When I hear all the frustrations around town about the lack of parking, I think boy, the time has come to deal with this already! But I was surprised to learn that our City staff and council have been working to improve it for a long time.
Not that long ago (5 years) the City bought the old fruit warehouse and turned it into a lot right in the heart of town. They have painted lots and streets to fit more cars. They have improved pay booths to make it simpler for visitors to pay. Lots of work has been done. But for as much as things have improved over the years, there are many needs that are not being met.
That’s why the City Economic Development Committee asked to conduct a study of parking, to get a clearer sense of what the issues are so we can target improvement.
Rick Williams Consulting just finished a study with a ‘toolbox’ of solutions to our current issues. At the September 2018 City Council Study Session the council agreed to take that study and move forward with adopting the principals and forming a working committee to start implementing those solutions.
The first step in building solutions is actually NOT building parking lots - its building partnerships. Finding places to park in a small area of land is all about efficiently using the land we have. So we set goals for building parking. We call them our Guiding Principals:
Coordination: with the City as a leader in providing parking for visitors, employees and residents we will encourage business involvement, set up clear signage and communication, and develop and support a stakeholder committee that will direct projects.
Priority users: prioritize user types in various locations, like on-street downtown versus parking lots; lots that require shuttles or walks; and residential neighborhoods.
Active capacity management: encourage shared parking in areas where parking is underutilized and implement new strategies when parking capacity is at or above 85% in areas.
Information systems: 1.) continuously measure performance to inform decision making and 2.) create and improve signage, maps, way finding, website, apps and branding of parking system.
Integration with other modes: use alternative modes of transportation to reduce car parking needs, emphasizing employee opportunities.
Future supply planning: continue planning for the future.
Fiscal management: the parking system must be financially sustainable.
These principals are the framework for all projects on our to do list which we will start working on right away!
Make it Happen
Planning is a boring, time consuming process, but we want solutions that will last. We are taking this project seriously. This year, in 2018, parking stakeholders will be invited to join the new advisory committee to begin implementing these projects. Next year in 2019, you will start to see additions, changes and improvements in our downtown parking system.
Many changes you will not SEE because they will be in partnerships - like off site employee parking programs, shuttling and parking lot sharing. All of these will reduce the demand on our downtown spots and lighten the load.
Short term, long term, lots of projects on the list will get us there. Parking will not be solved. As we manage being a tourist town, we will continually manage the parking needs that come with it.
As always, send me a comment or a note with your thoughts!