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Draft 2 of the Parking Study is missing data and solutions

Background: After a few years of trying to get the City of Long Beach to look at solutions to our parking issues, our lawsuits resulted in the City hiring KOA to do a solution-oriented parking study of Downtown and Alamitos Beach. We have been working together to see if we can reduce the parking problem.

The Parking Study's Draft 2 is out.

KOA and the City's team did a good job collecting the data and info for the most part. We saw some good things – yet we believe more can be done to create a successful parking program. We saw some things missing that we feel are key to the success of any parking improvements. You can see part of our summary below. Keep in mind that we also submitted a detailed evaluation.

One big missing thing was that we did not see a future parking analysis and an evaluation to determine how much parking those huge new buildings will need. Many huge buildings are nearing completion without enough parking because parking requirements were lowered to one space per unit in 2012 without basing those requirements on how much parking is actually needed for projects under construction and in the planning stage. The parking study's conclusions can't be accurate without considering that major factor. We've asked for this evaluation multiple times since the study began over a year ago. Our lawyer wrote a letter months ago because leaving this evaluation out is contrary to the requirements of our settlement.

This is part of TAPS' summary of Draft 2: The basic problems with Draft 2 of the parking study

Both areas – what’s needed

What we know tells us that the plan in this study will only be marginally and temporarily successful.

This draft study relies entirely on parking management to solve parking issues without 4 key needs to accomplish that:

1. Parking Management – The City needs to hire a parking consultant to organize and implement programs plus a full time professionally-trained parking manager to continue this work.

2. Parking Plan – 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. Options besides using a version of the City’s current Preferential Parking program should be explored; a version of that existing Preferential Parking might not be the best option for this type of area.

3. Parking for new developments - 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 (this wasn’t done for Downtown). 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 - Evaluate new revenue streams from parking (including residential permits). Create a funding plan to add parking. Options besides big parking structures are available like automated parking, loan programs, and partnering with developers.

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. No one likes to get parking tickets. 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 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... We really need a better approach and can use city leadership to help us. It is a problem that can only be addressed by a partnership of the city, residents and local businesses. We need leadership and help from the city to lead this effort.

Will they make changes? We have shared our thoughts with the consultants and city staff. We hope that they include it in the next version of the study and we get a chance to help them improve and refine the study. Stay tuned.

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