From The Freedom to Park committee, FreedomToPark.org
While tabling for free parking at the Farmers Market, we have encountered very few advocates of “paid parking.” We find that many casual paid parking supporters, upon consideration of all facts, will reconsider or at least support putting the issue to public vote. There are some extremists who assert there should be no vehicles or vehicle parking in the downtown, not even for frail, elderly or handicapped individuals. But most people accept the existence of automobiles and realize that even electric cars must park.
This space is too brief to answer every question or assertion that we have heard, but we will address the most common. For additional examples, we refer you to our website: freedomtopark.org.
First, the initiative prohibits the charging of a fee for the public parking that is already provided by our tax dollars. It does not change standard parking regulations; it does not change the parking time limits; it does not change the city parking permit program. Second, the initiative requires the replacement of the 120 parking spaces that the City has already removed from the downtown. These spaces can easily be replaced by turning parallel spaces into perpendicular or slant parking spaces, for example.
Paid parking will discourage the use of automobiles.
No, paid parking will discourage the use of paid parking spaces. It does not discourage vehicle use, and those relying on vehicles will likely drive somewhere else to spend their money.
Don’t you want to encourage bicycle and pedestrian transit?
Yes, but not by sacrificing other modes of transit. Public policy should accommodate all modes of transit and provide incentives that make vehicle alternatives less costly and more convenient: subsidizing public transit, providing better bus routing and scheduling, shifting to a land use model that accommodates multimodal transit.
Paid parking will reduce the number of vehicles circling the downtown looking for a parking space.
The city is planning to phase in paid public parking: first for public parking lots, then for on-street parking. Those who are unable or unwilling to pay for a parking space will circle the streets searching for a free space, or they will drive somewhere else. So, contrary to the assertions by city staff, the proposed policy will actually increase the number and duration of vehicles circling our downtown streets. It will also increase the number of customers choosing to shop somewhere other than downtown Davis.
Money from paid parking can be used to beautify the downtown with more benches, planters and flowers, and bicycle racks.
The City has asserted that the paid parking program will be revenue neutral, hence there will be no additional funds to pay for such amenities. Nevertheless, beautifying the downtown is a separate issue, and if the community believes this worthwhile, then it should be funded regardless of the parking issue.
Why place such severe restrictions on City options for “managing” downtown parking?
The initiative is not severe and it does not create restrictions. The initiative merely sets a minimum baseline for free public parking downtown. That’s where management begins, not by simply substituting the word “pricing” for the word management. Pricing doesn’t manage a resource; it merely allocates that resource based on an ability or willingness to pay.