When the Davis City Council attempted to address the paid parking pushback, they installed a compromise that on paper seemed rather reasonable. With large numbers of businesses and citizens up in arms against the proposal for parking meters on downtown streets, they created a compromise by only putting parking meters on surface lots.
The problem, of course, is that their proposal was actually backwards – they put paid parking in surface lots that had excess capacity, but not on streets which do not.
This is best illustrated by my experience last summer and fall trying to navigate the downtown, with the Spencer Alley construction forcing me out of my PAID parking spot that I rent in the alleyway.
The experience is illustrative of the problem. Arriving downtown in the morning, I usually find street parking on G Street available up until about 11 am. However, by 11 it is no longer possible to find parking on G St., but you can find it in the G St. parking lot in front of what used to be Ace.
During lunch, that parking lot is jammed and you have to go up to the G and 4th garage, where there is always parking after the second level.
Coming back around 1:30 or so, you usually could not find parking on the street unless you happened to catch a car backing out of a spot, but could usually find one or two spots available in the G St. lot.
After about 4 pm, it was necessary to go park in the parking garage.
So here’s the thing that doesn’t make sense for the policy. The council is going to charge for the parking lot – where you can get spots – and not charge for the street, where you can’t.
Now flash forward to the Mace issue. The biggest problem with Mace from January to March was that I-80 traffic combined with road construction on Mace itself produced massive traffic back ups. But, as we have pointed out, similar problems existed in winter 2017 as well, but they dissipated as it became spring.
But people on the Mace corridor have planted in their minds that the problem is the road redesign rather than conditions on I-80. You cannot convince many otherwise, even though the traffic was just as much a problem from the Mace Curve to the eastbound I-80 on-ramp in the southbound direction – an area unaffected by the road changes – as it was in the other direction headed northbound.
What’s more, the staff report even acknowledges that these changes are largely due to traffic on I-80 and Waze and may not be solved by going to two lanes again.
Observe the following.
The city cites at least three factors contributing to the problem: traffic congestion on eastbound I-80 which backs up past Richards Blvd., resulting in motorists exiting at Richards and bypassing freeway congestion by traveling east on Chiles through Mace, increasing congestion at the Mace Blvd./Chiles Road intersection.
Second, the Mace Blvd. on-ramps are backing up, and third, “Mobile and in-car navigation applications re-route freeway traffic in Dixon at the Pedrick Road interchange around the congestion via eastbound Tremont Road and northbound Mace Blvd.”
Staff believes that the project itself has likely contributed to congestion, both through the construction work and some of the design features, including the reduction from four to two automobile traffic lanes and the removal of right turn lanes at the Mace and Cowell intersection.
At the same time, they write: “Traffic congestion on Interstate 80 continues to increase, as does the use of navigation applications diverting drivers around it. This technology has also affected Cowell Blvd, Covell Blvd, and Second Street corridors. Given navigation applications algorithms route drivers based on travel time, peak traffic congestion relief from capacity-increasing design revisions may not endure, long term.”
Staff warns “routing more cars through the corridor may occur, resulting in similar congestion problems.”
In other words, increasing capacity may simply encourage the algorithms to direct more traffic through the corridor. We may make these changes, spend all this money, and it may not help at all.
I am also concerned with the attendees at the meeting two weeks ago. For the most part it was folks who were over 60. Not that there is anything wrong with that group of people, but we have a whole school in south Davis – Pioneer with a population of parents with school-aged children, several hundred of them, and none of them came to the meeting. The only child at this meeting was mine.
So council is proposing to make changes that staff acknowledges may not fix the problem, responding to a population that may not be representative of the overall population that utilizes the corridor or the Mace-Cowell intersection. And they may be solving a problem that really does not exist, other than for a brief period of time in the winter.
—David M. Greenwald reporting