Parking thoughts

Applicable to the City of Sacramento, but also to any urbanized area:

  • Any block on which parking capacity regularly fills on any day of the week and any time of day should charge parking fees.
  • The price of parking should be managed so as to always have at least one free space per block (the Shoup criteria)
  • Any block with mixed use should have one spot per block for bike racks and scooter parking, and one spot for ride-hailing and delivery use. These spots could be in the space daylighted by red curbs for crosswalk visibility.
  • The fees paid for by residents for parking permits should be sharply increased so that they more closely reflect the cost to the city of providing car storage space for car-owning residents.
  • The income from all new parking fee areas should go into a fund to be spent on the neighborhood that generated it, to enhance livability. It should not go into the general fund, and not be used to bond against. (again, the Shoup criteria)

Free and underpriced parking is one of the largest subsidies the city provides to car owners, but everyone who doesn’t own a car or has on-property parking pays for the subsidy. Which is not fair, and which encourages car ownership and car use.

I’m not suggested we get rid of on-street parking, it is a good use for some of the space we’ve set aside for it, but we do need to manage it more intentionally for the benefit of everyone and all modes of transportation, and charge for what it really costs.

Much more could be said, but that is enough for today.

Hansen’s community meeting on parking

timed parking and residential permit
timed parking and residential permit

On August 12, Steve Hansen sponsored a community meeting on parking issues. This is a report and reaction. The meeting was actually quite civil, not often the case when neighborhood people get involved in issues. There was clapping for things they liked but no booing and no angry outbursts.

Matt Eierman, parking manager for the City of Sacramento, presented on the current proposals and a bit about future ideas, what the city is calling “parking modernization.” He addressed concern that there would not be enough parking for the arena by showing a map of downtown parking spaces overlaid with walking distance at the Sleep Train Arena (ARCO), with sufficient parking available.

Eierman claimed that credit card fees at parking meters cannot legally be charged back to the credit card holder, however, San Francisco and many cities outside California are doing just that.

Eierman said dismissively that he hates the idea of “dynamic” parking fees, the idea that parking rates would change with location, time of day or day of week. He said “no wants to drive up to a meter and not know how much it is going to cost.” This is an absurd statement, and I’ll provide an analogy. Would a person say they are never going to buy apples at the store again because they don’t know ahead of time whether they are $0.89 or $1.19 this week? Of course not, people make decisions based on changing information, and parking is no different. With a smart phone, the person would know the fee even before pulling into the space.

The two things being proposed to go the the city council in the near future are:

  1. An increase in the parking rate from $1.25 per hour to $1.75 per hour, at all on-street metered parking in the central city. The city pointed out that fees have not increased in some time, though costs have gone up, and that an increase for on-street parking would shift longer term parking off the streets and to city parking garages and lots, some of which are very underutilized.
  2. A SPOTZone (Special Parking Over Time) pilot in Old Sacramento and one location in midtown that would allow people to pay for time beyond the set time limit, at a higher price. The pricing would discourage long term parking, causing more spaces to be open, but through payment mechanisms (smart meters and smart phone payment) would reduce the number of parking citations.

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