Commentary: Council’s Decision to Delay Decision on Parking – the Good and the Bad

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How many times have we seen council, in their desire to make a decision on a controversial item, go late into the evening passing midnight, one, and on a very few occasions, even three?  I have seen those decisions made at such an hour – often the decisions are poor ones that need to be revisited.  Given that it was 11 by the time the council even got done with public comment, waiting a few weeks made a lot of sense.

By continuing the meeting, they don’t make the same mistake that often gets made – they have to listen to two hours of public comment and then come back two weeks later and listen to two more and have to go through the whole thing again.

Public opinion is running heavily against this proposal.  By one estimate, about 70 percent of the people who spoke on Tuesday were against paid parking.  Breaking it out though – there were businesses and business owners concerned that paid parking would keep their customers away and there was a contingent from Davis Community Church concerned about the impacts of pushing free parking out there and how it would impact their congregation’s access to parking.

What I find most interesting is the disconnect between the science and people’s fear of what will happen if paid parking is opposed.  If you listen to the Chamber or business owners, they will take about a few factors here – they fear that adding paid parking will drive customers to go somewhere else, they argue that paid parking goes against the small town spirit of the downtown, and they hear from their customers strong opposition.

The science paints a very different picture, as I will explain shortly.  But perhaps one reason I have never had a problem with paid parking downtown was that’s what I grew up with in San Luis Obispo.  You had choices – you could put your coins into a parking meter and access street-level parking, you could get 90 minutes free and use a parking garage, or you could park outside of the metered area and walk.

While I do not discount people’s concerns, I think for a good number of people they are fearing change rather than analyzing how that change is likely to work.

The science here is overwhelming and the explanation from the consultants was really good.

The first problem is that during peak hours there simply is not sufficient parking in the Davis Downtown – at least not in the Southeast Quadrant where this change is proposed.  The numbers do not lie.  The average during peak hours is about 91 percent full – whereas you want it to be in the 60 to 80 range.

Now what I don’t understand is why business owners seem okay with that status quo.  Because that is hurting their business.

The second point is that if the city does this correctly, the fees are not about generating revenue, they are about regulating that traffic flow.  The consultants make the point that if your parking availability is too high, you lower the fee and if it’s too low, you raise the fee – both done slowly and in small increments until you find the sweet spot.

The contrast between the science laying out how this stuff can work and people operating out of fear and uncertainty was striking.  While I respect the views of the businesses, they are still anticipating the impact of change – whereas the reason you hire consultants is they have the analytical and broad-based experience to be able to apply principles and best-practices developed in other locations and bring them here.

With that being said, there might be avenues for some compromise.

One of the possible avenues for compromise is looking into when to implement the paid parking.  Right now they are talking about 10 to 10 – every day.  While I agree with the consultants that this is not about generating revenue, in essence the time considerations factor revenue into the equation.

While the estimates are that this would generate slightly positive revenue over the course of a ten-year period, money that they say would go into a specific fund rather than the general fund, if you look at their proposed impact of limiting the time considerations, you see that each limitation is expected to limit the small amount of revenue this would generate.

What they have recommended is fifty cents per hour off-peak and one dollar an hour at peak.  But another possibility would be to change that calculation so you charge more during peak hours and nothing during off-peak hours.

That would help to manage the parking flow when spaces are at a premium – encouraging people to utilize less heavily accessed parking areas, but leave the system as it is now during off-peak hours.

We already have a sense for how this would work anyway.  We know that the E Street parking lot, even though it is one of the few paid parking lots, mirrors the overall trend in parking – people would rather pay a small amount for close-in access than save a few dollars.

But there is no reason why you couldn’t play with that balance a little bit to make parking in the SE quadrant free except during peak hours.

The other idea that I think downtown businesses and the Chamber should explore is the idea I presented on Sunday – which is to deal with what appears to be the main culprit here – employee parking.  The consultants estimate that as much as one-quarter of the parking is taken up with employees.  Imagine this – if your average peak hour is at 91 percent capacity in the SE and you get the employees out of parking there, you’ve reduced the parking capacity to the 60 to 80 percent range without creating any paid parking.

The question is: can employers enforce that?  I believe they can.  If the Chamber really believes that this move is bad for business, they should work with businesses to fix the employee parking issue and they could ask the city for a six-month period to see if they can achieve this.

Should we add another parking supply area?  I’m ambivalent on that.  On the one hand, if we are looking to expand and enhance the downtown, we are going to need to do that.  I think some of the densification proposals coming out of the DPAC (Downtown Plan Advisory Committee) discussions will have to have internal parking options built in.

As things stand now, we don’t need it.  We can effectively manage our parking with paid parking.  The problem is not lack of supply, it’s about poor distribution.

With that said, I think the council, looking at the consultant reports and data from other communities, would be best served by biting this bullet.  Just as we saw with E Street parking, people may have a transition period, but they will adjust to the new world and this will not mark the end of the Davis downtown.

—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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64 thoughts on “Commentary: Council’s Decision to Delay Decision on Parking – the Good and the Bad”

  1. Ron Glick

    Well David, at least you got a good picture this time.

    A couple of points here on the “science” although I think economics is a better term.

    First, for the last five years we have repeatedly heard that we have been moving towards implementing the recommendations of the Parking Task Force but now the members of the Task Force who have changed their minds are derided as not expert enough on the science. Yet these are people who have a long history of running successful businesses in a competitive environment. This is an argument that says when I agree with someone they are a noble public servant but when I don’t they are a fool. At least I’ll admit that pretty much sums up how I feel about the proponents.

    Second, if its about the science (actually economics) why did the consultants and staff never explain the rational for arbitrarily changing the finding of the Task Force from 10-8 Monday through Saturday to 10-10 seven days a week? I actually think this is a big deal that goes beyond my opposition and I would think you would want to hold staff accountable for this kind of deception. If staff can get away with changing this finding what is to keep them from doing the same in other situations where the finding is in disagreement with the staff?

    Third, what do the economics say about giving people permits to park farther out and leaving the unpaid parking closer in for us customers? The meters are expensive, require lots of overhead and the technology often fails as recent articles in the Sacbee have described. Behavioral economics tells us that if you want compliance you make it easy for people to do what you want them to do. To date we have implemented a system that provides disincentives for employees to do the right thing but one that leads you right to where we are. What if we offered employees free permits to park in the Richards lot or some select other locations on a voluntary basis? My guess is you could improve compliance not perfectly but perhaps enough to make a difference.

    Fourth what do the economics say about the validation system that is being proposed and we were promised by the CC that is now revenue neutral to the city? How can a business running on small margins afford to pick up the tab for customer parking? It simply can’t. So the city promises something to alleviate the concerns of the citizens but then designs it so its doomed to failure. Should we thank the CC, the staff or the consultants for coming up with such a boondoggle that over promises and under delivers?

    As for the expertise of the consultants did we ever hear their credentials? How do we know they aren’t simply sales people? A simple test, do they ever propose not putting in parking meters? Can we have some examples please?

    Lastly, about greenhouse gasses. I found it amusing that one public commenter talked about paying to park in San Francisco when she goes there and then invoked carbon emissions from those circling to find a spot in Davis. One round trip to San Francisco is around 150 miles. I live 3.5 miles from downtown. So her one trip to San Francisco is equal to around 20 trips to downtown Davis for me. That isn’t to say that I couldn’t do better at reducing my own carbon footprint but as I have stated publicly, give me a bus line that takes me to downtown without waiting around for a transfer and I will use it.

    1. Alan Miller

      give me a bus line that takes me to downtown without waiting around for a transfer and I will use it.

      Your own personal bus line?  Done.

      It’s called Lyft.

      That’s a nice dream, but the density of Davis relative to the demand for trips downtown will never warrant the expense of this dream.  And I’m a huge public transit advocate and professional.

      1. Ron Glick

        Lyft would actually increase my Carbon footprint since the car has to come from wherever it is to where I am. Driving myself would have a smaller Carbon footprint since my car is already where I am.

        As for getting people downtown by bus, it may be too big a lift, but maybe you could lend some of your expertise to a problem that I believe exists and that I think is solvable.

        People living on the west side of town can’t easily take a bus to downtown without first going to a hub at UCD and changing busses. On the east side the busses go through downtown before getting to the University so this is a problem mostly limited to west side residents. There might be some exceptions but I am unaware of them. One solution I have thought of would be to extend the runs from the UCD hubs to the train station and make the train station the end of the run. This would solve a huge last mile problem by literally adding a last mile to the appropriate runs. It would also help move people to the train station more efficiently so you solve two problems at once with my solution.

        Now I realize there would be timing and logistical problems as well as labor issues, and, maybe it would be impossible or as you suggest it wouldn’t pencil out but I’d be interested to know the answer on the feasibility of extending the runs since I think that doesn’t require purchasing a new bus or creating whole new runs.

        1. Alan Miller

          Lyft would actually increase my Carbon footprint since the car has to come from wherever it is to where I am.

          > Not necessarily.  If they expand the “pool” services, they are very efficient at picking up multiple passengers.  I use them in the Bay Area when I have some extra time and want to save a few $$$ — I’m amazed at how well the algorithms work in picking people up and dropping along the way.  When I’m pushed for time I’ll use the regular exclusive service.

          People living on the west side of town can’t easily take a bus to downtown without first going to a hub at UCD and changing busses.

          Same from anywhere really, unless you’re on the A line that hits the station.  Problem is, it would take a whole nuther fleet of buses to go from everywhere in town to the station hub, and currently the train aren’t on slotted schedules, so they arrive at all different times relative to the clock-face, making timing with a bus service very difficult.

          One solution I have thought of would be to extend the runs from the UCD hubs to the train station and make the train station the end of the run. This would solve a huge last mile problem by literally adding a last mile to the appropriate runs. It would also help move people to the train station more efficiently so you solve two problems at once with my solution.

          The buses do tend to come and leave the MU hub around the same time with each bus, on purpose.  However, a double-hub system less than a mile apart is very tricky.  I’d suggest a best solution is run a bus out of the MU to Amtrak via 1st street, but buses on campus are a hazard with the bicycle density.  As well, you wouldn’t get back to the MU before the next pulse of busses left, so you’d need yet another bus to come in to meet the buses going out.   Running back out to 5th, you might as well transfer to the “A” anyway — but you can’t as you get to another problem, there are two hubs on campus, 1/4 mile apart, and the A uses the other hub.  Also, Unitrans works for some city people, but it’s largely a student-driven service.  As such, there is diminished service when school is not in session.  This is very difficult for city users, and people on campus trying to get downtown, especially as a bicycle or walking really is as close for many as walking to the hubs, and campus is very spread out.  In short, yeah, it would take more buses and the logistics and costs are likely prohibitive.  But that’s what consultants are for, right?  To do studies!!!

        2. Ron Glick

          Thanks Alan that is helpful. I would point out that although many of the other busses don’t get to the  train station I think most of the ones from the east and south parts of the city get much closer to downtown than the ones from the west. Is that correct?

    2. Craig Ross

      “As for the expertise of the consultants did we ever hear their credentials? How do we know they aren’t simply sales people? A simple test, do they ever propose not putting in parking meters? Can we have some examples please?”

      You ask an interesting question – but it may be the wrong question.  Why?  Because in part, you bring in the consultant because you have a problem.  So the only real question may be where and how much not whether to do it.

  2. Don Shor

    Now what I don’t understand is why business owners seem okay with that status quo.

    They aren’t. They agreed to paid parking as part of a package including expanded supply. The supply wasn’t expanded.

    The question is: can employers enforce that?  I believe they can.

    Certainly that is part of a broad approach to resolving the parking issue, but putting the entire burden for this on employees and employers without increasing the supply is not what the task force recommended.

    Should we add another parking supply area?  I’m ambivalent on that…. 

    As things stand now, we don’t need it.

    But that is what the task force recommended. The business owners are being consistent.

    I think the council looking at the consultant reports and data from other communities would be best served by biting this bullet.

    When there is substantial opposition by those who would be directly affected by it, I think your suggestion is wrong.

    But perhaps one reason I have never had a problem with paid parking downtown was that’s what I grew up with in San Luis Obispo.

    I grew up in one of those places Dobie Fleeman mentioned, La Jolla, which did not have parking meters. His question was apt: why was there no discussion or consideration of the many cities, some with higher density, that have not adopted paid parking meters? The consultants seem to have used data to come to a predetermined conclusion.

    1. Alan Miller

      DS you seem to advocate for more supply, yet the garages are underutilized and increased supply is massively expensive per space.  Considering the issue is the laziness of the American public wanting to park right in front of the business they are going to and otherwise circling, how would walking blocks to a parking structure change this behavior?

      And most parking structures are ugly and spooky.

      1. Don Shor

        DS you seem to advocate for more supply,

        I am saying that the task force listed increased supply as one component, and that the recommendations were considered to be a package deal.

        Considering the issue is the laziness of the American public

        That’s the issue? Would have saved a lot of trouble to just skip ahead past all the deliberations and go straight into the moralizing.

        1. Alan Miller

          Would have saved a lot of trouble to just skip ahead past all the deliberations and go straight into the moralizing.

          Could I wag my finger instead of moralizing?

          Seriously, if people were willing, and planned into their day, walking three blocks to their destination, or using the parking structure, or biking . . . would any of this be an issue?

           

  3. Alan Miller

    I think for a good number of people they are fearing change .  . . .

    WHOOP!  WHOOP!  WHOOP!   Fear of change argument alert.  Fear of change argument alert.

    Please note that whenever developers want to build something, or DG wants something, they attempt to shame Davis citizens with the ‘fear of change’ argument.  It’s an empty shell, and means nothing.  I don’t know if y’all have noticed, but sometimes change is great, and often it totally sucks.

    1. Craig Ross

      Yeah.  The key is how do you know when to make a change.  The first question is whether the system is working.  The second is to look at what other people have done.  The third is to have consultants examine your situation and make a recommendation.

      Once you’ve done all that, the question is what is holding you back?  What’s wrong with saying – fear?  If you look at the arguments, it’s clearly fear that the change will as you so eloquently put it, “totally sucks.”

      But it’s not like this is a random, unstudied, roll of the dice.

      1. Alan Miller

        I don’t completely disagree, I just hate the argument.  It’s like the worn-out comparison of every politician one doesn’t like to Hitler.

  4. Alan Miller

    The question is: can employers enforce that?  I believe they can.

    “They CAN”, and No ‘they’ won’t, DG.  I was on the parking committee for a couple of years around 2003-2004.  They EXACT SAME issue was churning in the washing machine, and has been for fifteen years, round and round and round and round.

    The collective nothing of the united will of downtown business owners yields nothing.  The chamber cannot force them, the employers think theirs doesn’t matter, many will not buy employees passes, employees don’t want to pay up front nor walk a few blocks, employers can’t force employees . . . and it all adds up to a big giant goose egg.

    If Davis were a sparkly unicorn, yes.  But in reality, nothing has changed nor can change as far as employers and the employee permits.  I know it sounds like it should work, but we all thought that back in 2003, and here we are in 2019.

    Zero.

    1. Ron Glick

      Has anyone ever tried offering permits to workers for free if they agree to use them to park in certain places outside the core like in the new Richards lot.

      The staff proposal is all stick. It seeks to raise the price to control supply and demand in order to deter people of lower economic means from parking in the core. But couldn’t the same result happen with more carrot if the city gave permits to employees of downtown businesses to park in the new Richards lot or other designated places. Wouldn’t some workers volunteer? Isn’t that worth a try?

      1. larryguenther

        According to Davis PD, we sell between 1,000-1,200 X permits per year.  They are $10/month, or $120/year.  According to city staff, the income is only to offset the cost of staff time required to implement the program.  This means the X-permit system generates between $100,000-$144,00 per year, which simply pays for the implementation of the program.  This is approximately 0.26% of the General Fund.

        Question: is an annual cost to the city of $144,000 worth solving the downtown parking problem?

        One idea behind charging for employees to park, is to incentivize downtown employees to use alternate modes of transportation.  But for that to work, there need to be viable alternate forms of transportation.  Many downtown employees commute from outside of Davis and using public transit to commute from out of Davis is not practical.  But even for those who live within Davis, public transit is not a very viable way to get to work reliably.  A few who live close enough walk or bike, but that’s not many.

        One of my take-away messages from this discussion, is that, in spite of the X-permit, downtown employees are still a significant burden on downtown parking.  So perhaps fixing that is the first priority?

  5. Todd Edelman

    The best way to improve access to Downtown is by building multi-story affordable housing within and within walking and cycling distance of Downtown, and by making it generally-impossible to park fare-free or without a permit anywhere in town. This will significantly reduce parking demand on its own.

    Even during our current conditions of density, etc. I’d like to see a study to determine the feasibility of parking fare-free but reserved in existing lots – small parts of all of them all over town – but with key locations near freeway egress points – in combination with autonomous, electric-powered, point-to-point shuttles on fixed routes, featuring synchronization with Capitol Corridor – some shuttles would terminate at Davis Depot – and 24/7/365 service to one or two other points Downtown.

    Once the equipment is purchased – mostly the shuttles and solar panel roofs at the parking lot network – running costs would be extremely low. Fixed routes doesn’t require a high level of autonomy. Neighborhood stores would benefit from the commuters and others who land on their lots twice a day, and could also contribute to reducing parking demand Downtown (instead of charging for parking, which they know they should do, even it cannot be easily forced on them.) Users get totally predictable journey times, especially if they opt for the bike instead of the car to the closest lot. Point-to-point buses on the regional level that use any dedicated lane on I-80 would be integrated into this system.

    There would still be paid parking Downtown — reservable and thus super stress-free, but it would rightly be the most expensive way to access Downtown.

    In sum, accessing Downtown would be like a walk in the park.

    I am only asking for a study!

    1. Don Shor

      The best way to improve access to Downtown is by building multi-story affordable housing within and within walking and cycling distance of Downtown, and by making it generally-impossible to park fare-free or without a permit anywhere in town.

      I don’t know if you know this, but there is a serious internal inconsistency in this sentence.

      1. Bill Marshall

        but there is a serious internal inconsistency in this sentence.

        As there is to the most strident views of the proposal… hypocrisy/leaving out inconvenient facts/history, is running rampant.  Both sides…

        Your point?

    2. Bill Marshall

      Todd… any recommendations as to who does the study (generic or specific)?  Who pays for the study, or will it be pro bono?

      “Study” is oft code for table/ignore…

    3. Alan Miller

      making it generally-impossible to park fare-free or without a permit anywhere in town.

      If this were voted on in a local election, what are the chances of it passing?  [Also does ‘anywhere’ include private property (driveways, garages)?]  My guess is it would go down in flames about 85-15. Why bring up ideas that are politically impossible?

      1. Todd Edelman

        * “anywhere” in the public ROW.

        * Permits simply an expansion of what’s used now, to e.g. driving in and parking for free on the street near a bus line that leads to campus.

        * Again, a big part of this is to significantly reduce the stress of parking once one has made the decision to pay for it.  When planning a $100-150 dinner with friends or a $40 family movie night Downtown, spending at least $2 to 3 extra for a guaranteed spot with its precise location known seems pretty sweet. We REALLY need to take advantage of the latest tech to help us all access Downtown. This needs to include this “smart parking”, autonomous shuttles and Type 3 e-bike share (assistance to 28 mph, with GPS-enabled dynamic speed-assistance reduction in areas where 28 is too fast.)

        * There’s already an going study about Depot Access; that it’s limited to that and excludes the rest of Downtown is not clear to me at this time.

  6. Richard McCann

    Wow, Alan has a whole bunch of serious and good responses! And we should listen to him here. I agree with his points, and will add only a few more.

    Our local business owners actually have no experience to draw on to claim that paid parking will reduce their business. That means that they really have no expertise to contribute to the discussion. We are left with two other sources–the experiences of other communities that have paid parking (and I have not heard anyone talk about detrimental impact elsewhere), and our experience with the E Street lot–it seems to always be full.  I believe they badly underestimate the lure of convenience even the face of a small charge. This is also why employees are unlikely to park away from their jobs unless they have to pay. Economic studies show over and over and over again that the only truly effective means of significant behavior change is through charging a price. Sorry that has to be true.

    And we do NOT need any more parking supply. Perhaps the business community thought that it was needed at some point in the past, but that’s simply not the case, and adding supply is VERY expensive. The cost will either blow a hole in the city budget with no real return or drive up rents to businesses, making them even less viable.

    What will happen is that parking meters will increase space turnover, which will increase the number of cars and customers coming downtown.

    1. Alan Miller

      I actually didn’t take a stance on paid parking . . . I am ambivalent about it.  I believe it would be great during lunch and on Friday evenings to serve that stated purpose to decrease the ‘circling effect’ that increases congestion exponentially when parking space availability nears zero.  Is that worth instituting paid parking?  That’s a tough question.

      I would favor a parking structure paid for developers of tallish mixed-use developments in the central downtown for storage of resident cars.  Other than that, the observed underutilization by those unwilling to walk isn’t going to change with an added structure.

    2. Don Shor

      We are left with two other sources–the experiences of other communities that have paid parking

      Or comparisons of communities that do and those that don’t. We keep getting told that the “science” supports paid parking. Not wishing to question whether urban planning or economics are sciences, but what we really keep hearing are case histories. No double-blind studies or any of the things you’d get with the kind of science I’m used to.
      So if you are analyzing data from case histories, the questions that arise have to do with the parameters that affect the outcomes. How do those communities compare to Davis, how do they differ, and what makes the difference?

      And we do NOT need any more parking supply. Perhaps the business community thought that it was needed at some point in the past, but that’s simply not the case,

      Glad we cleared that up. I guess the unanimous vote of the parking task force was pointless, then. Remind me why we appoint these committees of stakeholders to hash these things out, when we could just rely on consultants?

      1. Mark West

        “I guess the unanimous vote of the parking task force was pointless, then. Remind me why we appoint these committees of stakeholders to hash these things out, when we could just rely on consultants?”

        I’m not a party to the current planning effort downtown, but I have attended multiple presentations where those involved have suggested (stated outright!) that new parking supply was not necessary or even desirable. Those same presentations however did emphasize the need/desirability of paid parking to appropriately manage the existing inventory.

         

      2. Don Shor

        Maybe I’ll throw in some science here.

        Do parking fees affect retail sales? Evidence from Starbucks

        Parking meters are a common feature of urban areas, yet their economic impacts are not well understood. Local governments use meters to raise revenue and to ration scarce parking spaces. On-street parking, however, is seldom priced at the market rate. When inefficiently priced, parking meters may negatively affect the businesses and individuals they are intended to serve. This paper uses a quasi-experimental research design and an observational data set to assess metered parking policy. Sharp twice-daily changes in parking meter enforcement provide a comparison of customer traffic to a popular retail area in free and metered parking environments. Regression discontinuity results suggest that when there is an excess supply of parking (i.e., many spaces are vacant), a small 50 cent per-hour parking fee deters commerce. At two separate Starbucks establishments, the meter fee reduced customer traffic by almost 30%. However, when there is excess demand for parking (i.e., all spaces are constantly occupied), there is no evidence that meters help to increase customer traffic. These results suggest that sub-optimal meter pricing can impose substantial costs on nearby businesses.

        https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S2212012214000495

        1. Mark West

          “Regression discontinuity results suggest that when there is an excess supply of parking (i.e., many spaces are vacant), a small 50 cent per-hour parking fee deters commerce.”

          Yes, which is why I think the proposed $0.50/hr ‘floor’ cost is likely inappropriate.

          “These results suggest that sub-optimal meter pricing can impose substantial costs on nearby businesses.”

          Poor implementation will likely lead to poor results. Is that a surprise to anyone?

           

          I will restate…I strongly support paid parking downtown. That said, I have great reservations about how City Staff are currently proposing to implementing paid parking downtown.

           

          1. Don Shor

            Poor implementation will likely lead to poor results. Is that a surprise to anyone?
            I will restate…I strongly support paid parking downtown. That said, I have great reservations about how City Staff are currently proposing to implementing paid parking downtown.

            It suggests to me that we need more evidence about the impact of metered parking on the sales at local businesses before we proceed with this plan. I’ve heard pretty glib assertions about the benefits. The opposition to this proposal is coming from those who would likely bear the costs. If I were facing this proposal, I’d want to see the evidence.

        2. Mark West

          “It suggests to me that we need more evidence about the impact of metered parking on the sales at local businesses before we proceed with this plan.”

          For some, the evidence will never be good enough to proceed.

           

  7. Ron Glick

    “and I have not heard anyone talk about detrimental impact elsewhere”

     

    Look no farther than Woodland where they had to take them out to support the downtown.

  8. Ron Glick

    In emails I received from both Will Arnold and Dan Carson they both explain that staff did disclose in the staff report that they wanted authority to raise rates as high as $2 without going back to the CC. Both readily admit that they overlooked this point in their communications with me, one verbally because of time constraints and the other in writing because of space constraints. It seems that neither  the Vanguard nor the Enterprise thought this point important enough to include in their coverage until I raised it as a big deal.

    So while they did disclose it in the report this was the first time that I have heard about a $2/hour cap. For over a year I have heard of rates of 25 or 50 cents or even a dollar. I have never believed these numbers and have repeatedly asked where is the top? Nobody up until now has given me an answer to that question. Finally as the deal is about to go down we see them come in asking for a $2/hour cap. So they did disclose at the end of the process but how long ago did they figure out they wanted a $2/hour cap and why did they wait until the last staff report before the decision to disclose it publicly? I think the answer is obvious it was a tactical move, they didn’t want the pushback they knew they would receive if they told people rates could be $2/hour.

    1. Mark West

      “I think the answer is obvious it was a tactical move, they didn’t want the pushback they knew they would receive if they told people rates could be $2/hour.”

      I won’t defend the apparent lack of transparency, but if we are appropriately implementing paid parking we need to be willing to raise the rates to whatever is needed to obtain the desired response, which may well be greater than $2/hr. I’m more concerned about the $0.50/hr ‘floor’ being charged when it isn’t necessary than I am about whatever the peak demand cost may be.

      1. Ron Glick

        Mark couldn’t we, as an alternative to raising rates to get certain impacts, achieve the same thing by lowering rates to get other impacts like giving permits to workers who volunteer to park in the underutilized Richard’s lot?

        1. Mark West

          In an ideal world, perhaps. There is no evidence, however, to suggest your approach will work. On the contrary, there are decades worth of evidence in a multitude of cities that show that paid parking works. I prefer data to speculation.

    1. Alan Miller

      I define ‘works’ as reduces circling, increases the number of open spaces on busy blockfaces at peak times, and doesn’t harm downtown businesses.  Is that paid parking and the plan presented?  MAY-be.

      1. Ron Glick

        Sounds reasonable. Problem is the city wants a twelve hour a day solution to a two hour a day problem. Since most of my trips downtown are off peak I rarely ever need to drive more than one or two extra blocks to find a space and that is often offset by parking a block or two ahead on other trips. Go all the way around four blocks, sometimes but rarely. My opposition stems mainly from this sledgehammer approach to a problem that requires a scalpel.

        1. David Greenwald

          I don’t agree that it’s a two-hour a day problem.  It’s not 12, but it’s really hard to find parking even in the afternoon in the SE and impossible after about 4 pm.

        2. Ron Glick

          Okay David, a 4 hour a day problem with a twelve hour a day solution.

          I ran into Robb Davis about two weeks ago near third and G. It was around 6:30 pm on a Friday. He asked me where I parked?

          I told him 4th and G and that I went around the block once.

          Last Friday at 6:30 it was the same. I went around the block once and found a spot at 3rd and H.

          Today I made two trips downtown and found parking within 1/2 block of my destination both times. At 10:30 I went to Mischkas and parked on F south of second and at 3:30 I went to the bank and parked at 4th and E.

          People are adaptable David. Even you have no problem dealing with your parking problems. From my perspective the solution is worse than the disease. Much of the community has adapted. There are people who bike in all the time and others who bike in when they know it will be crowded, take busses or Uber, time their driving visits to off peak hours, walk, skateboard, use jump bikes. There is a kind of equilibrium in the human ecology of Davis with the limited amount of parking that currently exists. Yes some employees park where they can and some college people park and ride bikes to campus but is life so horrible now? I don’t think so. I’m enjoying my life and have adapted to the town I live in and can function well enough as things are.

          Adding parking meters 12 hours a day seven days a week is disruptive not only to me but to the entire human ecology of the center of the habitat we all share known as Davis, California. This is the problem the church people identified. If you disrupt the ecology of the core they fear it will disrupt the ecology of the area around the church and then what will be the response? Of course it will be more meters.

          My hangout, Mischkas, where you can get the best coffee in town, is ground zero for the parking meters. So whether or not I can afford to pay, the meters represent a disruption to my lifestyle, one I resent and feel is so disproportionate to the problem that I have done everything I can to oppose them.

        3. Alan Miller

          impossible after about 4 pm

          Oh give me a break.  Have you ever tried to park in a business district in central Berkeley or most parts of San Francisco?  Davis is a piece of cake!

        4. David Greenwald

          “People are adaptable David. Even you have no problem dealing with your parking problems. ”

          Yeah, I pay $75 a month to deal with my parking problem.

        5. David Greenwald

          “Oh give me a break.  Have you ever tried to park in a business district in central Berkeley or most parts of San Francisco?  Davis is a piece of cake!”

          Many times.  I was just in SF last week, I believe we paid to park for a few hours in parking lot.  In NY right now, if I had a car, I’d be paying to park.

  9. Ron Glick

    It wasn’t my comparison of parking issues but like that old T-shirt said, “London, Paris, New York, SanFrancisco, Rumsey.”

    You pay 75 a month but you work downtown so you don’t need to shuffle your car. What does that work out to an hour that you are downtown? Wow $2.50 a day. Perhaps you should consider an X permit. Actually I don’t care how you choose to spend your money but you think your parking rent will be going up when that gets the rest of us 1.25 hours at $2 an hour? Best to lock in a longterm contract now David, prices are going up.

    But wait there is more.

    So I’ll admit my point about adaptation and the equilibrium of the human ecology of Davis isn’t perfect in your situation. Still, I think that it holds that you have adapted to your situation, as have many in Davis. Paid parking represents a disruption to that human ecology for many residents who don’t spend the entire day downtown.

  10. Edgar Wai

    I am sorry, but what kind of parking meter is the city trying to install?

    Could we do this:

    On each side of a block with 8 or more parking spaces, one of them has a traditional parking meter. The enforcement hours can be 12 hours a day. Maybe 25 cents for 10 minutes, and it can only bank up to 60 minutes.

    Optional rule:

    A store owner can opt to be in charge of the meter installed near them, or to allow the city install additional meters near their store. Half of the money collected by the meter then goes to the store owner. (Collect during normal hour and just hand it to the store.)

    1. Edgar Wai

      If a customer tells a store owner that they parked at the meter in front of their store, at the store owner’s discretion they could reimburse the customer with quarters. It is not required for the store owner to reimburse.

      1. Ron Glick

        Problem is that many downtown businesses are low margin so they can’t afford this solution.

        As explained in my comment at the top of this section:

        “Fourth what do the economics say about the validation system that is being proposed and we were promised by the CC that is now revenue neutral to the city? How can a business running on small margins afford to pick up the tab for customer parking? It simply can’t. So the city promises something to alleviate the concerns of the citizens but then designs it so its doomed to failure. Should we thank the CC, the staff or the consultants for coming up with such a boondoggle that over promises and under delivers?”

  11. Don Shor

    The council should just table this whole thing. There’s nothing close to consensus about it and the current proposal is not sufficiently explained as to its basis.

    I’m not proposing recreating the committee that worked on this, but the council needs to meet with those who are directly affected by it. There’s a communication problem here at the very least.

    I really think it’s only a very narrow interest group that supports this proposal at this point.

    1. Craig Ross

      I think that’s a bit ridiculous Don.  They’ve already met with those directly affected by it.  They had a committee/ task force.  They hired consultants.  At some point you need to make the tough call – the people affected by it are not experts on the subject.  The buck stops with the council, time to make the call.

      1. Ron Glick

        I agree with you for the most part Craig. The council needs to vote  and take political responsibility for those votes. It will be an interesting meeting. They could go all in and adopt the staff report or they could go all out and do nothing. In between there are a myriad number of things they could do. Some of those things I would shrug at, others make me want to cuss. The thing to remember is that there are 4 of them and any two could block any part of the proposal. When Brett postponed the decision he said something about how they had to get it right. He was being a little over dramatic in my opinion. The reality is they have to get three votes. They could do the right thing or they could do the wrong thing and no matter what they do people will decide for themselves if it was right or wrong. Don is right, there is no consensus so no matter what they decide there will be political capital earned or spent.

        The only place I disagree with you Craig is when you dismiss the people affected by meters because they are not experts. I think I have a good grasp of the economics, the supply and demand dynamics,  including the time the of day and day of week demand oscillation, the additional seasonal demand dynamics, the geography, the social ecology, the history, the transportation issues, the budgetary realities and the pricing dynamics, the amount of popular support, the larger amount of popular  opposition and finally, how my personal life style will be effected.

        Craig please remember what the Wizard told the Scarecrow “Back where I come from we have Universities- where men go to become great thinkers. And when they come out, they think deep thoughts, and with no more brains than you have. But — they have one thing you don’t have– a diploma!”

        Or as I like to say, knowing right and wrong is not correlated to book learnin’.

         

        1. Bill Marshall

          Quite frankly (although I’m not)[inside joke, for ‘newbies;] I see no “right” or “wrong” decision here… not even sure a decision needs to be made… but, some would opine that ‘no decision’ (status quo) is a ‘decision’… how many angels can dance on a paid/unpaid parking slot?  Je ne sais quoi…

          But if the CC defers, indefinitely, they should resign, or be recalled… fish or cut bait…

        2. Alan Miller

          “Back where I come from we have Universities- where men go to become great thinkers. And when they come out, they think deep thoughts, and with no more brains than you have. But — they have one thing you don’t have– a diploma!”

          Wow.  I missed that one.  I gotta watch that Oz movie again, with Dark Side of the Moon turned down.

    2. Mark West

      “I’m not proposing recreating the committee that worked on this, but the council needs to meet with those who are directly affected by it. There’s a communication problem here at the very least.”

      So…if I understand, your suggestion is the CC ignore the Task Force and only talk to the few members who now have cold feet on this issue?

      We asked a group of stakeholders to invest a year studying the problem and they came up with their best approach, which includes paid parking. If we value their time and effort we should work to implement their entire list of recommendations, not just the ones that are popular. We are all directly impacted by the decision, not just the few business owners who are speaking out now. The Task Force represented all of us, and that is who the CC should be listening to now, not the few noisy ones.

      We are now five years on from the final report of the Task Force. Your suggestion will likely mean that five years from now we will still be trying to find a solution to our parking challenge, which Alan M. reminds us really has been an issue for close to 20 years. While I have reservations of the plan Staff have put forward, there comes a time when we need to start implementing plans rather than simply talking them to death.

       

      1. Don Shor

        So…if I understand, your suggestion is the CC ignore the Task Force

        No, you don’t understand. I have said the task force made a number of suggestions and it is not implementing them in the manner that was described, i.e,

        “the recommendations presented in this report should be considered an
        integrated package, intended for coordinated implementation.”

        There is strong and broad opposition to this proposal, and a rather narrow base of support for it. So I suggest they not pass it as proposed at the next meeting.

        While I have reservations of the plan Staff have put forward, there comes a time when we need to start implementing plans rather than simply talking them to death.

        So, if I understand this, you think the council should pass a plan that you have described as a poor implementation, simply because “we need to start implementing plans.”

        1. Mark West

          No, I think the CC should send this plan back for revision, but make it clear the intent is to move forward with paid parking. Focus on what is wrong with this plan, rather than continue the fight over the need for the policy.

      2. Ron Glick

        “While I have reservations of the plan Staff have put forward…”

        I guess the difference between you and me is how strongly we disagree with that plan.

  12. Edgar Wai

    Do all downtown business owners unanimously oppose parking meters? What if the city council just allow any business owner to opt for one (or more) parking meter in front of their store? The city will install the meter, and give the key to the store owner. The store owner can collect the quarters tax free and reimburse their customers as they see fit.

    Parking enforcement will write citations and collect any fines.

    If no business opt for the meter, then it is the end of the story.

    Doing it this way, the city council does not need to force anyone to accept the effect of parking meters.

    * * *

    What about just painting more parking slots green (20 minutes)? The store owner can opt and ask the city to paint the slot near their store green.

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