While the new proposal is for a 350-space parking structure, that project would displace the nearly 120 spaces currently on the heavily-wooded and shaded site.  The net gain is roughly 230 spaces, significantly less than the available parking spaces that sit empty right now in the two existing structures as you read this.  All for a cost of 14 million dollars or nearly $50,000 per new parking space.  Imaging what else we could do to improve access to downtown by foot, bicycle, and transit with those funds.  What additional improvements we could make to the experience in our special downtown once they are there.  (Hint:  Few people will comment on what a great parking structure they experienced when they visited Davis.)

Property owners, shoppers, and residents of Davis are going to be burdened with making the payments on the bonds that the RDA proposes to issue for the construction of this unjustified parking garage.  Those bills still come due, even if it sits vacant because there is no need for it and it does not generate any economic activity to support the bond payments.

For years those who have questioned the listing of this garage on any sort of document have been reassured with statements like, “Oh, it’s only a wish list.  Not to worry.”  Yet now in just a few weeks it seems to have morphed from a vague and unjustified dream to a done deal.  A bad project moved forward, just to lock up the RDA funds from forfeiture to the State of California, is still a bad project.  And no gloss of sidewalk commercial spaces, electric vehicle charging stations or shaded bike parking can transform it into a good project.

In the future, after a full and public discussion of the issues and merits of a project like this, the community may decide a new parking structure is appropriate for the downtown.  That discussion has not been initiated yet.  Even before it starts these questions must be answered to make sure all parties are operating from a sound factual basis.

  • What are our real parking needs?  How are parking structures, surface lots, curbside parking, and private lots currently utilized?
  • How will a giant car magnet like this parking structure be consistent with our emissions reduction goals?
  • How will clogging the streets with even more motor vehicle traffic make bicyclists and pedestrians uncomfortable downtown?
  • What methods do other communities with large institutions like colleges, hospitals, or corporate campuses use to keep students and employees from consuming parking meant for residents, merchants, and shoppers?
  • What will the traffic impacts be to the streets in the core area and adjacent residential neighborhoods if this structure succeeds and is full of cars rotating in and out all day long?
  • How do the time-restricted districts like Santa Cruz and San Diego control long-term parking in their beach neighborhoods work?  Could a program like those finally eliminate the curse of downtown employees moving their cars a block or two several times a day and taking up parking spaces meant for customers?  (A firmer approach to that issue might put those employees’ cars in the existing structures and free up hundreds of curbside spaces.)
  • Is it possible to revisit the contracts that keep the public from using scores of parking spaces that sit perpetually vacant in the G Street structure?
  • Is this the best location for a parking structure?  Would several smaller structures be more appropriate with the scale of our downtown?
  • How have dozens of other communities large and small in this country and abroad seen commercial activity blossom while they devoted their attention to bicycle and pedestrian access, boosted transit and restricted parking?

It is time for the Council to take a step back from this project, until all this analysis has been done.  And then begin a full public process to develop a comprehensive parking strategy for our entire downtown.

About The Author

Related posts

30 Comments

  1. rusty49

    I’m always able to find parking when I go downtown. Yes, sometimes it involves an extra trip around the corner but I always succeed. A big parking garage monstrosity isn’t needed. The two garages we have downtown now aren’t utilized to their full capacity. This would be a total waste of money and space.

  2. Dr. Wu

    [quote]Associated Press

    NEW YORK — There will be no storybook ending for Borders. The 40-year-old book seller could start shuttering its 399 remaining stores as early as Friday.

    The Ann Arbor, Mich.-based chain, which helped pioneer the big-box bookseller concept, is seeking court approval to sell off its assets after it failed to receive any bids that would keep it in business. The move adds Borders to the list of retailers that have failed to adapt to changing consumers’ shopping habits and survive the economic downturn, including Circuit City Stores Inc., Blockbuster and Linens ‘N Things.

    On Thursday, Borders is expected to ask the U.S. Bankruptcy Court of the Southern District of New York at a scheduled hearing to allow it to be sold to liquidators led by Hilco Merchant Resources and Gordon Brothers Group. If the judge approves the move, liquidation sales could start as soon as Friday; the company could go out of business by the end of September.[/quote]

  3. Don Shor

    Accessible downtown parking is one of the top priorities of the DDBA. Many of your questions could have been answered by contacting the DDBA leadership.
    Many different parking configurations have been tried with varying degrees of success. People want to park close to where they shop. The Davis Bicycles! group has successfully demonstrated that 1st and F is too far away for retail customers.
    Several smaller structures might be more effective, but I don’t know what sites you have in mind that are close to the retail hub of downtown.

  4. E Roberts Musser

    I guess I am at a loss as to why more spaces for public/employee use would not be opened up at the already existing garages, to see if that would ease some of the parking problems downtown. dmg did some spot investigation, and found that on any given day, there were 300 vacant spaces not being used. Can the city explain this?

    To Dr. Wu: I saw the same thing you did – we will lose Borders. What a shame…

  5. David M. Greenwald

    I had a long conversation with someone in the economic development department yesterday and the belief is that Borders may survive in Davis even if it crumbles nationally, has to do with franchising. I have a bigger piece coming out maybe by Thursday that will get into some of this stuff.

  6. Rifkin

    [i]”I had a long conversation with someone in the economic development department yesterday and the belief is that Borders may survive in Davis …”[/i]

    And even if Borders closes completely and that space is vacant for a while, the Davis Commons shopping center is a wild success. Its owner–Paul Petrovich?–should have no trouble at all attracting a new tenant for that great space.

    Though it might be a sad loss for book buyers, downtown Davis will be as much as or more of a success once a new store takes over that spot. Maybe we could have the best of both worlds if a Davis-owned independent bookseller moves in?

  7. Rifkin

    DON: [i]” People want to park close to where they shop.”[/i]

    I’m sure you are right in that. In practical terms, that suggests that one very large parking garage–it will be the largest and tallest building in the city of Davis–will probably not be used by drivers in the core area whose destination is more than a block away.

    In other words, people going to Central Park for the Farmer’s Market won’t use the big garage. People dining at Burgers & Brew or Pho Bac Hoa Viet won’t park there. People drinking coffee at Cloud Forest Cafe and people getting glasses at Helmus Optometry won’t use the E-F garage.

    DON: [i]”Several smaller structures might be more effective, but I don’t know what sites you have in mind that are close to the retail hub of downtown.”[/i]

    That is the real problem. It’s more expensive–probably prohibitively expensive–to build a smaller garage at the E-F site and another modestly sized garage elsewhere downtown, such as the public parking lot south of Baskin-Robbins.

    The worst area for parking in the core area (in terms of supply not meeting demand) is around 2nd & B Streets. But no one seems to want to get creative about providing more parking there. I disagree with Sue Greenwald that downtown Davis would be harmed by providing hourly parking in a 2nd & B garage for people whose destination is the campus. But I suspect most people who live in the Rice Lane neighborhood agree with her. (They have their own parking spaces!)

    One thing which could make matters better for street parking downtown is if the new E-F garage is used by a lot of people who work downtown. I’m sure some take the bus or bike to work. But for those who drive, giving them a place to park their cars all day which is not on the street itself would benefit everyone.

  8. Rifkin

    DAVID: [i]”Property owners, shoppers, and residents of Davis are going to be burdened with making the payments on the bonds that the RDA [u]proposes to issue[/u] for the construction of this unjustified parking garage.”[/i]

    Proposes to issue?!!! You have the verb tense wrong here.

    The bonds for the parking garage were sold on March 1 ([url]http://media.sacbee.com/smedia/2011/03/11/17/Redevelopment_Agency_Bond_Sales_01-01-11_through_03-08-11.source.prod_affiliate.4.pdf[/url]). We are already making interest and principal payments on the $18 million the DRDA borrowed! And the interest rates we are paying is very high. [quote]* 3/1/2011, $13,310,000, Tax-Exempt [b]7.250%[/b]
    * 3/1/2011, $4,690,000, 2011 Series B Taxable, [b]8.650%[/b][/quote] Contrast the 8.650% the DRDA is paying with the 3.7% the DJUSD is paying on its facilities bonds ([url]http://www.davisenterprise.com/local-news/schools-news/school-board-refinances-bonds-streamlines-staffing/[/url]).

    The huge disparity suggests to me that the bond buyers don’t have faith in the credit-worthiness of the DRDA. If so, I don’t blame them. I don’t see where the money is going to come from to pay back the $18 million the DRDA has borrowed.

  9. pauldorn

    The idea that retail success depends on vehicle parking access is truly obsolete thinking in this internet retailing era. See, for instance, County Fair Mall in Woodland, or any of hundreds of dead/dying malls in the U.S. The key to downtown retail success is to create an appealing [i]destination[/i]. There is almost no free parking availability in San Francisco’s Union Square, but it’s an attractive destination. Abundant parking means abundant traffic, with its consequent danger, noise, smell, hazards, nonsense…diminishing the appeal of the destination. Parking is not, repeat [i]not [/i]the key to retail success.

    A better solution would be to install parking meters and charge for parking, which would assure parking turnover. This churn of parking is really what the retailers want, turnover of prospective customers. The revenue from the meters could be used to fund downtown enhancements: landscaping, lighting, performances, etc.

    It’s really criminal to consider giving away a public resource (street space) for free use by private vehicles. Charge for parking.

  10. Don Shor

    It is regrettable that bicycle advocates are becoming adversarial toward parking increases in the downtown. The failure of County Fair Mall is not related in any way to parking; it is the result of peripheral retail development and poor land use planning decisions. Making it harder or costlier to park downtown isn’t good for anybody’s business. I sincerely doubt that downtown merchants would agree with Paul Dorn’s comments at all.
    [i]”Abundant parking means abundant traffic….”[/i]
    [b]Abundant traffic is what retailers want[/b]. We would all be delighted if those vehicles were more fuel-efficient hybrids or electric, so providing for those options is important. Providing ample bike parking, comfortable pedestrian access, and safe interaction between all modes of transport is crucial. All forms of transit need to coexist. Unfortunately, David’s article and pauldorn’s comment indicate support for a downtown model that could be harmful to the existing businesses and the financial health of the community.

  11. JustSaying

    [i][quote]“This begs the question: If this $14 million parking structure…is such a great idea that has been around for decades, why hasn’t it been built yet?”[/quote][/i]I’m not sure about Aristotle, but I pretty much agree with your writings here.

    My experience trying to find parking downtown matches rusty49’s; only once in awhile do I end up having to go to the USDA parking lot. I wonder how much paid parking would match the high-rise parking benefits.

    Of course, the DDBA folks always will want more close by, city-owned, free parking. It’s essentially a subsidy that improves the bottom line at their establishments, so I’m not sure we can depend their objectivity in setting RDA blight priorities.

    Rich, how much will we end up paying over the life of these bonds? My mortgage calculator didn’t have enough capacity to figure them. The rates do seem high, but so do all of them on the list you provided. At what point does the city expect that increased sales taxes will get us even on the parking lot project?

  12. Rifkin

    [i]”The failure of County Fair Mall is not related in any way to parking; it is the result of peripheral retail development and poor land use planning decisions.”[/i]

    There are two other factors which really hurt County Fair Mall:

    1. No fault of the Woodland stores, but the corporate parents of two of their anchor stores, Gottschalks and Mervyn’s, went out of business everywhere. And they did so–not surprisingly–at a time when almost all department store chains of that sort were in no position to replace those two anchors; and

    2. Target–a part of what Don said above–decided they liked the I-5 location better than the Hwy 113 location. So they shut down their CFM store and replaced it with the I-5 store and to some extent their new I-80 store in Davis.

    County Fair Mall attracted The Burlington Coat Factory to take the old Target location. I doubt they attract as much traffic as Target did, there. But the two big department store spaces which were vacated remain empty, and that has killed that mall for any little operators.

    One further complicating factor for County Fair Mall, beside the terrible local economy and the competing peripheral shopping centers, is that the regional retail sector was terribly overbuilt (as it was statewide and in many metro areas nationally). There are quite a number of malls in Sacramento County (to wit, Downtown Plaza, Florin and others) which are also in very bad shape. Davis is not really suffering from this problem of too many locations chasing too few stores**, but it does seem evident that the 4 pods that Target planned to develop at its Second Street Crossing location are not coming any time soon.
    ————————-
    *A bit of trivia: Burlington Coat Factory is owned by Bain Capital, the company founded by Mitt Romney.
    **When Borders closes on Friday, that space will be the biggest empty retail-type location available in Davis. I also noticed today that nothing is going on at the old Mishka’s location; and the space next door, where there used to be a Christian bookstore is also vacant.

  13. Rifkin

    Most of you are probably unaware that Coldwell Banker-Doug Arnold R/E is planning to build a new, two-story office building on D Street, just south of The Pence Gallery and west of their Hamel House headquarters on 2nd Street. I personally hope the city nixes this project. It does not fit that location. It will not in my opinion benefit downtown. However, Dave Taormino told the HRMC that he needs more office space for his agents. If I knew how to get ahold of Mr. Taormino, I would suggest the old Mishka’s and the old Christian bookstore would be fine spots (across the street from the Hamel House) to park his real estate agents.

    …. Unrelated self-promotion: You can already [b]read my column ([url]http://www.davisenterprise.com/opinion/legal-decision-lacks-common-sense/[/url])[/b], which will be published in Wednesday’s Davis Enterprise, right now on The Davis Enterprise website. I write about the decision by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals to stop medicating Jared Lee Loughner, the shooter in the Arizona Safeway massacre.

  14. Don Shor

    [i]giving away a public resource (street space) for free use[/i]
    [i]It’s essentially a subsidy[/i]

    Downtown business and property owners pay an assessment (tax) for being in the DDBA Business Improvement District. That is not optional; if you have a business or own property in the BID, you are assessed. They pay parking fees to support the existing parking facilities. These assessments and fees are not paid by peripheral businesses such as those at Second Street Crossing or in neighborhood shopping centers (as far as I know).

  15. 91 Octane

    Vanguard: “•Moving to meet Climate Action Plan goals to significantly reduce our emissions, half of them coming from motor vehicles.
    •Working to implement the recently adopted Comprehensive Bicycle Plan which has a goal of 25% of all trips by bicycle by next year.
    •Engaged a group of local experts in a comprehensive review of transportation policy and projects, which has already drafted a Complete Streets goal which will bring a more balanced approached that values walking, biking, and transit access as much as motor vehicles.”

    as if the city can control what other people do with their automobiles. I think the parking structure is a bad idea simply because it will cost too much, and shopping downtown stinks anyway.

  16. Robb

    Mr Shor – As a bike advocate I must object to your conclusion that “bicycle advocates are becoming adversarial toward parking increases in the downtown.” That is simply not the case. We are merely asking whether this particular project is a good solution to a defined problem. When bike advocates engage City Staff on projects that we believe will improve the safety of bicyclists in Davis we are asked to provide evidence of need and that the solution has been shown to work. In other words, we are asked to develop “evidence-based” solutions to real problems. We do not always succeed in providing solid evidence but we try to do our homework to demonstrate both a need and why a given solution might be workable.

    At this point this is all I am asking for: what is the evidence that a “parking problem” really exists and, if one does, in what ways does this project respond to the problem? To date I have seen no evidence. However, let us assume that there is a general lack of parking in the downtown. Then let us examine your statement: “The Davis Bicycles! group has successfully demonstrated that 1st and F is too far away for retail customers.” If this is the case then I would question how successful the project in question can be. Central Park is 0.3 miles from the garage at 1st and F. It is 0.2 miles from the corner of 3rd and F. So, my question, will people walk from the proposed garage to Central Park? The answer is… we don’t know. In fact, we don’t know if they refuse to walk from 1st and F. I would suggest that you do not even have evidence to conclude that “1st and F is too far away or retail customers.” We don’t know that and Davis Bicycles! is not claiming that. All we know is that there are nearly always empty spots in that garage and far more in the 4th Street garage. Beyond that we know little about behavior of shoppers or others driving into the downtown.

    And this gets back to my main point: before we spend $14 million on this structure we owe it to ourselves to be sure that it meets a REAL need and that it is a GOOD solution that need. Personally, I lack information about both points. Call that “adversarial” if you want. At this late date (this project has been under consideration for a number of years) one would hope that we would have such information. We do not.

    Robb Davis

  17. Rifkin

    JUST: [i]”Rich, how much will we end up paying over the life of these bonds?”[/i]

    Amount borrowed: $18,000,000.00
    Amount repaid: $36,147,230.13

    The total amount we pay back is a bit meaningless, because it’s a summation of nominal figures which are composed of declining real dollars*.

    For the $13,100,000, 7.25%**, 25-year note, the DRDA has to make 300 monthly payments of $96,205.59. After 25 years, that adds up to $28,861,678.08. Of that, $13,100,000.00 is principal repayment; $15,551,678.08 is interest.

    For the $4,690,000, 8.650%, 11-year note, the DRDA has to make 132 monthly payments of $55,193.58. After 11 years, that adds up to $7,285,552.05. Of that, $4,690,000.00 is principal repayment; $2,595,552.05 is interest.
    ———————
    *If what I believe is true, that the US dollar is going to lose half or more of its value in the next 5-10 years, the difference between the nominal dollars and the real dollars will be quite large and will make the repayment of the loan easier.

    **If it had been the case that the DRDA could have sold its two bond series at the same 3.7% interest rate the school district got, over the period of the loans the DRDA would have saved $10,010,372.73 in interest payments:

    [b]Total nominal dollars:[/b] $26,136,857.40
    [b]Interest (3.7%):[/b] $8,136,857.40
    [b]Principal:[/b] $18,000,000.00

    [b]Amount saved:[/b] $36,147,230.13 – $26,136,857.40 = $10,010,372.73

  18. Dr. Wu

    [quote]The idea that retail success depends on vehicle parking access is truly obsolete thinking in this internet retailing era. See, for instance, County Fair Mall in Woodland, or any of hundreds of dead/dying malls in the U.S. The key to downtown retail success is to create an appealing destination. There is almost no free parking availability in San Francisco’s Union Square, but it’s an attractive destination.[/quote]

    Very well said.

    AS for Borders–someone will fill the space but that is not the point. Unless we get another high quality tenant (e.g., Barnes and Noble, Victorias’s Secret, etc–many Davisites are cringing at chains store names but we need some) it hurts the downtown. Borders was an anchor. A weaker anchor means a weaker downtown.

    AS for County Fair Mall it was weak before Gottschalks and Mervyns left. Malls in general are in decline and there should be no doubt that the peripheral development in Woodland helped killed the mall. I am not sure its all that relevant for Davis but I think Mr. Rifkin misses the point here entirely.

  19. Don Shor

    [i]If this is the case then I would question how successful the project in question can be. Central Park is 0.3 miles from the garage at 1st and F. It is 0.2 miles from the corner of 3rd and F. So, my question, will people walk from the proposed garage to Central Park?[/i]
    I’m not sure why the distance from the parking structure(s) to Central Park is relevant to the issue of downtown retail.
    With regard to the adversarial tone, I was referring to comments by pauldorn:
    “.[i].. truly obsolete thinking… danger, noise, smell, hazards, nonsense…[/i]”
    and most especially to this: “[i]Parking is not, repeat not the key to retail success.[/i]”

    I would submit that lack of parking is a factor in retail failure.
    Here is a good overview of parking issues.
    [url]http://www.parking.org/media/51954/FEB10_Dennis Burns Matt Inman_web.pdf[/url]

  20. Don Shor

    For more information, try this website: [url]http://www.parking.org/membership-services/municipals.aspx[/url] and look for the pdf file:
    “Retail Parking Strategies to Support Downtown Revitalization”
    L. Dennis Burns, CAPP & Matthew Q. Inman – The Parking Professional, February 2010

  21. Rifkin

    [i]”We are merely asking whether this particular project is a good solution to a defined problem. When bike advocates engage City Staff on projects that we believe will improve the safety of bicyclists in Davis we are asked to provide evidence of need and that the solution has been shown to work.”[/i]

    Robb,

    Would Davis Bicycles! prefer some of the $18 million in RDA money be used to connect the Dave Pelz overpass to the old Olive Drive bike path? I recall you guys once had a video on the public access channel calling for that. If so, how much would that cost?

    Another possible use of the RDA money, if the E-F garage is not funded, is the Olive Drive-2nd Street over or under crossing. Anyone know how much one of those would cost?

  22. JustSaying

    [quote]Don[i]: “They (DDBA Business Improvement District) pay parking fees to support the existing parking facilities.”[/i]
    Rich: “.[i]..the $18 million in RDA money be used to connect the Dave Pelz overpass to the old Olive Drive bike path….”[/i][/quote]That’s a nice thing about the [u]Vanguard[/u]: One can learn something every day.

  23. Mr.Toad

    Joeseph Cambell once observed that ” Whoever has the tallest building runs the town.” So will a 4 story parking structure be the tallest building? Unbelievable! It will be sad to see the trees cut down and the owl boxes destroyed, replaced by a monolithic parking structure that will block the sun.

    A better solution would be to allow people with stickers for working downtown to park in the controlled spaces in the residential areas just outside of downtown north of 5th and west of B st. The big problem has always been the cascade effect of the high price of parking on UCDavis causing people who live nearby to want their private property rights extended into the street. This just puts more pressure on their neighbors. When the area near us got restricted parking people started parking in front of where we live. I didn’t blame them I blamed the people who wanted the parking restrictions closer in. Back in the day people who didn’t want to mess around with parking restrictions would park north of 5th. Now you can’t do that but if the employees were allowed to do so it would solve much of the problem down to 3rd all along the core. If you did this west of B. It would take care of the problem over to D. This would leave a much smaller area but that area already has parking stuctures.

  24. Robb

    Mr Rifkin – I should state right up front that Davis Bicycles! does not have an “RDA wish list”. In other words, we are not entering this discussion because we have a bunch of other RDA project ideas lined up. Much of our work re: traffic calming, safe routes to school, working with students, street redesign for improved safety, green waste hazards, etc., focuses on areas outside the RDA area. The Pelz-to-“Old Route 40” bike path (or Pole Line-to-same) is not a current priority of DB!. However there are two RDA projects that we are concerned about/interested in:

    1. Fifth street traffic calming/street redesign–while staff seems to list this as a essentially underway or completed vis-a-vis RDA funding, we do have some concerns about whether there are sufficient funds in the SACOG grant to cover the completion of the project. It has been difficult at times for us to get full information about this project and we cannot understand why it has drug on for so long.
    2. We support further study of a multi-modal transit center at the depot that would INCLUDE (but not be limited to), improved secure bike parking, basic bike servicing (perhaps using volunteers like the Bike Collective) and perhaps bike rentals. We feel like there is an opportunity to greatly enhance this important community resource. More study would be required on this one to define the best way to enhance its use but it is clear that significant numbers of people use the train for commuting and pleasure and it is a key means by which people from out of town come to Davis. Again, more study is needed.

    I should also mention that we have had informal conversations with some members of the DDBA about holding a public planning forum (private initiative using our own resources–not the City’s) to discuss what would make getting into and circulating through downtown a more pleasant experience for bicyclists, pedestrians and car drivers. Movement into and through downtown has come up in DDBA focus groups as a concern for people coming into the downtown by all modes of transportation and we are interested in exploring, in a collaborative way, how we might improve the experience for everyone. This has not yet moved ahead but demonstrates our interest in working WITH, rather than being an adversary of, downtown businesses.

    Mr Shor – My point about Central Park is that it is a key destination for both Davisites and visitors. It is on the edge of downtown and thus represents a destination at some distance from both current garages. On Saturdays and Wednesdays it IS a key retail location and is used extensively for other purposes. My point was that we know it is a key destination but we do not know how far people are willing to walk to get to it. We simply do not know. And that is my point about the proposed garage: how far will people walk from it to their destination? We don’t know.

  25. Don Shor

    Farmers’ Market at Central Park is an event. People will walk greater distances to an event than to their day-to-day shopping. Parking needs to be close to brick-and-mortar retail destinations, or people will go elsewhere. That is basic.

    The major stakeholders downtown — the businesses, represented by DDBA — have had parking issues as one of their top priorities, probably the top priority, for years. My question is why a bicycle advocacy group has chosen to question the need for additional parking for automobiles. There shouldn’t be any conflict between auto parking issues and those of bike safety, access, and bike parking. So it is unclear to me why this bike group chose to focus on the parking issue. The collaborative process Robb has described would be useful. Trying to derail a parking project by questioning the basic assumptions undercuts any collaborative efforts.

  26. E Roberts Musser

    I listened carefully to last night’s discussion at the City Council meeting on the garage. IMHO, Mayor Krovoza and Sue Greenwald had this one right in not supporting this project, even tho it was approved for preliminary design sketches on a 3-2 vote. Here are the issues:
    1) This project does not have a demonstrated need. It is far from clear that there is a parking problem bc of lack of parking spaces. Other less costly solutions could solve the parking problems – such as freeing up the already unexplained, existing 300 vacant spaces for employees.
    2) The city is putting the cart before the horse. If we build the parking structure, and charge a fee to park, people will just park on the street to avoid the parking fees, leaving the garage empty. Thus parking problems will still exist, and building the garage will have solved nothing.
    3) The DDBA itself apparently appears to be very lukewarm about this project. Many citizens are very opposed to the project, including neighboring businesses. It just does not and never has had wide community support. THe DDBA apparently has stated, from what I heard at the CC meeting, that parking “is not a pivotal problem downtown”.
    4) At least two City Council members see the opportunity to build electric charging stations inside the garage, but such charging stations can be built downtown w/o building an entire new garage.
    5) We are talking about a 5 story parking garage, with the bottom floor as street retail. Aesthetically this would seem to be completely out of character with the neighborhood it is being placed in – the dead center of downtown. It will replace the existing parking lot next to BoA between E and F streets.
    6) The advisory committee formed to look at transportation issues has not even weighed in on this project or the parking problems and possible solutions.
    7) There is a parking problem/lack of parking spaces at the train station, so the train station location would be a more logical place to build a parking garage to solve an actual problem. Also, such a garage would be on the periphery of Davis, so aesthetically would not be as much of an ugly monstrosity.
    8) The cost of each parking space in this new garage will be approximately whopping $50,000 per space.

    There is no question this project was moved forward on the fast track bc of the RDA crisis. The future of RDAs in CA is still very much up in the air. A court suit is being fast tracked to the state Supreme Court to determine the constitutionality of the legislation doing away w RDAs/ransom payments to state for schools to save RDAs in some more limited fashion. It is a shame that the rest of the CC did not listen to the minority to scrap this project and move on to more worthwhile projects that are far less controversial. In the end, if the garage is built, it would use up 60% of the current RDA funding for a solution in search of a problem.

  27. Robb

    Mr Shor – You write: “Trying to derail a parking project by questioning the basic assumptions undercuts any collaborative efforts.”

    It is fair to question the assumptions in the absence of data that there is a real problem here. Simply repeating over and over that there is a parking problem does not demonstrate that there is one. Indeed, the “problem” maybe that parking on the street is “free”. Proponents of this particular project have not provided evidence of need (which was my original point in writing here). I would argue that true collaboration requires us to work together to define both the problem and potential solutions.

    While I may be opposed to THIS project, it is not the case that I am automatically opposed to any and all projects that include car parking. IF a need is demonstrated and IF we can determine how to price and allocate existing spaces THEN, I believe, we can define current and future new parking space options and the best locations for those. In that case I would not be opposed. But I am starting to repeat myself so I will stop now.

  28. Don Shor

    Janis Lott of Newsbeat is the interim Committee Chair of the DDBA parking committee. Perhaps you could contact her to see why DDBA has been pressing for parking solutions for so many years.

  29. nprice

    This is precisely what a community-wide Participatory Budgeting process could deal with…whether or not to spend significant funds on a parking structure at this location or on something else. It is not a matter of any one special interest group or small fraction of the community outwitting or out-manoevering another, it is a matter of collective deliberation and decision-making.

  30. E Roberts Musser

    [quote]This is precisely what a community-wide Participatory Budgeting process could deal with…whether or not to spend significant funds on a parking structure at this location or on something else. It is not a matter of any one special interest group or small fraction of the community outwitting or out-manoevering another, it is a matter of collective deliberation and decision-making.[/quote]

    Depends on whether a fair sampling of the community comes out to participate, or just special interest groups…

Leave a Reply

X Close

Newsletter Sign-Up

X Close

Monthly Subscriber Sign-Up

Enter the maximum amount you want to pay each month
$ USD
Sign up for