Bill Fulton, Mayor of Ventura, CA, blogs about his city here. He talks about the new parking program fired up this week in the Southern California beach town. It’s working as advertised. By increasing charges for on street parking, long term parkers (read that store employees) are moving to off street lots and those who want to park on street can now do so.
How does the Mayor know all this? He’s out walking the streets at 10:30 AM, a half hour after the new rules went into effect. He then goes out again at 3PM. He talks to parkers, to merchants, to store employees. His comment:
Anybody’s first impulse, I think, is that paying for parking is a bad thing. But upon reflection, a lot of folks — merchants and shoppers alike — have come around to the idea that it can be a good thing.
Similarly, Main Street merchants have come to see that paid parking can help them too by opening up short-term spaces close to their store. As the owner of Jersey Mike’s told me today, her customers used to have to circle the block three times looking for a space or park in a faraway parking lot. Now they can park right in front of her shop for a quarter — or a dime — or a nickel — while they pick up their order. Because even though it’s $1 for the first hour, you can buy less time with coins. And there’s less traffic on the street because there’s less “cruising” for a parking space.
He’s out at 6 PM –
Some people who grumbled about this idea pointed to the experience this summer at Ventura Harbor: Paid parking was instituted in the prime lot near the Village on weekends. But, the complainers pointed out, the Harbor ended the program early because they didn’t achieve their revenue goals. True enough, but it was a gloomy summer and tourist business was off generally. And what the complainers tend to overlook is the fact that the Harbor actually did meet the parking management goals. Employees and all-day parkers going to the Channel Islands parked elsewhere, freeing up plenty of space for people shopping at the Village. In that sense, it was a success.
I peek into Anacapa Brewing to talk to owner Danny Saldana — and, to my amazement, the place is completely full. Danny is happy with the situation and, like many other downtown business owners, says he is providing one-hour parking coupons to his regular customers for free. It’s well worth it, he says, to keep them coming. I walk back up Oak Street toward the office. The spaces on the street are mostly empty. And the parking lot across from office — usually almost empty by now — is completely full. Eleven hours later and it’s still working.
This guy is smart. He knows that parking is really a street level business. Sitting in one’s office and looking at reports doesn’t tell the tale. You have to go out and look, talk, ask, and see. Then you know what is going on in your garage, lot, or on the streets of your city.