New! Update: The City Council vote on this parking study was December 11th. Our council members Jeannine Pearce and Lena Gonzolez voted to approve ending the study despite being informed that the city had refused to include a review of the downtown parking requirements and other essential information and solutions, some of which could pay for themselves.
The City had signed a settlement agreeing to include that review and info but wouldn't honor that agreement. Our attorney's letter about the City's obligation to review Downtown's requirements is here. The parking study firm KOA told us multiple times including in April 2018, "..We have been reviewing and conducting needed research regarding parking requirements..." We asked them many times after that to include it because without it, their conclusions were not based on reality. The City did not include this review in the Final Draft of the study. We did confirm through city staff that there was no previous data or evaluation to support lowering the parking requirements in new buildings to 1 space per unit! And now they have refused to include that evaluation again.
Then the City lied to the public about the results of the study when it said, "KOA found no evidence that new development in Downtown has triggered any parking shortage, or that there is need to reconsider parking requirements for new development." That statement is not true nor does the parking study data support it.
TAPS' November 30th summary of the parking study:
One way or another, this parking study will be over soon along with the good that it could have done for us. While the parking study only covers downtown and Alamitos Beach, our work could help parking in other areas, too. All of Long Beach will soon be affected by the City's parking policies. Our goal has been to get the City to start basing parking policies on data and reality rather than theory.
Will the parking study help make parking easier for us?
That's the question we hear most often. The answer is probably not. We've always known that the City could just toss this study aside and choose not to do anything. This is worse than that.
We were very impressed and appreciative of the good work from KOA and City reps, especially at first. They had thorough, creative, open and honest discussions on multiple fronts. At some point something changed, especially on the subject of the Downtown parking regulations. When Draft 2 came out, it looked like big holes had been punched in the study.
This is not just our opinion but also that of our parking consultant Mike Kodama:
The conclusions and recommendations in this study are simple but they should be much more complex. There are a lot of little things that can be done but were not recommended. There is a parking problem despite what staff told City Council in their report. It is complicated and they need help. There is a need to work with Planning Commission and City Council.
In Mike Kodama's summary memo on the parking study, he points out how some of their key conclusions are not backed by analysis and that key things are missing to make their recommendations work.
What we know tells us that the plan in this study will only be marginally and temporarily successful.
This study relies entirely on parking management to solve parking issues without 4 key needs to accomplish that:
1. Parking Management – The study does not specifically recommend a parking manager. The study finally added some information describing how parking management is currently spread over multiple departments and telling the City how to go about hiring management should they decide to do so. The City has refused to consider doing that when we've asked multiple times. The City needs to hire a parking consultant to organize and implement programs plus a full time professionally-trained parking manager to continuously manage the parking issues.
2. Parking Plan – No Plan was recommended. The existing Downtown Plan considers visitor parking, not parking for residents and employees. The area needs a comprehensive Parking Plan that is balanced to include the needs of businesses, residents, and employees.
The Plan should include residential permits. Draft 2 left it entirely up to residential groups to do the work to qualify for permits and fund the implementation efforts. Or they could start an assessment district and hire management themselves. The final draft said the city will assist residents in this effort but it didn't mention that there are other ways for cities to implement permits without residential efforts.
3. Parking for new developments - The photo is clear evidence that The Current was not built with enough parking because of the City's lowered parking standards. Its residents who couldn't get a parking space inside of the building needed to park in this lot and in the neighborhood. This lot has recently closed as another new building begins construction.
The staff report for this study tells City Council that, "KOA found no evidence that new development in Downtown has triggered any parking shortage, or that there is need to reconsider parking requirements for new development." At the beginning of the study and multiple times later, we showed KOA and city staff evidence like this overflow parking lot and our map of parking lots that were lost to developments. If KOA found no evidence, it's because they didn't look. The city wants you to believe that KOA didn't think it was necessary to collect data or look at the Census or determine how many new residents will need those parking structures or look at what's happening in the new buildings. (More likely, the city told them not to include evidence. We had conversations during the first half of the study that indicated they did see an issue with adding homes with only one parking space per unit.)
There has never been an evaluation as to how much parking is needed in the new buildings for Downtown, not before they lowered the parking requirements in 2012 and not in this study despite the fact that the work scope requires it. The City has 2 options to make sure the new buildings have enough parking for its residents, employees, and businesses. It can base parking requirements on data that shows how much parking will be needed. Alternately, if the city does not want to require developers to provide parking, then the City must have a plan to park those people, monitoring and managing that parking.
4. Funding - While this study mentions revenue streams, the study did not evaluate new revenue streams from parking (including residential permits) and did not recommend the creation of a funding plan to add parking. Options besides big parking structures are available like automated parking, loan programs, and partnering with developers.
Here is an example from the Seattle parking study showing how an evaluation of parking revenue could help. Such a tool could be used to plan for parking improvements, assuming there is a plan in place to set aside at least new revenue streams to fund improvements. Currently the City is putting the parking ticket and meter revenue into the General Fund.
What did they conclude?
The Downtown Area
The study shows an aggregate number of parking spaces that they say is available to the public downtown. The study uses this count to conclude that there is plenty of parking for everyone if only people used the off-street parking. However, many of the spaces in this count are reserved spaces or don’t allow public use or the lot will close for development very soon. There needs to be more work to look at blocks and parking problem areas within the study area.
While TAPS agrees that some of the techniques will help get people to park in the existing off-street facilities, we cannot support the core of these conclusions.
One problematic solution is that this study says to move all those people without parking (which is most of downtown) to parking structures that cost too much or that are long distances from their homes every time they drive. Most people who know about these lots and garages already refuse to do that for various reasons including including cost, convenience, location and safety.
This draft study seems to rely too heavily on enforcement to solve this problem. At the same time, the city has increased parking fines in order to pay retirement costs. At the same time, the City is actively making it more difficult to avoid parking tickets by adding large buildings without enough parking to these areas that are far from those off-street parking facilities. At the same time, this plan depends on those parking structures to also park the spillover from all of the new developments that are already going up near those structures. Even the study’s short-term recommendations do not take these developments into account.
Alamitos Beach area
The study findings say, “Supply constraints within Alamitos Beach indicate the need for better parking alternatives and options”, yet recommendations were limited to the things that the City has already been willing to do.
The review of the potential lots in the neighborhood shows that even if these spaces were available, they won't add enough spaces for the Alamitos Beach neighborhood. Recommendations need to include city staff help to plan and implement parking programs as well as monitor progress and find ways to increase parking supply for our neighborhood. The answer is not just to increase parking enforcement because there is not enough parking.
Another difficult issue is that the initial study suggests that we solve our own problem. Using using unpaid, untrained neighborhood associations to find and contract private parking lots for public use is an option that is highly unlikely to happen. It relies on residents starting a parking assessment district to get funding so they can hire a parking manager themselves...
While the Final Draft added language saying, "The City will assist throughout this process in collaboration with property owners and neighborhood associations..." It still doesn't mention that there are other ways to accomplish the parking programs without making residents establish a preferential parking district themselves. Options/opportunities should be presented. The City's current policy of Preferential Parking District isn't the only way to create parking permits. The City can use this parking study to begin creating a permit program without making the residents go through this procedure.
The main content of the parking study can be found here. We removed hundreds of pages of data, maps, and the parking survey from this version so you could easily find the essentials.
The full version of the study's report (over 860 pages) can be found here:
New City Council hearing date - December 11th.
The first hearing date was October 23rd but our attorney asked for a postponement because the City did not provide us enough notice to comply with our settlement. We didn't get notice that it was postponed until after the meeting started.
The next hearing date was December 4th but the City postponed it due to a heavy end of year schedule.
Your voice is needed!
After 5 long years of working on this, we are still trying. Speak up before the December 11th City Council hearing. Pass this around as much as you can until then.
Email all City Council members because every vote is needed.
This is the most effective way to get them to listen.
Your subject line should say Parking Study.
Send your letter to all of these addresses:
Mayor@longbeach.gov, District1@longbeach.gov, District2@longbeach.gov,
District3@longbeach.gov, District4@longbeach.gov, District5@longbeach.gov,
District7@longbeach.gov, District8@longbeach.gov, District9@longbeach.gov
Anything you say in your email is fine but keep it concise.
Please ask our city leaders to not waste this opportunity. Considering the lack of data, evaluation, and potential solutions that this study contains, it very much appears that without some changes soon, it will be back to business as usual when it comes to our city's efforts regarding parking.