Council Approves Contractor For Downtown Plaza

The City Council approved a scaled-down version of paid parking in downtown Davis on Monday night — one that does not include individual meters for on-street parking but does convert three downtown lots from free to paid parking.

The plan approved unanimously by the council (with the exception of Councilman Will Arnold, a downtown business owner who was recused from the vote) also extends parking enforcement downtown to 7 p.m. (from the current 5 p.m.). However, there will be no parking enforcement on Sundays, as was contained in the original proposal.

That original proposal, which would have converted a third of all public parking in the southeast quadrant of downtown to paid parking, drew what council members acknowledged Monday night was overwhelming opposition.

At the council’s hearing on the proposal earlier this month, nearly 50 people spoke during public comment, the vast majority in opposition.

Many were downtown business owners worried about losing customers and clients who wouldn’t want to pay to park.

With that hearing continued to Monday night, a dozen people showed up to speak out against the proposal again.

But Mayor Brett Lee, perhaps the most vocal supporter of the paid parking plan, arrived at the meeting with a scaled-down proposal for his colleagues to consider — one that would not include individual meters on street-side parking spaces.

With some additions from his colleagues, the package passed 4-0 Monday night includes the following components:

* Converts to paid parking the north F Street lot (known to many as the Kinko’s parking lot) and the south G Street lot (between Second and Third streets) as well as the Davis Depot/Amtrak lot. Similar to the current paid parking system in the E Street Plaza parking lot, those lots would have kiosks rather than individual meters. The Amtrak lot would be free on weekends.

* Adds two additional parking enforcement officers to the Davis Police Department

* Extends enforcement for time-limited free parking to 7 p.m. from the current 5 p.m.

* Requires that funds raised from parking fines be used for downtown improvements.

* Requests that staff look into creating a discount for Yolo County residents using the Davis Depot parking lot — a discount that would not be extended to Amtrak riders from other counties (particularly Sacramento) who drive to Davis to catch the train here in order to take advantage of the currently free parking.

* Requests that staff look into expanding the parking supply downtown in other ways, including possibly reducing the number of 20-minute parking spaces; relocating zip car parking spaces; moving Jump bike charging stations and racks that are currently on streets to sidewalk locations; expanding X-permit locations (used by employees of downtown businesses); and expanding uses in the underutilized Olive Drive parking lot that are currently reserved for X permits, including by adding free three-hour spaces, zip car spaces and Jump bike racks.

All told, the plan brings to 336 the total number of paid parking spaces in off-street lots downtown, including 57 in the E Street Plaza lot; 134 in the Amtrak lot; 104 in the north F Street lot; and 41 in the south G Street lot, according to city staff.

That’s a little less than half of the 690 paid parking spaces contained in the original proposal, which also included individual parking meters at all on-street parking spaces in an area of downtown bordered by First Street to the south, Third Street to the north, D Street to the west and H Street to the east.

On-street parking meters drew not only the opposition of business owners downtown worried about the impact on their businesses, but also those concerned about the aesthetics, and the fact that once installed, they might never be removed — something Councilman Lucas Frerichs noted as well on Monday.

“Once they go in, they don’t come out,” said Frerichs. “I’m totally opposed to installation of individual meters.”

Frerichs also suggested reducing the number of 20-minute on-street parking spaces downtown, noting there are about 100 such spaces “and I’m not sure we need 100 of them. We have the ability to free up some of those and turn them back into regular parking spaces.”

His colleagues on the council agreed, asking staff to look into that.

Mayor Pro Tem Gloria Partida said she’s been on the fence over the whole paid parking proposal, but like Frerichs said the on-street parking meters were one of the biggest problems for her, as well as the regressive nature of paid parking which might leave people who can’t afford to park downtown “squeezed out.”

“I want to make sure we have done everything we can to manage parking without making our downtown exclusive,” Partida said.

She also wants to see more help from downtown business owners ensuring their workers are using X permits to park farther from the downtown area.

One of the driving forces behind the original paid parking plan was reducing the number of downtown workers — as well as UC Davis students — who use free, prime parking spaces throughout the day, leaving shoppers and diners to circle downtown repeatedly in search of an open space.

“Businesses have come forward and really been against paid parking but it really is their responsibility to manage their employees,” Partida said.

Councilman Dan Carson, meanwhile, echoed what Lee has previously said — that there is a downtown parking problem and what staff and consultants had suggested as fixes were good ones.

However, he said, “we have to listen to what folks out there are saying. And what I’m hearing is that meters on the street are concerning to folks. The scale is concerning to folks.”

Compromise, said Carson, is possible.

He also echoed Partida in urging business owners to step up and help solve the issue of downtown workers using prime parking spaces.

Lee, meanwhile, thanked the staff and consultants who put a lot of time into researching and bringing forward the original paid parking proposal.

“I know that people were upset at what was proposed, but a lot of thought went into it,” said Lee.

— Reach Anne Ternus-Bellamy [email protected] Follow her on Twitter at @ATernusBellamy.

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