Is there a change being made by the City to the parking downtown?
We are taking steps to improve downtown parking because demand for parking exceeds the supply available during our peak hours (lunch and evenings). As a result, cars circle around downtown trying to find a parking space. This creates traffic congestion, noise, air pollution, aggressive driving across intersections, and an uncomfortable environment for pedestrians. One action, increasing the amount of paid parking, will ensure one or two spaces will be available on each block face.
On what advice are you creating a new plan?
A new plan isn’t being created, but rather the existing 2014 Downtown Parking Management Plan (DPMP) is being implemented. Establishing paid parking in the southeast quadrant (roughly First-Third, D-H Streets) was one of 19 recommendations from the Downtown Park Task Force (DPTF) process, which culminated in the DPMP. Many of the DPTF recommendations have been implemented and others are still in progress. In November 2017, the Davis City Council directed staff to proceed with establishing additional paid parking as an important parking management tool to ensure parking availability for downtown customers.
Planning for the expansion of paid parking has been in progress since February 2018 and is nearly complete. We are working with consultants from Nelson/Nygaard, and Dixon Resources Unlimited to explore best practices from other cities and to create recommendations for next steps for implementation.
Are you implementing paid parking next month?
No. The results from the paid parking implementation planning will come to City Council for final approval sometime this Fall. The City will notify the community well in advance of the anticipated City Council decision date. If Council accepts the final approach to implement paid parking, other steps will need to occur before you will see parking meters on the ground. City staff anticipate Summer 2019 as the earliest meters would be installed.
Will parking enforcement hours change as a result of paid parking?
Most likely. A DPTF recommendation was to shift parking enforcement hours from 8 am– 6pm to 10 am–8 pm, consistent with parking demand. This has not occurred yet and naturally coincides with paid parking implementation.
How long will I be allowed to park?
Existing two-hour time limits will either be extended to three or four hours or eliminated entirely, while re-parking restrictions in the paid parking area will be eliminated because they won’t be needed. With paid parking, customers will have plenty of time to shop, enjoy a meal, and watch a movie without having to move their car, worry about a ticket, or leave downtown entirely
Will all spaces downtown require payment?
No. Both on- and off-street parking in the southeast quadrant are proposed for paid parking, which experiences the greatest demand during the peaks. This represents approximately 400-450 total spaces of over 2,000, or 20%-23% of all public spaces downtown. Paid parking will not be prohibitively expensive, only enough to ensure one or two spaces on a block face remain available on average, or 80-85% occupancy overall. We anticipate fees in the $.50-$1.00 an hour range to start, depending on time of day. Whatever the lowest rate that is needed to achieve the performance objectives is where they will be set.
Where will downtown employees park?
The DPTF discussed this issue extensively throughout their process and they agreed that downtown employee parking needs are important, but secondary to customers’ needs.
With paid parking, some employees will choose to arrive via a different mode of transportation such as bicycle, ridesharing, drop-off, or the bus. For those who need to drive and don’t currently purchase downtown employee X-permits, they will need to purchase a permit and walk farther to their place of employment. Relative to the cost of car ownership, fuel, insurance, maintenance, and repairs, X-permit parking is very affordable at $10/month and well below market rates. X-permit parking is located in the First & F garage, the Boy Scout lot at First & F, and the western & northern downtown peripheries. This supply is not typically fully occupied. However, the City continues to look for opportunities to provide more employee parking locations. For example, an additional 29 space parking lot at the NW corner of Richards Blvd and Olive Drive was recently constructed specifically for X-permit parking. Other efforts are in progress. On the occasions where employees must park in the paid parking zone, they may do so at the standard meter rate, but most will choose not to on a regular basis.
For those who need a guaranteed space, reserved parking is available in the privately owned Fourth & G garage at market rates.
Will paid parking drive customers away from businesses?
This is unlikely. If parking occupancy rates average between 80% – 85% and many parking spaces are freed up by downtown employees migrating to more appropriate parking or other modes (typically, anywhere from 15%-30% of parking is occupied by employees), an increase of downtown customers could result. Customers willing to pay for parking typically spend more than those who don’t and when implemented correctly, economics can improve for downtown property owners and businesses. 75%-80% of downtown parking spaces will remain free of charge for price sensitive customers. Fortunately, paid parking has been piloted in the E Street Plaza parking lot since 2008 and is filled to capacity at peak times. That is, paid parking hasn’t driven business away.
Isn’t paid parking just another tax on downtown visitors?
More accurately, it’s a fee for a scarce commodity; one currently being overused and causing undesirable side effects. Economic principles conclude the City can no longer provide highly valued parking in the southeast quadrant free of charge and expect conditions to improve. Market forces will determine the value of these parking spaces to achieve an 80%-85% occupancy rate, which will ensure downtown vitality.
Why is the City charging for parking if there are concerns and opposition?
It’s natural to resist paying for something that was previously free. However, surveys from the DPTF process indicate widespread agreement that parking is a problem downtown. Paid parking is a necessary parking management tool to ensure customer parking availability is prioritized. While anxieties about paid parking are real, data shows that when implemented properly, customer’s value parking availability more than they oppose paying for it, especially if they can stay longer. Since the DPTF concluded their work in 2014, the Davis Downtown Business Association and Chamber of Commerce have supported establishing downtown paid parking in some form.
How will the paid parking revenue be used?
Some communities have taken the wrong approach with paid parking, applying it in struggling downtowns to generate revenue for citywide funding shortfalls. Fortunately, Davis’ purpose is strictly for parking management.
While paid parking will obviously generate revenue, much of that will be needed for additional operations, maintenance, and parking enforcement to implement paid parking itself. As currently done with the E Street Plaza, any additional revenue will be placed in a separate fund and used to improve the downtown customer experience, parking, and access.
Why doesn’t the City just construct more parking?
Most people perceive the downtown parking problem as not being able to park on the street close to their destination. However, the City cannot meaningfully increase the on-street parking supply and a new parking garage is prohibitively expensive to construct, with an estimate of approximately $50,000 per space, and difficult to justify given the existing garage at Fourth & G Street is underutilized. Paid parking is a cost-effective tool to most effectively use the existing parking supply.
If the City can’t build more parking, what are you doing to make parking easier?
This Fall, a new interconnected electronic parking guidance system will be installed for all City-owned parking lots and the F Street garage. This will consist of electronic LED display signs visible to drivers from the street that indicate how many spaces are available at each lot. There will also be a monument sign at the Richards Blvd & First Street intersection indicating off-street parking availability.
What about people with mobility challenges who have disabled placards?
Paid parking will require the city designate some on-street spaces for disabled parking. However, regulations for visitors with mobility challenges and who have placards will not change.
How can I get more information?
A website for the Downtown Paid Parking/Parking Management Plan can be found at: https://cityofdavis.org
Davis Downtown business association plans to hold a brown bag discussion of the topic in September which will be widely publicized and open to all.
How can I voice my comments?
You can send comments to:
Senior Transportation Planner
Public Works Department
City of Davis
If you are a downtown business, you can also send your comments to the Davis Downtown Business Association at firstname.lastname@example.org