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Santa Cruz Public Works Proposes to Increase Downtown Parking Rates in Response to Parking Budget Deficit and Needed Facility Repairs
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Marlin Granlund, Parking Program Manager, (831) 420-5184
Janice Bisgaard, Community Relations Specialist, (831) 420-5166
SANTA CRUZ (July 18, 2014) – In order to maintain Downtown Parking District structures and services, the City of Santa Cruz Public Works Department is recommending an increase in downtown parking fees for both permits and primary rates at meters. The fee increase, necessitated by an eight-year budget deficit and rehabilitation of aging facilities, would only begin after approval by the City Council. Even with these proposed rate increases, the cost to park in downtown Santa Cruz would remain less than in neighboring cities.
The Downtown Parking District, managed by the City’s Public Works Department, maintains and operates four parking structures and 16 parking lots. Currently permits at all locations are sold out and there are wait-lists at all facilities.
The District also maintains and operates 823 parking meters, 100 on-demand bike lockers, two sets of public garage restrooms, Pacific Avenue evening garbage and recycling, the sidewalk and alley scrubber program and the visitor restroom program.
In managing these services, the Downtown Parking District has averaged a $200,000 deficit of expenditures over revenue annually during the last eight years totaling over $1.6 million. With the downturn in the economy over the past eight years, the Downtown Parking District absorbed these deficits but can no longer afford to do so. This imbalance stems from the addition of new programs, vacancies in retail and office space and related costs to deferred maintenance on district properties, incentive reductions in the Parking Deficiency Fees to businesses, and improvements to decrease energy costs.
Additionally, the Public Works Department has contracted with Walker Restoration Consultants for an evaluation of both Cedar/Church and River/Front garages. Built in the 1970’s, the top decks of these structures have been displaying extensive water leakage and damage and repair costs are estimated at $1 million each.
The Downtown Parking District budget will require a $600,000 yearly increase over a five-year period to fund these $2 million restoration projects along with funding $1 million in deferred and on-going maintenance on other district properties.
To meet these expenses, the Public Works Department, working with an ad hoc committee of the Downtown Commission, is recommending changes to downtown parking rates. The suggested changes include increased fees for parking meters, increase and standardization of permit rates for all off-street locations, construction permits, annual service vehicle permits, and conversion of two small parking lots from free to paid parking.
The proposed rate increases are as follows:
· Convert all meters on Pacific Avenue and side streets for one block to a variable rate that is $1 per hour for the first two hours and $2 for each additional hour.
· Convert all other two-hour variable rate meters to a rate that is $.75 per hour for the first two hours and $1.50 per hour for each additional hour.
· Convert all twelve-hour meters from $.25 per hour to a rate that is $.50 per hour.
· Install paid parking at Lots 8 (Pearl Alley) and Lot 9 (Elm/Cedar) to match the rates at other paid surface lots: $.50 per hour and $5 all day.
· Standardize all parking permit rates downtown that would increase monthly rates from the existing $20, $25 and $31 to $35 with $2 per year increases to a maximum of $45 per month.
· Increase construction permits from $2 per day and $40 per month to $5 per day and $75 per month.
· Increase annual service vehicle permits by $50 each year for three years.
Although a variable parking rate was instituted in 2011 to increase turnover without having to use time limits, the last time the primary meter rates were increased in the Downtown Parking District was 1993. Parking meter rates will still be less than those in Monterey, Capitola, San Jose and Berkeley.
Parking permit rate increases in some downtown lots were last raised in 1995 and others in 2000. The River/Front garage permits were increased in 2013 to equal the permits of the other garages with the conversion of the structure to a paid-parking facility. Parking permit rates will continue to be less expensive than those in Monterey, San Jose, Salinas and Palo Alto.
Construction and service vehicle permit rates have not been increased since 1988.
The proposed Downtown Parking District rate changes will be presented at the Downtown Commission meeting on Thursday, July 24, at 8:30 a.m. in the City Council Chambers, 809 Center Street, Santa Cruz. If approved by the Downtown Commission, the proposal will brought to the City Council for consideration in September.
About the City of Santa Cruz Public Works Department
The Public Works Department provides the City of Santa Cruz with a variety of services including engineering design, traffic engineering and maintenance, storm water management, street maintenance, resource recovery management, waste reduction programs, wastewater management, flood control and parking control. The Public Works Department is committed to bringing the Santa Cruz community the highest possible quality of life.