We are getting mixed messages from the media in Ventura, CA, a city an hour North of Los Angeles. A year ago they installed metered parking in an area of the central city that had no meters before. The foes of the project have been vocal. Read about it here.
It appears that this article may be so much media hype. Note that there are only two merchants quoted, and you have to get to the 14th graph of the story to get this quote:
David Armstrong, board chairman of the Downtown Ventura Partners, a business improvement district, said a majority of merchants and property owners support the paid parking program, particularly with the tweaks.
The headline, too, is misleading ‘Parking Meter Changes Fail to Mollify Merchants.” I can understand that, the headline writer didn’t read the article, just the first two paragraphs.
Here is a news release from the Downtown Ventura Partners. I will post it in its entirety since it seems the local press can’t find its way clear to print it:
Downtown Merchants Support the Parking Meters!
Downtown Ventura, May 5, 2011 – The overwhelming consensus downtown is that the
meters are working! Downtown business owners were interviewed and business surveys
were conducted over the past two weeks along Main Street in downtown Ventura. The
downtown merchants gave the managed parking system a thumbs up with 83% surveyed in
support of the meters, 13% neutral, and 4% not in support the meters.
“Ask most downtown owners and they support the meters because they channel those dollars
directly into maintaining a secure and clean downtown. Unfortunately, a select few are
creating a lot of negative noise against what is really a good thing for downtown. We do ask
our customers and I would say 99% are positive about the meters and the overall downtown.”
stated Chuck Menzel, Owner of Wetsand, 446 East Main Street.
Restaurateurs support the meters too. “I like the meters; they’re good for downtown and the
customers love it! I never have any complaints. People like to park close to the restaurant. The
meters have also brought additional security downtown. All great cities have parking meters.
This is a good indication that Ventura’s downtown is growing in the right direction.” stated
Ubaldo Foschoi, Sicily Pizzeria & Trattoria, 563 East Main Street.
The meters provide a managed approach to parking downtown. Employees and merchants
are no longer parking in prime spaces, thereby freeing up these spaces for customers. Now,
shoppers, diners and visitors can quickly find a place to park that’s close to their destination.
Only 318 of the total 2,915 public parking spaces downtown are metered. There are 48 free
green parking stalls conveniently located for quick errands under 24-minutes and 34 free
yellow loading zone spaces to be used for deliveries and pickup of materials and goods (20
In addition, the revenue generated from the meters is being reinvested into the downtown.
The funds help pay for a dedicated police officer and nine police cadets. This has resulted in an
overall decrease in crime by 40% and a 15% decrease in calls for service. Funds are also used
for new improvements like additional lighting for parking lots, new planters and plant
materials, and a cross-the-street banner planned for installation this summer.
Free Wi-Fi is yet another benefit made possible by the meters. Residents and visitors can stay
“connected” through the outdoor network provided by the Downtown Parking Management
The Downtown Parking Management Plan and the Downtown Specific Plan were adopted in
2007 after extensive outreach with the support of the Downtown Ventura
Partners/Organization DVP/DVO, the elected body that represents property owners and
merchants. The DVO/DVP board, made up of 21 downtown business owners and property
owners, voted unanimously at their recent board meeting in support of the meters because of
their positive effect on managing the parking problems as well as funding much-needed
Don Shoup was full of praise to Consultant Nelson Nygaard who authored the parking plan:
Congratulations on the great success of Ventura’s parking benefit district! Using the meter revenue to provide free Wi-Fi for everyone in the district, including all the residents and visitors, is a brilliant way to show the good side of parking meters.
It is interesting that they are promoting the fact that they are using the money for an additional police patrol and free wifi for everyone downtown, but failed to mention the fact that they are also getting good, efficient use of their curb parking.
I would guess that the merchants who complain were probably the same ones that parked in front of their stores all day and took spaces from their customers.