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Frustration Over Paid Parking Expansions

Paid-parkingNew citizen initiative filed in response

Frustrated by City Hall's insistence on paid parking expansions despite massive popular resistance, friends of downtown and concerned Davisites have filed a citizen's initiative to go on the March 2020 ballot. The proponents of record are Daniel Urazandi and Robert Milbrodt although many people have been involved in drafting the initiative. To become involved yourself come to a campaign organizing meeting at Steve's Pizza 6PM on Thurs June 20.

Public notice from the proponents:

Why an initiative?

Because the city has been slowly eroding parking spaces and eliminating all free parking without regard to the harm this does to downtown, we can't trust them to do anything other than more of the same. Asking and informing hasn't worked, so we are going to tell them what downtown wants and needs, namely more parking spaces and no parking meters.

What does it do?

Our Freedom To Park Ordinance will ban paid parking in every public space. The only exception is that should the city build a new parking structure to increase supply, they could charge for spaces in that structure. It also sets a baseline and increases the number of parking spaces downtown-- we get around 120 more auto spaces and around 250 more bicycle parking spaces within a year (numbers are estimates as the city has repeatedly refused to confirm the exact numbers of spaces downtown). Our slogan: Free Parking, More Spaces.

Where are those spaces coming from?

The city removed over 100 spaces thus creating the parking shortage. We are just making them put them back. Now by law they will have to do what they should have done in the first place with any scarce and valuable public commodity--maximize it through efficiency, protect it going forward, and neither waste or tax it.

Will it pass?

If it gets on the ballot it should be a sure thing. How many people are going to vote for parking meters or say no to free parking? But to get it on the ballot we need over 4,000 signatures and the means to gather them. So come to our ORGANIZATIONAL MEETING 6/20 6PM AT STEVE'S PIZZA where we will answer questions and design the campaign that will solve the parking problem and end the threat of parking meters once and for all.

The text of the initiative as designed by our team and legal counsel and filed with the city clerk on 6/17 follows:


Notice is hereby given by the persons whose names appear hereon that they intend to circulate an Initiative Petition within the City of Davis for the purpose to amend the Municipal Code to establish a limited FREE PARKING ZONE to PROHIBIT PARKING METERS and other Pay by Space Machines and Devices, and to Increase Free Automobile and Bicycle Parking in the Downtown Area as defined.
A statement of the reasons of the proposed action as contemplated in the petition is as follows:

In keeping with Davis' character, people should be able to park temporarily for shopping, eating, entertainment, to attend Farmer's Market, or just to enjoy being in town without being charged a tax or fee. However, City Hall has eroded free parking spaces and is using the resultant parking shortage to continuously expand paid parking in the downtown area. The city obviously intends to make all downtown parking paid piecemeal and may continue its expansion of parking meters into residential neighborhoods in the process. This ordinance prevents such malignant growth and protects all of Davis from paid parking. It also increases the number of public parking spaces downtown for both autos and bicycles. Paid public parking will only be allowed in new parking structures to be constructed outside the free parking zone in the event that the city needs the revenue to further expand parking supply.


Section 1. This ordinance may be referred to as the Freedom to Park Ordinance.
Section 2. Article 22.08 of Chapter 22 of the Davis Municipal Code is amended by adding the following provisions:
22.08.452. No Parking Meter, or any other Pay for Parking Space machine or device, shall be installed or operated on any public street, or within any public parking lot or public parking structure within the City of Davis, excepting public parking structures constructed and operated outside of the defined limits of the Downtown Area.
22.08.455. The City of Davis shall provide and maintain in the Downtown Area no fewer than 1888 automobile parking spaces and no fewer than 1888 bicycle parking spaces within one year of the adoption of this ordinance. Bicycle parking shall not occupy spaces that could be used as auto parking. Spaces reserved for the disabled and privately owned spaces shall not be included in these counts.

22.08.451. The Downtown Area shall be defined as the area bounded by and including Fifth Street to the North; First Street to the South; B Street to the West; the Railroad Tracks to the East, and all publicly owned and controlled lots accessed from that area.
Section 3. Article 22.08.450 is amended to delete and repeal the following language: "The following parking lot is hereby designated as a parking meter zone: City Parking Lot located at 221 F Street, also known as the "E Street Plaza Parking Lot." .

Section 4. The provisions of this ordinance are severable. If any portion of this ordinance is declared by a court to be invalid, such declaration shall not affect any other portion of this ordinance.



Sounds like a winner. The city went against the will of the people and the people will overturn the decision.

Todd Edelman

re: "Paid public parking will only be allowed in new parking structures to be constructed outside the free parking zone in the event that the city needs the revenue to further expand parking supply."

A new parking structure might cost $30,000 to 60,000 per space. Where the money will come from to build it is one thing, but then after that any fees from fee'd parking here - why anyone would pay a fee to park here when there's no such thing on Downtown streets is of course another question - would normally be used to pay off the cost of building the structure. Given that this place would likely have low usage similar to 4th St. in the proposed new paradigm with even more un-fee'd parking Downtown than now, it may bring in a one or two dollars on average per day, per space. So $1.50 a day would take 20,000 to 40,000 days to pay off... in about 54 to 108 years after construction the place could start generating actual profit for the city, leaving aside the other costs of driving. Revenue seems irrelevant if the City pays for this on its own.

Robert Canning

The effort to remove paid parking from downtown Davis is misguided and if successful will do nothing more than increase congestion and make it less safe for bicyclists and others who share the streets with cars. The opponents of paid parking (mostly downtown business owners) have never provided more than anecdotal data to support their case. Too bad for Davis if they are successful in cajoling 4,000+ citizens to sign the petition.

The notion that "the people" do not want paid parking, IMO, is a mirage created by long lines of commenters at City Hall and the constant drumbeat of the business owners and others. I suggest all who have an interest in modern urban design and improvement read Donald Shoup's "The Cost of Free Parking" and his new collection of essays (which I have not read yet) "Parking and the City."

Colin Walsh

I see assuring transportation access to downtown stores as a positive for Davis. If we push drivers out of downtown, we will increase their carbon foot print by encouraging drivers to travel to more distant stores. If these shoppers leaving downtown closes downtown stores, then everyone else will be forced to travel further too. Not to mention we will loose more locally owned businesses.

Robert D Canning

Colin, do you assume that correctly managed paid parking will drive away shoppers? If you are making that assumption what evidence so you have to support it?

Paid parking’s intention is simply to more efficiently manage the current resource we have. Take a look at Redwood City and how they manage paid parking. And in Davis, the data collected suggests that correctly managed parking will decrease the churn of people looking for spots and this free up space.

Colin Walsh

Paid parking need only deter a small number of shoppers to cross a tipping point and doom our local businesses many of which are already operating on thin margins.

I am familiar with the argument that paid parking will manage existing parking supply. I am going to listen to the store owners on this one. They are talking to their customers and they are hearing it will affect their businesses.

I actually have spent a good amount of time in Redwood City recently and I do not think their downtown is an example Davis should follow. If form based code is implemented in Davis like it was there it will be disastrous for Old East. Interestingly, the paid parking I saw there allowed for something like 12 hour parking. I was parking for 9 hours at a time myself. That seems like the opposite of managing parking.

I was visiting the Yolo Tax Payers Association meeting when Mayor Lee presented on paid parking. Mayor Lee told the YTPA that paid parking is intended to generate a new revenue stream for the City that the City could borrow against in the future. As we have seen in recent months, our local businesses are struggling, I do not think the City should look to create a new revenue stream at the expense of our struggling businesses. As I said, it need only discourage a small percentage of shoppers to cross a tipping point and force stores to close.

Todd Edelman

I am sure that a lot more people would go Downtown by bicycle or transit if it was a more unique place, safe for all to get to and be in. To linger with their whole family with virtually zero negative impact to others... and buy stuff.

This Freedom to Park initiative will not allow that to happen.

Bicycle parking is at least twice as space efficient as a full car, four times as half-full car, etc. More people = more money. Perhaps the threatened businesses should be speaking to potential customers as well?

Will the current plan allow the "unique place" thing to happen? Perhaps, but it needs to be re-worked. Re-worked, not tossed out, like a Dutch Bros. coffee cup out the window of an electric car* when no one's looking...

* Actually, my electric car makes coffee for me. It's like a drive thru, but I don't need to interact with anyone at all.

To be fair, I'll admit that much of Davis has - in terms of density and adult mobility except for those cycling to UCD - a more-or-less craptastic suburban thing going on, and responsibly fee'd parking needs strong, complementary measures if we want a unique place.


I don't see the signature threshold as any problem at all. I'm sure the vast majority of Davisites are against paid parking. This initiative should be a slam dunk.

Michael D. Setty

So the Davis "people" want something for nothing. There is no such thing as "free parking," but these people haven't gotten the memo.

The organizers of this shortsighted movement need to read Donald Shoup's "The High Cost of Free Parking" -- a 500+ page tome on the topic -- before doing anything.

Lots of people in Davis also bemoan climate change, but this "grassroots movement" (sic) shows there are many people in super "progressive" Davis who don't want to walk the talk.

Todd Edelman

Keith, all parking is "paid". It's like saying that people think that gravity should naturally be adjusted so that if we fall over we don't get hurt. Or that we should be able to eat without going to the toilet.

We all pay something for parking, directly... and indirectly (because of the driving stimulated by parking availability or perception of same... driving creates pollution and risks injury and death.).

Why should I pay for someone to drive to Downtown when I only cycle there? I do this by paying for their parking. I am already doing it, and only in a few spots do they have pay the govt. to compensate for that, on top of their still grossly low fuel taxes...

So please just say "most people don't want to pay extra for parking and want people to pay for it that don't or rarely use cars".


Right Todd, we all already pay for parking and don't feel we should have to pay more. I don't bike much but we all also pay for bike racks and bike paths too and don't feel we should have to pay more.

Cory T

Ok. So now that the 20th has come and gone. What’s the plan? How do I get my signature on?


With any organization whatsoever getting the signatures should be eazy peazy. The people of Davis don't want paid parking.

James dooly

What makes it unsafe for bicyclists is not cars, it's bicyclists ignoring all rules of the road, riding without lights and running stop signs.

Ron O

Yes - I hope that there's a continuing reporting of this.

At a minimum, I suspect almost everyone agrees that the "compromise" solution makes zero sense. Kind of surprised that someone on the council didn't realize this, before supporting the suggestion at the last minute.

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