On Tuesday the Davis City Council will be asked to make a determination on one of the longer standing issues of controversy in this community – the issue of paid parking. Among other things, staff is asking that the council approve their paid parking policy recommendations along with their rates, and authorize an agreement for two years for parking management services.
Under the policy, if the council approves it, they would provide 690 paid parking spaces in the southeast quadrant between First and Third Streets and D and H Streets. This represents just under one-third (32 percent) of the public parking downtown. Paid parking spaces would have five-hour limits.
The rates would be fifty cents per hour off-peak and $1 per hour from 11:30 to 1:30 and 5 to 10 pm each evening. Paid parking would be enforced between 10 am and 10 pm each day with a reduction of non-paid parking to 90 minutes outside of the paid parking zone from 10 am to 8 pm.
The issue goes back to spring of 2014, when the Downtown Parking Task Force completed their work with the Downtown Parking Management Plan.
The task force unanimously supported a package of 19 recommendation to improve downtown parking management and supply.
From their standpoint, the task force studied “parking management best practices, listening to experts in the field, reviewing downtown surveys, and studying downtown parking data.”
From their standpoint, paid parking will help ensure on-street parking is available for customers by pricing meters to achieve 80 to 85 percent occupancy rates. Right now, studies have shown that there are sufficient numbers of spaces, but locations like the parking garage at 4th and G remains under-utilized.
By encouraging downtown employees – estimated at 15 to 25 percent of all spaces – to use a more distant available parking supply, they believe they can increase the parking capacity for customers.
Moreover, city staff believes this will allow “the City to extend timed parking restrictions, enabling customers to spend their money downtown longer without ticket anxiety.”
Staff notes that the two-hour time restrictions will no longer be needed “to force parking turnover because pricing naturally results in users staying only as long as needed, up to five hours.” Furthermore, they will eliminate re-parking restrictions since “downtown employees will likely shift to more appropriate parking locations.”
Staff had previously argued that “applying paid parking in the southeast quadrant best balances the varied objectives for managing the downtown parking supply, best prioritizes users, while accommodating the needs of many user groups, and is operationally feasible.”
In April 2016, the city conducted a downtown parking occupancy rate survey. Both on-street parking and off-street public lots and garages were surveyed.
While the ideal rate was roughly 85 percent, the average occupancy rate in 2016 was about 70 percent. The problem was that, during peak hours, the southeast quadrant was about 94 percent full. They hope by establishing paid parking and shifting employee parking to outside of these impacted areas, they can better manage the current parking supply.
From Councilmember Brett Lee’s perspective, we don’t have a supply issue, “we have a parking management issue.” He added, “Paid parking is a very important if not essential tool in the management of demand.”
But not everyone agrees with this. We have been noting opposition to the plan for some time, coming from bodies like the Davis Chamber and Davis Downtown.
In a letter from the Davis Downtown, they noted that they had conducted a parking survey sent out to their members in December.
In a letter dated January 28, they present three key findings.
First, they find that “71% of the respondents feel that the automotive parking supply in Downtown Davis is not adequate.” They write: “It is difficult to park in front of the location you may want to shop. However, due to the closeness of the shops and restaurants one can easily walk from one location to the next. The time limits on street parking does require one to shop quickly.”
Second, most business owners are not supplying X permits to their staff. They found: ““It’s very hard to keep moving their cars every two hours. When the parking permit for downtown for employees is so expensive.”
Furthermore: “When they need to move the vehicle, there is no space and they have to drive around, in some cases 10 minutes or longer to find parking.”
Finally, the vast majority, 77 percent, do not support the City’s plan to implement paid parking downtown.
They write: “Time limited free parking is necessary, requiring payment for short stops is a disincentive to shopping downtown. I won’t stop for lunch if I have to pay for parking to pick up a sandwich.”
Moreover: “Better enforcement of parking time limits. Shorten time limits in high demand areas. Bigger push for employees to park remotely.”
Meanwhile, in a January 28 letter to the mayor from the Davis Chamber, they note that they have “carefully considered the current Paid Parking Proposal that the Council will be voting on and has decided to provide strong objection to the current proposal as presented and respectfully request that you vote NO on the current proposal.”
The Davis Chamber, they write, “does not believe the proposal will enhance the unique character of the City or enhance downtown business vitality. We are equally skeptical that it will meet the objectives laid out by City planners to “increase parking availability.” Additionally, the proposal as presented to the community, does not do anything to address the real issue that must be addressed of increasing the supply of new parking spots.”
The key question now is whether the council will be willing to implement paid parking over the objections of both the Davis Downtown and Davis Chamber.
—David M. Greenwald reporting