Well-managed parking facilities are important to our local economy and quality of life. Especially in the downtown area, parking must serve several different constituencies with distinct interests and needs, including businesses, restaurants, customers, shoppers, diners, residents, and commuters. Parking should also generate sufficient revenue to provide for maintenance and capital improvements, without reliance on taxpayers. There is no perfect parking policy that can satisfy every goal, but the City can and should strive for the best possible balance.
Several months ago, the City, in partnership with the downtown Business Improvement District (BID), commissioned a comprehensive report on this priority, including an in-depth analysis of regulations, infrastructure, technology, and administrative oversight. In the time since, our consultants conducted field observations, met with stakeholders, held a community meeting, and reviewed options with our planning staff. A few days ago, the City Council received the final report, which you can read in full here. Some of the key recommendations are:
- establish more flexible and cost-effective parking permit options to accommodate car owners with different parking needs;
- introduce credit card and pay-by-cell capacity for on-street meters, beginning with a pilot in our downtown core;
- adjust on-street and off-street rates and hours to maximize the availability of convenient parking;
- launch car and bike share programs and services;
- expand overnight parking options for guests and visitors; and
- centralize administration and oversight of parking operations and enforcement.
Beyond this outline, the report drills down to a pretty fine level of detail and includes very specific suggestions for each parking facility.
Moving forward, our staff will now convert the report’s recommendations into legislation that can be presented for the Council’s consideration and action. The Council will not necessarily embrace all of the report’s ideas — some may be modified and others rejected or deferred. But, at a minimum, our discussions about this issue will now benefit from rigorous analysis and the judgment of parking professionals.