San Juan Bautista plans to explore strategies to deal with parking issues in its historic downtown. City Manager Don Reynolds introduced the idea to the Planning Commission on Feb. 4 and said he expects pushback from community members.
The city will explore systems such as limited-time parking, paid parking, and free parking.
Reynolds said a preliminary downtown parking study was conducted in June by Harris and Associates. It lays down three options with costs ranging from $1.1 million to $1.4 million that would establish between 73 and 94 off-street parking spaces in the downtown area. Costs do not include enforcement expenses.
Estimated annual maintenance costs for the three options range from $24,500 to $26,100.
The study also identifies four possible revenue sources: a downtown parking district where tenants purchase a monthly pass, a development impact parking-in-lieu fee, a covered solar parking fee, and metered parking. The study states that as of June, the city’s balance in the Parking and Public Restrooms Fund was $178,000, and the Development Impact Parking-in-lieu Fund was about $11,000.
Installing solar panel-covered parking is not an option because of the San Andreas fault, Reynolds said. Parking lot locations are proposed on the block between Washington, Third, Mariposa and Fourth streets. Another lot option is located on Muckelemi Street.
The study did not include the Mission San Juan Bautista parking lot or the soccer field parking lot owned by the Aromas-San Juan Unified School District, though Reynolds noted he began conversations about sharing facilities with potential partners including schools Superintendent Michele Huntoon.
“I think there is a lot of willingness to participate,” Reynolds said.
Part of the process is creating a business model, he said, because if the city implements a parking system, it would need a part-time code enforcement position. The model would also include a more in-depth study of what option is best for downtown.
In his over 30 years of experience working with downtowns, Reynolds said he has had good and bad experiences with parking systems.
“In 2009 when I proposed paid parking to them and used this wonderful ivy tower example from UCLA I was told to leave town, so I’m not anxious to jump into that right away,” Reynolds said jokingly.
He added that he called different organizations in the community to get input about paid parking. There would be a lot of leg work and effort to get everybody on board with a parking system, Reynolds said, requiring as many as 15 community meetings to inform residents about the strategy.
“It’s emotional, volatile,” Reynolds said. “Everybody needs to be on board.”
The three planning commissioners present, Scott Freels, David Medeiros, and Yolanda Delgado, supported implementing a parking system.
“There might be some tough nuts to crack on a few of these, but I think we can figure something out,” Freels said.