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A city plan to extend parking restrictions during Second Saturday has split opinion between Midtown residents who see the plan as a solution to some of their parking problems – and those who believe it will only create more.
The proposal is to create a pilot program that extends the hours of “residential only” permit parking areas from 6 p.m. to 12 a.m. on Second Saturdays, which have been a boon for Midtown businesses but an annoyance for some residents who have to share limited parking spaces with visitors.
The pilot program wuold cover 16th Street to 29th Street, and the south side of G Street to the south side of I Street.
If the response seems positive, the city would initiate a three-month trial period with restrictions in effect only on Second Saturdays, according to Parking Services Manager Howard Chan. After that, Chan would discuss results with neighborhood groups before moving to put the plan in place permanently.
According to Midtown Business Association Executive Director Liz Studebaker, visitors to the restricted areas will be able to park without a problem for two hours, but would be cited by parking enforcement if they park for longer amounts of time.
The upside of the program for residents is that Second Saturday visitors won’t be able to take advantage of free parking on some residential streets, keeping rowdy late-night revelers away from residences.
“Partiers return to their cars after 12:30 a.m. or 1 a.m and they are drunk,” said Midtown resident Dale Kooyman. “Vandalism, broken bottles, trash and debris, people urinating against the house – those things are not unusual.”
In addition to the bad behavior of some Second Saturday visitors, Kooyman said the inconvenience homeowners face when they leave their house and return to find no street parking is another problem he’d like to see resolved with the pilot program.
There is a downside for residents, however. The extended time limits would force homeowners to provide visitor passes for their guests staying longer than two hours and the city may not be able to hand out as many passes as residents would like.
“I think this is a horrible idea,” said Midtown resident Rob Sperling. “It limits your ability of how you can use your home.”
Sperling said that neighborhood events with lots of people attending would make the lack of multiple passes a problem.
“Folks that come to the event would either have to park a long distance away or they couldn’t park across from their homes when they need to,” Sperling said.
The idea for the program started as a request from the City Council District 4 office in response to phone calls and emails from residents asking for help with problems related to Second Saturday parking and traffic, according to Chan.
“People are feeling it the most in the zones where we see a fusion of homes and nightlife – bars, restaurants and so forth,” Chan said. “As the downtown and Midtown becomes more vibrant, we get more calls from folks who feel the impact.”
Chan met with Studebaker and members of the MBA transportation committee for “brainstorming sessions” in March and April to define the idea before going to the residents to get input and more fully develop a plan.
The proposal, which is still in the early stages, took some members of nearby neighborhood associations by surprise, according to Marshall School/New Era Park Neighborhood Association Co-Chair Julie Murphy, who first discovered the plan mentioned in a recent MBA meeting agenda packet.
“To my knowledge, the plan had not been disclosed to any neighborhood associations,” Murphy said. “We wanted a chance to speak up and say, ‘Hey! We need more time to review this idea.’ ”
But Chan said Wednesday that residents will get that opportunity before a pilot program gets off the ground.
“I think some people may feel like they are being railroaded, but that is not what we want to do at all,” Chan said. “There was never a danger of this pilot moving forward without sufficient outreach to find out if it’s what people really want.”
Chan said he will be meeting with each of the neighborhood associations for the area that would be impacted by the program to get feedback.
Editor's note: As a Sacramento Press readers pointed out in the coversation below, there are parking garages in Midtown and downtown. The East End Parking Garage on 17th Street between Capitol & L, for example, charges a flat $2 rate for Second Saturday visitors. The Sacramento Press is working on a follow-up article about the garages and the city's efforts to better promote them.
Editor's note: Changes have been made to the article to reflect that the proposed pilot program is an idea that is in the early stages of being vetted.
Melissa Corker is a staff reporter for the Sacramento Press. Follow her on twitter @MelissaCorker.