Implementation of paid parking as effort to reduce traffic congestion
The City of Davis will add paid parking spaces in the downtown area to alleviate traffic issues. At the time this article was written, City Council was scheduled to finalize the plan to proceed with increasing metered parking options on Feb. 5.
Discussions about paid parking started in 2012, when the City of Davis considered that demand for parking increased during lunch hours and in the evenings, creating traffic congestion, noise, air pollution, aggressive driving across intersections, and an uncomfortable environment for pedestrians, according to a press release.
Meanwhile, downtowndavis.org, an online organization composed of small businesses, has congregated together in solidarity against paid parking.
According to the website, this DowntownDavis group is “a loose association of small businesses and others who are invested financially and emotionally in downtown Davis that have joined together to advocate for the benefit of downtown Davis […] formed, in particular, to stop paid parking from being put in throughout downtown [… believing] that paid parking will drive customers away from the downtown [they] have all put so much effort into making welcoming.”
Despite lack of approval from the businesses, Brian Abbanat, the senior transportation planner for the Transportation Division, confirmed that the paid parking plan will still move forward as specific details are finalized for the City Council’s review.
“In November of 2017, [City Council] gave broad policy direction supporting paid parking in the southeast quadrant and asked us to come back to them for specific policies and ordinances that would enable them to take the next step forward,” Abbanat said. “We have been working on a paid parking implementation plan for the last 10 or 11 months. And so now that it’s complete, we have more details related to paid parking and how we plan to actually implement it — that’s what they’re taking action on in February.”
Brett Lee, the mayor of Davis, understood the concerns people may have with paid parking. However, he urged others to think about the context of the problem.
“When you ask someone whether they’re in favor of paid parking, people say, ‘No,’” Lee said, according to The Davis Enterprise. “Why would they be in favor of paid parking? The problem with that is the context. Ask them if they are happy with the current parking situation downtown and they say, ‘No, absolutely not.’ Am I in favor of paid parking to address the terrible parking situation that we have downtown? Yeah, absolutely.”
Abbanat noted that there are some positives to implementing paid parking.
“We are expecting it to improve traffic in Downtown,” Abbanat said. “One of the problems we have right now — particularly during our peak — is that we have high occupancy rates. Most people driving around downtown are actually looking for parking space. What paid parking will do will ensure that parking space is available because we intend to price it at rates at which we will achieve about 1 to 2 parking spaces available.”
Abbanat expects the paid parking modifications to cover a chunk of Downtown Davis.
“This is primarily the southeast quadrant which is roughly First Street to Third Street and D Street to H Street, but not including H Street itself,” Abbanat said.
He also noted that that the process has taken a very long time, in part due to concerns from the Davis community.
“This has been a topic of discussion for a really long time,” Abbanat said. “We understand that there are some community concerns about it. We’re hoping that this sorts out higher priority users from lower priority, and we hope to ensure that parking is prioritized for customers.”
Furthermore, Abbanat said that although paid parking is just a small part of the recommendations, it plays an essential part so that other recommendations could be implemented.
“Paid parking is one of the recommendations,” Abbanat said. “We have been trying to implement other recommendations from that plan, as paid parking is a critical component of the plan for other recommendations to be effective. We are asking our City Council on Feb. 5th to make some final parking policy decisions related to paid parking so we can start to work towards installation of the meters themselves. That process will take quite some time, so I wouldn’t expect to see any meters on the ground before fall of this year.”
Written by: Stella Tran — firstname.lastname@example.org