Friday, December 6, 2013

Downtown Parking Planners Propose Ending Free On-Street Parking in Old North (225)

Downtown parking is in the news because the “Downtown Parking Task Force” (“Task Force”) (image 1) presented a 256 page report to the Davis City Council this last Tuesday (image 2).

Numbers 2 and 3 of that group’s 19 recommendations caught my attention because they focus on getting downtown employees to park farther from the “core of the core” by motivating them to park in Old North (among other places).

The odd thing about this effort is that the Task Force proposes to stimulate this by starting to charge employees $8 a month for what is now free!

I guess it is only in quirky Davis that something free is made more attractive by charging $8 a month for it.

I kid you not.

In Image 3, I reproduce the Task Force’s Recommendation #2. I have marked with a red box the passage calling for a “new” permit for--wait for it--“lower cost employee parking!” The Task Force means, of course, lower cost than an existing employee X permit, which would be $10 a month or more.

Obviously, however, $8 a month is a whole lot more than the current zero a month.

This weirdness is repeated and elaborated in Recommendation #3, reproduced here as Image 4.

The Wider Context
I am of course extracting this action from its wider context. That context is a radical plan (seemingly supported by high City officials) for increased regulation of Old North parking, of which this measure is only a small part.*

It is disappointing, to say the least, to see the private sector oriented Task Force appear to side with and even to sponsor increased government regulation (image 5). 

The Task Force also seems to treat the proposed parking change as a “done deal” when it is in fact strongly opposed by many Old North residents and far from likely to happen.

But, to belabor the obvious: To be consistent with the objective of getting downtown employees to park further from the "core of the core," the Task Force ought to favor keeping the 250-some park-for-free spaces in Old North park-for-free. 

(This in turn raises the question of why so few downtown employees are inclined to park in Old North now despite the fact that parking is free and many spaces are available. Addressing the City Council at the Tuesday Task Force session, Allan Miller may have suggested one plausible answer: laziness. [Of course, multiple factors enter into parking decisions.])

(And this last thought leads to another: Rather than raise the price of Old North parking from zero to $8 a month, perhaps downtown employees could be paid $8 a month to park there.)



* See:

Safety and Parking Advisory Commission’s unanimous rejection of this massive parking regulation and restriction plan.

City of Davis description of the state of the parking revisions proposal.