Analysis: Majority of Council Candidates Opposed to Building Downtown Parking Structures

There is an overlap with several different schools of thought which converge to create opposition to building a downtown parking structure – environmental concerns and transportation models merge with fiscal concerns, which merge with land use and growth concerns.  The result is seven of the nine candidates for council came out against a downtown parking structure when asked by the Sierra Club.

The two exceptions – Gloria Partida and Mary Jo Bryan.

Gloria Partida said, “I support the construction of a parking structure at the Amtrak lot paid for by transportation funds and grants. I also think that regular bikes should be provided at parking lots for sharing with patrons to downtown.”

Mary Jo Bryan added, “I would support additional peripheral multi-story parking structures, convenient to downtown, carefully designed for aesthetic, safety, accessibility and convenience.   I would provide incentives for parking in the parking structures, i.e. free with receipt validation, long-term parking and employee parking. The Chamber could work with local restaurants to provide additional incentives.”

But the opposition dominated the conversation.

Mark West argued, “Stand alone parking structures are a poor use of resources. What we should focus on in the core is redevelopment of the private and public surface lots into mixed-use projects with retail and other commercial on the bottom, residential above, and parking hidden behind and below.”

Ezra Beeman called this “only a near-term solution.”  He also noted that “the current parking garages are almost never full.”

Instead, he argued, “Improving our utilization of existing assets should be prioritized.”

He added, “I want to see the data on congestion periods, and drivers of this congestion.”

The city earlier this year provided the data that showed a high level of congestion during peak hours, but available spaces at other times.

Mr. Beeman did not foreclose the possibility of a parking structure, arguing, “The best site appears to be on Hickory Lane with a railroad undercrossing into the downtown. This is in the general plan, yet the city has neglected to establish a funding program to make this happen. This site can displace rail commuter parking from inside the triangle, freeing up more day parking in the core.”

Dan Carson, from a fiscal standpoint, argued, “The state’s repeal of redevelopment funding mechanisms will make it much more difficult for the city to finance and build an expensive new downtown parking structure to increase parking supply.”

Until that problem can be overcome, he supports the following: phone apps, bike-friendly events, a new downtown plan with rental and owner-occupied housing, as well as other sites for parking.

Linda Deos argued, “I don’t see building new automobile structures to be in our best interest financially. This is because car ownership is steadily decreasing year by year and thus the alleged need to further subsidize automobiles lessens.”

She said she is not “convinced of such a need.”

Eric Gudz, from a transportation standpoint, believes “we do not have a parking supply problem in Davis; we have a parking management problem. I would heavily advocate for additional parking management and transportation demand management solutions to be thoroughly considered before we hit our city’s struggling budget with a  70-80 million dollar parking structure (which might even be obsolete in 15 years with automated vehicles).”

Larry Guenther instead argued for revamping the X-permit system, working with downtown banks to reduce branch size and partner with the city, paid parking and working to “stop using the automobile as the central concern of our land-use planning.”

Luis Rios said, “I would not support a new car parking structure in the downtown area because the future of transportation methods may be changing and evolving. With limited space, the City needs to explore zipcar stations and bike-sharing racks in the area. Other options should be explored in lieu of a massive parking structure.”

The council last November passed a paid parking plan in which the city staff presented occupancy rate surveys.

Staff reported, “Generally speaking, the ideal parking occupancy rate is in the vicinity of 85%. At this usage, the parking supply is being efficiently used while spaces remain available for new arrivals, preventing vehicles ‘circling’ downtown blocks in search of a parking space.”

The problem was that the downtown experiences parking peaks during the lunch and evening time frames.

Staff writes, “Downtown experiences parking ‘peaks’ during the lunch and evening timeframes. During these peaks, downtown parking closely reaches capacity resulting in vehicles circling around the block to find spaces, resulting in added congestion.”

This article contains a number of graphics that show the peak hour parking shortages:

Council Asked to Implement Paid Parking Plan

—David M. Greenwald reporting

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About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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  1. Todd Edelman

    Eric Gudz is the only one who mentions transportation demand management (TDM) specifically, though Luis Rios mentions some pieces of the solution (the unfortunate-it’s-a- monopoly) carshare operator) and bike share – though his mention of racks tells me that he’s not up-to-date on approved City Council legislation, which allows dockless bikes in town. Dan Carson mentions phone apps. I am not sure what Gloria Partida means by “regular bikes”… maybe cheap bike share bikes? (Car + bike intermodality is not standard practice except in places where parking is possible and cycling is not, like UC Davis).

    Gudz says

    we do not have a parking supply problem in Davis; we have a parking management problem.

    But we also have a parking location problem. This presents in several different ways:

    * Free parking – at least long enough for their uses at that time – is widely varied to distance to e.g. Second St. Plaza – though the new parking pricing takes care of some of that.

    * While the 4th St. parking structure is sort-of-peripheral – and it would be better if it was on an arterial – and can  serve Davis north of the track, it’s mirror – on the other side of tracks, the south side, does not exist.

    * The 1st St parking structure draws people from all directions across Downtown and through the tunnel.

    * The Davis Depot parking lot does the same, and fills up early.

    * Aside from walking, there’s no convenient way to get from the more peripheral parking like 4th and even 1st to locations on the other side of Downtown.

    There are solutions for all of these using available technology and – if handled with care and urgency – that can fit into existing infrastructure, including ones under way. Experts can sort the details, but in a town where parking is such an important issue, all the City Council candidates should be able to provide some some somewhat specific suggestions for solving all of them.

    1. Mark West

      “There are solutions…”

      The community had a task force that after a year of studying the downtown parking issue presented a long list of consensus recommendations for the City. Maybe we should fully implement those recommendations and benchmark the results before expecting candidates to come up with new solutions.

      1. Howard P

        Going a step farther… unless a candidate is a SME (and I see none who are), CC members should not be “finding solutions”… that is for professional staff/consultants… CC members should identify problems/concerns, and direct staff to pursue, with parameters such as goals/policies etc.

        Not sure if any of the current field are even capable of that…

        1. David Greenwald

          I don’t agree on this. Council has a role in directing staff to implement their vision for downtown. Obviously councilmembers are not professionals in this area, but that doesn’t negate preferences.

        2. Howard P

          You do agree David… read my lips…

          CC members should identify problems/concerns, and direct staff to pursue, with parameters such as goals/policies etc.

          Get that second cup of coffee, and/or consider reading glasses…

          Example: if the goal is to affix a counter top to a counter, do you want someone who insists that screws be used and put in place by use of hammers? Or might srewdrivers be more appropriate? Or nails? Or a variety of adhesives?

        3. Todd Edelman

          Howard P: I said

          in a town where parking is such an important issue, all the City Council candidates should be able to provide some some somewhat specific suggestions

          It’s of course also good that if they have some specific ideas they are very open to feedback to the point of dismissal.

          It’s just an ideal, okay? They more they know, they more they know what to ask. Known unknowns, unknown unknowns, and all that. It can make things easier for staff, too.

        4. Tia Will

          CC members should not be “finding solutions”… that is for professional staff/consultants”
          I think we should be willing to listen to, and consider ideas regardless of their source of origin. Many of course 
          will be rejected as impractical or fiscally unfeasible. That does not mean they should not be considered because one doesn’t have the right credentials behind one’s name.

      1. Ken A

        I don’t want to speak for Jeff, but in the summer (and during winter and spring breaks) I can almost always drive downtown and park super close to Peete’s to grab a cup of coffee.  Most of the year I’ll just keep driving if I don’t see a space and make coffee at my office.

        1. Howard P

          You affirm a key point… most problems are not 24/7/365(6)… many variables… UCD students, and UCD employees are two of those variables, particularly given the academic calendar…

          If I need to drive and/or park downtown, I consider time of day, day of week, weather, and season, before scheduling my visit…

          If someone believes in a “magic wand”, they should stick to Disney movie classics or fairy tales…

          I find it equally distressing that folk (running for elective office) opine that there is only one solution (or fixed set of solutions) to a problem/issue, or opine that other solutions need be rejected (except in limited cases) ‘out of hand’.  Inclinations are fine… hard lines, not so much…

        2. Howard P

          I question your 50% number, David… I agree there is a significant difference (and perhaps you meant “travel in…”, rather than ‘live in’)… but 50%???

          I have relatives in Missouri… the “Show Me” state…

          But, I’m a “newbie”… only been in town for ~ 45 years…

        3. David Greenwald

          You’re hitting a fine tooth comb for a statement that wasn’t meant to be so fine, but figure that the during the day population during the year is probably 90,000 to 100,000 people with 30,000+ students and staff, a good percentage of whom live here.

        4. Jeff M

          No I cannot quantify that.  It is empirical.  But pretty clear and easy empirical having lived here for over 40 years and having my office downtown and noting the ebb and flow of parking capacity downtown.

          Basically all traffic and parking hell breaks loose when school is in session, and heaven returns when the employees and students leave for the summer.

          In my neighborhood the sounds of cars racing down the street largely go away in the summer… and I am much more able to race down the street myself due to the reduced numbers of unskilled young drivers otherwise infesting the roads.

        5. Todd Edelman


          50% (or whatever…)

          Is there twice as much congestion and is there twice as much parking available?

          I… would definitely be interested in research and expert-isms on how to best deal with this dynamic parking (and traffic) situation. All I really know is that Unitrans cuts service by up to half (?) on most routes, and that there’s going to be more bicycle parking.

          But properly-priced public space for parking ponyless problematic conveyances is something else. Street parking should probably still have that Shouparian 85% availability: It should be somewhat easier to drive Downtown – though even signals could be seasonally-adjusted or are they already? – but it shouldn’t be cheaper to park. Perhaps it can be easier to park, which is of course highly-subjective!

          Seems like less congestion etc. should make it easier and more pleasant to walk or ride a bike? It makes sense that Unitrans would reduce overall capacity but it’s a huge problem that buses may come half as often. The ideal solution would be to replace half of the human-driven buses with autonomous vehicles, in order to significantly reduce labor costs.

      2. Jeff M

        I think you guys are over-thinking this… getting caught up in a scientific definition of the extended term.  The word comes from Greek word meaning “experience” and is otherwise defined as sensory experience.

        I did not write that it was empirical evidence, only that my opinion was empirical.  It was/is based on observation and sensory experience.  I have not done the quantitative calculations that would survive a scientific peer review.


  2. Howard P

    This thread has helped me understand why I keep getting the annoying pop-up as to reading the “terms of use”, needing to say “yes, have read”, then having the button “I never want to see this again” (works, not)…

    That said, although I can well be one of the last to ‘cast stones’, personal epithets have no place here, nor in public discourse…

    The egregious posts appear to have been edited/deleted…

    Will try to behave, but feel free to ‘report this comment’ or other comments I may make…


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