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Commentary: A look at the parking management review

January 17, 2013|By Norm Grossman

Not another parking study!

That was the general reaction two years ago when the City Council approved a Planning Commission request to conduct a parking management review for the downtown and Laguna Canyon Road. The subsequent effort is now in the final stages, with results expected by spring. I want to take this opportunity to answer some common questions regarding this project.

So, why is the city doing another parking study?

The current effort is not a parking study, but a parking analysis intended to maximize usage of existing parking. The city has enough studies; eight surveys and parking assessments have been conducted since 1989. We know how many spaces are available, how they are utilized and when shortages occur. This effort is intended to examine methods that allow optimum usage of our current resources and to suggest the direction for future efforts to increase the supply of parking.

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Why not just add more spaces?

This is a solution that is being considered, but a key question is how many. Parking spaces are expensive, from $20,000 to $40,000 each, depending on the number and their location. The current effort will go a long way to identifying how many spaces are needed.

But isn't parking always in short supply?

Laguna Beach faces an unusual predicament with regard to parking — not enough during the summer festival season and on some sunny weekends, plenty to go around the rest of the year. A key factor is finding the optimum balance between these two situations.

What are some of the parking management techniques being considered?

Parking theories and methods have changed dramatically in the past decade. Gone are simple parking meters that required a pound of quarters. The introduction of smart parking meters has allowed many more innovative techniques to be used. The meters now used in the downtown have already been upgraded to allow for the use of credit cards, but this may be only the beginning. In many cities, meters inform users when their time is about to expire via cellphone and allow for remotely extending the time. Another popular use is for meters to be programmed to reflect demand-base pricing.

Demand-base pricing?

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