Parking reform for Sacramento

Note: Added item to Parking fees below, in italic, based on an idea from an article in Streetsblog USA.

Following on to the discussion group topic this week of Walkable City this week, Part 3: Get the Parking Right, here is a list of my thoughts about parking reform in the City of Sacramento. Almost all applies to parking anywhere. I think nearly every one of these has been mentioned in previous posts, but I’ve not brought them together in a single place.

The City of Sacramento has a Parking Services website. Parking Services is part of Public Works.

  • Parking management:
    • Parking must be managed under a city-wide parking management plan, and the plan must be consistent with city and state policy for reducing motor vehicle use and vehicle miles traveled (VMT). The city does not have a parking management plan, so far as is known.
    • Parking mandates must be removed city-wide, not just for the central city and transit oriented locations.
    • The city should foreswear any new structure parking (parking garages or parking decks). Though the city does not have any active plans for new parking, it has had recently, and they may come back.
    • Require all new housing or mixed use developments to unbundle parking, meaning that no free parking is provided for residents, and all parking is available to any person who wants to rent the space. Unbundling should be phased in over five years for all existing parking.
    • Prohibit commercial parking lots adjacent to sidewalks, meaning the buildings must face sidewalks and not parking lots.
    • Property assessment of surface parking lots will be at the same value as the productive land use that existed there before, to discourage building removal and and to keeping of land in less productive or unproductive uses; this requires cooperation from the county
  • Parking fees:
    • A base rate for all parking will be set such that it covers installation, maintenance, and management of all public parking; this rate might vary by whether parking is metered or not, or might be uniform throughout the city.
    • Charge at least the base rate for all street parking, everywhere in the city, via meters or permits, that recovers base rate; NO FREE PARKING!
    • Set variable rates for residential parking permits based on the size, weight, and fuel source of the vehicle
    • Formally implement variable pricing of street and structured parking to achieve Shoup’s 85% utilization
    • Charge for handicapped spaces (this eliminates the motivation for non-handicapped drivers to illegally use handicapped spots)
    • Eliminate all holiday or promotional free parking; research indicates that free parking actually reduces business customers by reducing parking turnover
    • Pilot ideas for charging for delivery use of street parking
  • Parking revenue:
    • Parking revenue will not go into the general fund or to pay off bonds not related to parking, but be used for specific purposes related to parking and neighborhood improvement
    • 50% of parking revenue (above base rate) will be spent on neighborhood improvements on the same streets or within parking districts
    • 50% of revenue (above base rate) will be allocated to transit operations and transit amenities
  • Parking conversion to higher uses:
    • Add trees in the parking lane on all streets without sidewalk buffers; many of the lower income neighborhoods in the city lack sidewalk buffers and private trees, making walking unpleasant and hazardous
    • Do not charge for conversion of street parking to dining space, and minimize permit costs for street dining
    • Provide one or more short-term (20 minutes or less) parking spaces on every block with retail
    • Provide one or more delivery spaces per block with any retail, and enforce against double-parking for delivery where delivery spaces are available
    • Replace parallel parking with diagonal parking on overly wide streets, to slow traffic; most streets in the city are overly wide
    • Where sidewalk or sidewalk buffer space is not available for micro-mobility (bike share, scooter share) parking, street parking will be converted in sufficient quantity
    • Modify development standards to allow only one-side parking in new residential developments
    • Allow conversion of parking to bike facilities where a reduction of travel lanes is not practical (on streets 30 mph or higher)

I strongly believe that the single city action most responsible for the renewal of midtown Sacramento, all the infill development and successful business, is the removal of parking minimums (mandates) from the central city in 2012. Since that time, the city has removed parking mandates from land near major transit stops, and in 2022, the state prohibited cities from establishing mandates near major transit stops (the definition of a major transit stop is fuzzy, however).

The city has proposed, in its draft 2040 General Plan, to remove parking mandates city-wide. It remains to be seen whether pressure from politicians and suburban protectors of ‘their’ street parking spot will subvert this recommendation. 2040 General Plan draft, Chapter 8 Mobility, Goals and Policies M-2.17 Parking Management Strategy, page 8-18.

Other resources:

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