Tiny Nevada City in the Sierra Nevada foothills of California is raising onstreet parking rates. The 3000 population city is unabashedly looking to increase revenues and dare we say it, decrease cruising. It’s city council also seems to realize that low parking rates lead to merchant employees feeding meters and taking space from people who want to spend money with their employers.
These are smart people. The city’s mayor, Reinette Senum, has written a piece in a local on line publication which clearly and succinctly outlines just why increasing parking fees will benefit the small city. It’s linked over at parknews.biz.
The heart of her article is right out of Shoup 101. Raise fees to free up parking space so people can find parking quickly. This will cut down on cruising and increase the volume of dollars spent in local merchants. She notes that a parking space used by potential customers generates between $46,000 and $93,600 per year in revenues for merchants in the downtown area. People who park, spend money.
That means the merchants will be more prosperous AND the city will have increased sales tax revenues to be used for important projects. Some critical to the survival of the city. Here is what she had to say in part:
The strategy behind healthy parking policy is to improve performance in three different ways. First, curb parking will perform more efficiently if all but one or two parking spaces are available on every block ensuring parking will remain readily available for drivers who want to park. Second, the overall transportation system within downtown will perform much more efficiently because cruising for parking will greatly decline thus reducing congestion, pollution, fuel consumption, and visitors’ loss of time. Third, downtown retailers will see an increase in their business because they are not losing customers that ultimately leave in frustration and take their business elsewhere.
Her fellow council members point out that the increase in revenue will allow them to remove low level brush in forest areas around Nevada City and help mitigate fire danger that destroyed nearby Paradise during the 2018 fire season. It will also enable Nevada City to cover the costs of parking enforcement which they do not do today.
Senum and the city council of Nevada City prove that you don’t’ have to be a megalopolis to be thinking about parking policy. I wonder if having people like this in your city government isn’t really what “Smart City” is all about.