Dear Editor – Details and Difficulties in the Walker Parking Study

In September 2008 the Los Angeles Times reported that Scott Malsin, who was Mayor at the time, said that Culver City was commissioning a study of how parking is used and managed downtown. It was going to be done for between $50,000 and $90,000. Karen Kurokawa who leads the Gateway Neighborhood Assn., was reported to be going to watch to see what the city parking study said in relationship to residential street parking.

In January 2009 the Culver City Redevelopment Agency advertised for a Request for Proposals for Parking Consulting Services for a Comprehensive Downtown Parking Study.

On February 17, 2009 the Agency Board approved an $166,100 agreement with Walker Parking Consultants to study parking resources in Downtown Culver City and provide recommendations for improvement where needed. The scope of work for the Study was developed with input from the Advisory Committee on Redevelopment (ACOR) and the Downtown Business Association (DBA) to ensure the Study addressed their concerns. The scope of work for the study did not include the concerns of the Downtown Residential Neighbor. Therefore intrusion parking into the residential neighborhood was never studied. No study was ever done to see were employees parked.

Walker Parking Consultants delivered the $166,100 comprehensive parking study for Downtown Culver to the Redevelopment Agency in June 2010. The Walker Parking Consultants 161 page report recommendations were based on their expertise. Walker Parking Consultants also follow the principals published by Donald Shoup, UCLA Professor of Urban Planning. Shoup literally wrote the book on parking. “The High Cost of Free Parking” is a 734 page book based on parking studies throughout the world. Consulting Firms and people who follow his principals are call “Shoupistas”. “Charge fair market prices for curb parking” is one of Donald Shoup’s 3 basic principals to “undo the damage wrought by cities disastrous parking policies”.

The Walker Parking Consultants parking study showed that at the peak time, on a typical Friday at 9PM, that the majority of streets that had free meter parking were 100% full while the large 801 car Ince Parking Structure(City has 3 structures with a total of over 1,523 spaces) was only 43% full. Even with the first 2 hours free and $1 per hour up to $8 max. On Sunday’s the study showed that the majority of streets that had free street meters were 100% occupied. Some street had a few spots which made a 95% total occupancy for the 160 total metered spaces. Meanwhile the Ince Parking Structure was only 34% full. Metered occupancy should be 85% peak-period occupancy to allow short term parkers to easily find parking.

The parking meter was invented in Oklahoma City in the 1930’s. It was the idea of a member of the Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce. The reason was to create short term vehicle turn over instead of allowing cars to hog parking spots all day. To quote the Walker Parking Study for Culver City, “By definition the short-term parker is nearly always a visitor or customer while the long-term parker is a business owner or employee. Convenience is usually at a premium for these parkers. While both long-term and short-term parkers are happy to park in an on-street space in front of a business, the availability of the on-street space for the quick turnaround customer may make the difference between whether or not they visit a business on a daily or regular basis. This is not the case for long-term parkers.”

In Culver City a person who wants short-term parking can not get CONVENIENT meter parking because employees and patrons hog the free meter parking space after 6PM.

Bars close at 2AM. Santa Monica’s meters near bars are currently active until 2AM per Walker’s Santa Monica June 2009 Parking Study(page 39). Walker Parking Consultants did not recommend changing that for Santa Monica. Walker could have recommended that Culver City’s parking meters be in effect until 2AM. They recommended 11PM.

Culver City Council voted Monday to have meters active until 11PM for the entire week. Culver City perk… 11PM is a 50% increase in meter time. Was 10 hours per day. Now 15 hours per day. Also 15 hours of new revenue on Sunday.

The City Council also voted to increase the meter rates by 50%. The last rate increase was an 100% increase in December 2009, for the whole City. In 2009 Parking Meters were 50 cents per hour. By 2010 meter rates were raised to $1 per hour in the whole City. In 2012 they will $1.50 per hour in the Downtown Commercial Zone only. “Charge fair market prices for curb parking” is one of Donald Shoup’s 3 basic principals. The theory is that pricing will motivate people to use one of the over 400 empty parking spaces in the Ince Parking Structure and leave the more expensive(per hour) meters open for quick turn over and convenient parking for short term parkers. The revenue projections will more then double from just the existing meters. The 2009/2010(Study Period) projected fiscal years income was $253,270. The new Culver City Parking Authority Board(City Council wearing a new hat created this month) approved hours and rates will more then double revenue. The change has projected revenue increases of $297,593 for a projected new projection of $550,863 which goes into the General Fund. Commercial un-metered spots are also scheduled to be metered in the near future.

The City Council did turn down Walker Parking Consultants recommendation of tiered meter parking because they did not want to buy new parking meters and install sensors in the street. Also one Council Member wanted the 2 hour turn over at meters and felt charging higher rates past 2 hours would not be effective. Got to hand it to him that he wanted turn over and was not blinded by dollar signs! The problem is enforcement of the posted limit to create turn over. I will fully explain the reason why in a future letter.

One loophole overlooked by everyone is that after 6PM yellow curb loading zones are unrestricted free parking. Those will be the last free commercial zone parking spots. They will fill up first. The problem is that the 20 minute restricted parking is still needed after 6PM. Cars take up the free parking. Downtown restaurants and bars still get deliveries after 6PM. Delivery trucks then double park causing dangerous conditions. Double parking warrants a parking ticket and is a traffic hazard. Cars are often forced to drive on the wrong side of the road to go around double parked vehicles. This risks head on collisions with on coming cars driving around blind corners. Yellow curbs need to be in effect at the very least the same hours as the meters. How do you easily enforce it? San Francisco have yellow colored meters at yellow curbs. Instead of charging the quarter per 10 minutes of the new Downtown Culver City rate, the meter could be a quarter for the full 20 minute yellow curb loading zone time.

Cary Anderson

www.culvercitysymphony.org

1 Comment

  1. The problem with the big parking structures is that getting out of them is such a pain after a movie, when too many people are trying to get out of too few exits.

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