On March 25, Davis City Council halted a proposal to implement paid parking in downtown Davis.
In October 2012, Davis City Council appointed members for the Downtown Parking Task Force (DPTF) which would meet monthly to identify the parking problems in downtown Davis. The task force came up with solutions for the management of parking as well as parking availability.
After much research, the DPTF presented a package of 19 recommendations for downtown parking. Among these 19 recommendations were paid parking for the Southeast Quadrant and the Amtrak lot because these areas have the highest density at peak parking periods.
“The purpose of paid parking was not for city revenue, the purpose was because it is an appropriate parking management tool to ensure that on-street parking space in the highest demand areas are available for customers, the secondary byproduct of that is that it does generate revenue,” said Brian Abbanat of the Transportation Planning Division of the City of Davis Public Works department.
According to the Downtown Parking Management Plan the paid parking would cost a dollar an hour.
Abbanat said that implementing every recommendation made by the DPTF would cost $1.4 million.
“If we sign all the costs of the parking plan to the parking meters, [we could never get] cost recovery with $0.50 an hour, or even $0.75 an hour,” Abbanat said.
According to Robb Davis, a committee member of the DPTF, although two-hour parking has been implemented downtown, people tend to move their cars to a different downtown parking space every two hours, which doesn’t open up spots for new customers to park.
“What paid parking has been empirically demonstrated to do in many cities when you ask for a small amount, it frees up parking [because] people are cost sensitive,” Davis said.
The goal of the committee, according to Davis, was to have no more than 85 percent parking occupancy at any given hour during any day, meaning that there would be approximately one free parking space on every block face.
Additionally, Davis said that the encouraged parking turnover is good for downtown Davis businesses because more customers would be able to have access to the businesses.
Part of the process of coming up with the Downtown Parking Management Plan was to collect data in the downtown area to assess peak times and parking availability to better inform the recommendations to be made. One of the discoveries that the DPTF made was that the E Street paid lot had similar occupancy levels to the free street parking.
“People will pay a little something to have certainty about getting a parking spot. I think our data has demonstrated the potential of paid parking,” Davis said.
Dan Wolk, Davis City Council member, said that pieces of the Downtown Parking Management Plan were approved, like wayfinding endeavors, but that the recommendations pertaining to paid parking are on halt for now.
“The parking problem we’re having is a good problem, it is a reflection of the popularity of our downtown,” Wolk said.
However, Wolk found that in talking to downtown business owners many said they felt that paid parking would negatively affect their businesses, despite support for paid parking from the Davis Chamber of Commerce.
Additionally, Wolk said that he did not agree with making the Amtrak Station lot a paid parking lot as he feels it would deter people from using public transportation.
“The bottom line is that [parking] is a problem. It is a good thing that our downtown is so popular and vibrant … but at this point I was not prepared to say paid parking was the answer, [however] it may ultimately be the answer,” Wolk said.
SYDNEY COHEN can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.