Parking plans for central city after pilot program cut
City officials are looking at a long-term solution to parking in the urban core, and while the effort has been under way for more than a year, last week’s canceling of the Midtown Second Saturday parking pilot program gave it new urgency.
City Parking Manager Howard Chan said Wednesday that the city is working with property owners in the central city to take over liability for privately owned parking lots after hours. The lots would be for businesses such as law offices that don’t need the spaces during events such as Second Saturday Art Walks.
“We’d do something like we did with the East End Parking Garage where we will take on the liability,” Chan said. “We would charge a small fee, and at the end of the day, we will recover our cost and talk about profit-sharing.”
Chan added that the East End garage near 19th Street and Capitol Avenue currently charges $2 for a full night, and he would expect rates to be at a similarly low level.
“What we can do is begin to expand the off-street supply in these impacted areas and charge a reasonable rate to encourage folks to use those in the business corridor instead of residential areas,” Chan said.
He added that once enough parking is available off-street in the central city, more restrictions can be placed on residential areas – where the recent pilot program failed. The idea is that that would keep the residential parking open for residents.
Many residents in Boulevard Park and Marshall School/New Era Park opposed the pilot program, which would have extended parking enforcement hours on Second Saturday, neighborhood association representatives told The Sacramento Press last week.
Concerned residents cited the difficulties of having guests over if parking were to be restricted, noting that only one guest parking pass is given per residence.
Chan said the next year will see guest passes easier to get, and he hopes the additional parking in privately owned lots will be full of those who come for the businesses, leaving residents – and their guests – free to park in their neighborhoods.
“It’s more comprehensive as opposed to just moving the problem a few blocks,” he said, adding that he killed the pilot program last week due to overwhelming lack of support from residents.
Parking in privately owned lots would likely be paid for at machines in each lot, which could then dispense tickets drivers could place on their dashboards. They might also be able to be paid by cellphone. Parking enforcement officers could swing through the lots on their regular patrol routes, increasing costs minimally.
Costs would be recuperated through the city’s take from the fees, and once the city broke even, property owners could benefit.
“We don’t need to make money here,” Chan said. “We just need to cover our cost.”
The city recently cut a deal with the owners of the old Greyhound station downtown, and another with the California Department of Motor Vehicles. While they are small lots, Chan said, it makes better use of the land.
“I think it’s fantastic,” said Midtown Business Association Executive Director Elizabeth Studebaker. “It’s exactly the kind of opportunity we need and the city needs in Midtown to create more available and affordable off-street parking.”
She added that there are numerous opportunities for the city to work with small business owners, and that the city managing the lots would be cost-effective.
Chan said he expects the parking situation to be more efficient within the next year.
“Be on the lookout for things to change relative to managing the parking supply,” he said. “We’re making sure we’re as efficient as can be with this asset. Whether city-owned or privately owned, it’s a significant impact on our central city.”
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