Santa Monica Takes a Close Look at Parking

Sep 17, 2009 by Lisa Newton

A few days ago, Santa Monica’s City Council surprised many people by voting to not build any new parking spaces. Instead they want to better utilize existing parking facilities. By doing so, the local government is promising that there won’t be a shortage of parking in downtown Santa Monica, but a better use of the current parking available. Typically, Travelin’ Local doesn’t cover “news” per se, but in this case, the “greenness” of this story has propelled our interest for coverage.

In fact, the good news continues. Santa Monica will also be increasing its parking rates, or in layman’s terms—it’s efficiency ratios.

The City of Santa Monica Parking Rates

The city’s decision was the result of a recent study that was completed by Walker Parking Consultants.

Important findings which made an impact on the city’s vote from the study include the following:

Because a significant number of the total number of available spaces remained empty during peak hours of operation, the logic started to take hold that in order to increase competition due to the under-market rates that are prevalent at the more conveniently located and cheaper public structures on Second and Fourth streets–where the price of parking in those are substantially under market–it forces visitors to compete for those spots, thereby leaving less utilized spaces empty. The end result is that the more expensive spaces at the private garages and public structures that are on the outskirts of Downtown, including the Santa Monica Public Library and Civic Center, remain empty. Source: The Santa Monica Daily Press.

Rate Changes

The daily maximum rate will increase from $7.00 to $9.00, the evening rate from $3.00 to $5.00, and the monthly parking permits will now increase from $82.50 to a cost of $121.00. With this new cost structure, the city’s leaders have made the decision that by changing the parking rates, people can still enjoy a full day’s activity in Santa Monica, without “breaking the bank.” Additionally, the parking meter rates will increase from $1.00 per hour to $1.50 per hour.

Recommendations from the Walker Parking Consultants study:

  • Use increased parking revenues to fund additional programs to support employee access to Downtown by transit, bicycle and carpooling;
  • Use increased parking revenues to support shuttle service to outlying parking resources, including the Civic Center Parking Structure during parking structure reconstruction;
  • Use parking revenues to enhance parking operations, parking technology, way-finding, parking occupancy assessment, and capital replacement and repair;
  • Implement a centralized valet operation to access private parking spaces during off-peak periods, supplemented by agreements with office building owners to make empty spaces available to the public on evenings and weekends; and
  • Regularly review parking occupancies and adjust parking rates to encourage optimal use of public parking resources. Source: Santa Monica Government

Mode of Transporation in Santa Monica

Another huge upside to this gentle step-up –an increase in parking prices – is that the higher parking rates will force people to examine alternative modes of transportation, beyond their automobiles. Those include increased usage of bikes, mass transit, and walking.

75% of the current car commuters to Santa Monica are single passenger

In fact, according to a study from UCLA, as parking rates increase, the number of single drivers decreases.

Effect of Daily Parking Cost of Mode Choice

So with a nudge meant for a change, as a result of the City of Santa Monica’s decision, try using your bike or using the Metro or Santa Monica’s Big Blue busses when you commute.

After all, it’s green, cheap, relaxing, and just a great way to have a good time while you’re Travelin’ Local.

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Beach Towns, Go Green, Santa Monica

3 Responses to “Santa Monica Takes a Close Look at Parking”

  1. D. Travis North says:

    Good move and good job, Santa Monica. It’s good to hear when politicians are thinking outside of the bureaucracy. Meanwhile, I’m looking at those parking rates and my jaw is dropping to the floor. $9 a day is un-heard of here in Philly. In center-city, you can expect to drop $13-19 for all-day parking. Yet our public transportation is still under-utilized. Sometimes I wish my beloved city had more of a green culture.
    D. Travis North´s last blog ..Look At Me – I Have A Camera! (Pentax K-X Red) My ComLuv Profile


    LisaNewton Reply:

    @D. Travis North, Santa Monica is much cheaper than the surrounding area because they still want the beach tourist traffic, although in some parts of LA, you can still park all day for $7.00-$10.00, which is every inexpensive for a major city.

    However, according to the article I read, some of the parking at a few other shopping centers is much higher. Of course shopping is also one of the reasons to go to Santa Monica.

    Parking is one of those items that really needs to be price compared.


  2. S. Lemmons says:

    Yeah, I can see executives in hard soled shoes and women in dress high heels walking 20 minutes from distant parking to their offices. I can see six figure executives who bill $350 an hour adding an extra 3 hours to their daily commute to ride the bus. I can also see those same executives in their $3,500 Armani suits riding bicycles to work. I hope all of the jobs in Santa Monica pay the $250,000/year+ salaries workers will need to pay for the $3,000 a year in gross salary they will need to pay for parking. Maybe Santa Monica should make an ordinance for a 4-day work week so that workers will have an extra 8 hours a week for their longer commutes. I swear everyone in LA is on crack. They should ask for their money back from that idiot consulting firm. People will just shop online and look for work elsewhere.


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