It turned out that none of the four members of the Davis City Council were ready to add paid parking on the streets, and so they created a compromise on Monday that added paid parking for four surface lots but no streets – plus some other changes they hope will alleviate peak hour congestion – and stopped short of the move opposed by what seemed to be the vast majority of not only businesses but also the community.
Following an hour or so of public comment, the councilmembers each laid out their thoughts and then methodically put together a motion that included some major moves and some minor ones, leading to a 4-0 vote with Councilmember Will Arnold not present due to a self-declared conflict.
The proposal was to add paid parking to four parking lots: E Street Plaza (which currently has paid parking), Amtrak Train Depot, North F Street Lot, and the South G Lot.
The enforcement time would run until 7 pm – rather than the proposed 10 am to 10 pm that staff and consultants had originally recommended. There would also be no Sunday enforcement – which was a big complaint by both the community and businesses.
For the Amtrak lot, staff will explore providing discounts for Yolo County residents. There will be additional language that revenue funds will be used in the downtown. They will look into adding X-permit parking in various locations, look into the appropriate number of 20-minute spots available in the downtown (Lucas Frerichs suggested that there were perhaps too many of them, which could free up some additional regular parking spots on the street), move Jump Bike and Zipcar spots as needed, and also work with the Davis Chamber and Davis Downtown to convince employees not to park on surface streets.
In addition, Brett Lee added language that they would not be adding on-street paid parking at this time.
The crafting of the motion followed about an hour of council comment in which each councilmember laid out their general and specific comments on paid parking.
Mayor Lee said, “Many people believe that their approach will address the parking problem.” He added, “This is not meant to be a phase one and phase two. I have no time frame related to – if this doesn’t work after so many months, we’ll go to phase two. This is it.”
Instead, he said, “This is what I think will help the downtown parking situation. We’ll see how it goes. A future council can figure out where they go from there.”
Councilmember Frerichs said, “I’m totally opposed to paid parking meters.” He said that additional lots make sense, but “individual meters are, for me, not acceptable.”
He noted that “individual meters are more expensive than putting kiosks” either on lots or block faces. He added that “the meters are to me, an assault on the senses,” adding “additional clutter everywhere.”
The biggest issue, he said, “was once they go in, they don’t come out.” Therefore, he said, “there’s an ability to increase some of the lots potentially if that’s the direction that council wants to go.”
Councilmember Frerichs did push back on some of angry comments in the community, noting that “you don’t sign up for the Davis City Council … we’re used to being called all kinds of names… but rarely have I seen this type of rhetoric that’s been used on this issue, since I’ve been on the city council the past seven years.”
He said it’s one thing to not want the meters, “but there are a number of folks who have said the creation of paid parking in downtown Davis will destroy it. Paid parking has been in downtown Davis for 11 years at this point. The E Street Plaza is full pretty much every day. People are willing to pay at that lot – they do.
“The notion that paid parking is going to destroy the downtown is I think a bit much,” he said.
“There’s also this notion that this is a ploy to raise revenue,” he said. “If we had been concerned about just raising revenue, we would have raised the rates on the one or two paid lots over the past 11 years, we’ve not done that.”
He pushed back as well on the notion that “the city council wants to destroy the downtown.” He said, “That’s just patently false.”
Mayor pro tem Gloria Partida said, “We’ve been working on this for a long time.” She said, “This is something that no doubt that we need a solution for.”
She noted that they need more spaces, more turnover, but “we know we can’t afford a $10 million structure – especially when there’s a structure that’s mostly empty.”
The logic behind the parking meters is that “the paid parking will move people to the free spots in garages and out of the southeast quadrant. I think there is a lot of good that’s associated with this strategy.”
She said, “I’ve sort of been on the fence around this subject for a long time.”
However, ultimately, she said, “it would be easy to make that decision based only on best practices. The problem with that is when you’re looking at only statistics those numbers represent real people. For every person who benefits, there are people who do not.”
Gloria Partida said, “The biggest problem I have with paid parking – aside from the ugly meters on the street – is that the reason it will not harm businesses is that the people who can afford to park and still enjoy our downtown are a subset of our community – this is essentially a regressive tax and it will squeeze out the people in our community who are already struggling with high taxes.”
She said, “I want to make sure we’ve done everything we can to manage our parking without making our downtown experience exclusive.”
Dan Carson noted that the downtown parking problem “was not a top issue, but it was a common issue – they no longer come to downtown to shop because parking is a mess.”
He said, “I feel that there is an issue we need to take on. I’m a fan of using fiscal incentives to shape good public policy outcomes.”
He said, “The analyst in me thinks that the approach that city staff and the consultants brought to us is a very good start to think about.
“There’s another side to this,” he said. “As elected officials… we operate with the consent of the governed. We have to listen to what our constituents are saying.”
He said, “What I’m hearing is that the idea of meters on the streets is particularly concerning to folks.”
He added, “I think there is a middle course that we can strike a compromise that helps us better manage our parking in the city while also potentially generating some resources.”
With that, the council was ready to move forward on a middle course – adding paid parking to some lots and attempting to better manage the current supply, recognizing that they lack the resources to add a major new lot.
—David M. Greenwald reporting