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Freedom to Park Downtown: Questions Answered

FreeparkingFrom 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.

http://www.FreedomToPark.orgFreedomTo Park.org

 

Comments

Eileen Samitz

I completely agree with this initiative. Another consequence of paid parking downtown is that it discourages shoppers from spending their dollars in downtown Davis if customers have to hunt and compete for parking spaces. This in turn hurts the viability of the downtown stores while diminishing needed sales tax dollars revenue for the City.

Ron O

I agree with the points expressed in the article above.

It should be noted that the links (above) to the "Freedom to Park" website are not working properly.

Robert Canning

Eileen, do you have any evidence to back up your contention? This has been a constant refrain from the downtown business owners and others and yet they have not presented a shred of evidence to document this claim. Drivers currently have to "hunt and compete" for spots and spend time driving around looking for spots.

Josh Pollich

By definition nobody who supports paid parking is going to walk up to a table opposing paid parking at the farmers' market. I think you may be drawing false conclusions from your experiences.

Furthermore, your op-ed misstates the purpose of your initiative. Your initiative not merely bans paid parking -- it also requires a certain number (1888) of parking spots downtown, an actual *increase* over the number of parking spots now present. That is to say, your initiative is actually about public land use downtown. Anyone who would prefer bike lanes to parking would do well to oppose this initiative.

Colin Walsh

Josh, I am not part of the group promoting this initiative, but I have been to the market plenty. People like to talk there and exchange ideas. People who don’t agree with each other talk all the time. People approach tables to have conversation and learn more, often even tables they disagree with. That’s how we have good civic dialog. You should try it.

As to the number of spaces, the initiative replaces the spaces that the city removed over the last few years. That’s a restoration not an increase.

All of this takes nothing from bikes and bike lanes. If you want to promote bike lanes promote bike lanes. There is room for both.

Josh Pollich

Not everything is amenable to 90s-style win-win solutions. The publicly-owned roads in Davis are limited in space. I don't possibly see how bike lanes could be installed in the downtown roads without removing something, and I at least would prefer that something be parking.

Certainly I don't want parking to increase over the present status quo, whatever the situation might have been in the past.

Todd Edelman

Colin, saying "there's room for both" is not a planning strategy, it's not even a marketing slogan... it's just an extremely flexible bunch of words. It's like telling people behind the wheel of heavy machines to "try to be nice" or birds to "poop like you care", etc.

These people make a claim about "extremists", which is very Trumpian. Now I know you like to put on your lawyer hat every time someone uses a bad name for someone... but these people did it the blog you co-manage. Why was that allowed?

Anyway, here's some more extremism: https://www.strongtowns.org/journal/2019/11/24/every-city-should-abolish-its-minimum-parking-requirements-has-yours

Colin Walsh

Hi Todd,
Perhaps it would have been better expressed as people with extreme anti car views rather than extremists. Those are certainly views I have heard.
I am going to stick with there is room enough for cars and bikes downtown. What we need is some better vision in our planning that will take bikes cars and public transportation into account.

Josh's statement "Certainly I don't want parking to increase over the present status quo" is a great example of that lack of vision. Personally I want to say way more cars parked at a new train station parking lot while the former I80 drivers take public transportation to work every day reducing green house gas emission and bringing customers to downtown Davis. - Just as one example.

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