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Paid Parking: Business, Residents and City Council Seek More Information

Cautious approach taken at Tuesday night study session on developing paid parking program downtown.

At a special city council meeting last night called to discuss the proposal of paid parking in the downtown area, Half Moon Bay city councilmembers, downtown merchants and residents all appeared to agree that more research and information was needed before moving forward.

Though a $2/hr parking fee 365 days per year between the hours of 9 a.m. and 7 p.m. as a way to generate an estimated $1 million annually — and recoup estimated installation costs of over $600,000 less than a year later — no councilmembers, merchants or residents spoke out in favor of such a configuration.

Currently, there is no fee charged for downtown parking. Saying that the $2/hr proposal seemed to be too high, several in attendance favored a lower hourly rate — perhaps $1/hr to $1.50/hr. Others were interested in shaving an hour from the period when parking fees would be charged so that actual enforcement would take place between 10 a.m. - 6 p.m., rather than the proposed 9 a.m - 7 p.m.

All advised the council to proceed with caution and asked for more information, questioned the impact of paid parking on local businesses, and asked about revenue sources which could be generated from a paid parking program.

"I'm quite skeptical of the initial idea," downtown business owner Charles Nelson said in regards to a $2/hour parking fee.

Nelson said 40 percent of his customers at — an upscale cooking and appliance store on Main St. — were local. Expressing a desire to make it as easy as possible for customers to shop at his store, he advised the council to act cautiously.

"A lot of businesses on Main St. are in a pretty delicate situation, so we have to proceed carefully here," Nelson said. "We don’t want to do anything to tip the balance."

Downtown business owners Robin Jeffs and Dave Worden told the council they preferred setting up a parking district with revenues which would create a connection in the way the money was generated and the way it was spent.

executive Charise McHugh, who researched parking programs in Truckee and Ventura, said that she preferred a $1/hr option and cited other parking policies, such as a special rate for locals in the city of Ventura.

"This needs to be very well thought out as it's very important to all our businesses and community members and visitors. Most income does come from our visitors," McHugh said. "We have to be very careful and think about how it will affect them."

Councilmember Rick Kowalczyk said he only wanted to charge fees on what the market would bear, and suggested a variable parking program where the cost per parking spot would vary based on demand at the time.

Vice Mayor Allan Alifano said he preferred a $1/hour fee. He cited a paid parking program in Augusta, Ga., where parking proceeds were spent on a sidewalk alley, street lighting and landscaping.

Community members gave input on how such proceeds should be spent at town hall meetings, Alifano said.

Councilmembers and business owners appeared to be in favor of starting paid parking at 10 a.m. in order to provide time for locals to patronize merchants selling coffee and breakfast items.

"It's important to keep in mind that if you reduce certain components, such as hours or days, the program starts to become less feasible," City Manager Laura Snideman said.

McHugh said she felt the cutoff hour for paid parking should be 6 p.m. to accomodate people coming to Half Moon Bay's downtown to eat at Main St. restaurants and checking into hotels, but Kowalcyzk implied later in the meeting that the influx of people at that time was the reason why there should be paid parking charged until 7 p.m.

"I’m more open to the idea — I can see more benefits from it," Nelson said after the meeting. "$1 instead of $2 would be much better. I think it needs to be thought through completely," he said.

City council members agreed on the desire to move forward with the idea of implementing a paid parking program, but felt they needed to do more research before determining fees, the hours of enforcement and the areas of enforcement.

At the council's direction, staff was directed to collect more information about paid parking as it relates to cost, enforcement, and pay station technology.

"We can’t look as it as a tax, we have to look at as investment," Councilmember John Muller said.

"We have to look to the future on how we can maintain such a wonderful community," he continued.

 

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Mike from HMB October 19, 2011 at 02:45 PM
As a new resident of HMB, are these the same government officials who harrssed a local landowner until he sued for 18 million dollars and WON? Didn't that fiscally braindead move create the financial situation the town now finds itself in?
Brian Ginna October 19, 2011 at 03:03 PM
Mike Ferreira was the leader of that gang. He is still around, just has no influence. He is a Sierra Club operative now. No, these officials are people who care about the Coastside and the City. This just is not a great idea. Good to see some trepidation here.
Ben Thum October 19, 2011 at 04:18 PM
If you think HMB's economy is hurting now - just wait til paid parking, meter maids, and parking ticket$ come to town. Locals and visitors alike will not be amused. The impact could get ugly.
August West October 19, 2011 at 08:37 PM
All that and you cannot use your real name? Wow... Does Patch really want to allow this kind of message? Pretty dishonest to target Alifano when they have done nothing.
Kristine Wong October 19, 2011 at 08:41 PM
I agree with you, August. I just saw Big Henry's comment posted at 1:33 pm and have deleted it as it violates Patch's terms of service.
Carol Wexler October 22, 2011 at 11:12 AM
Aren't the merchants in town hurting enough from this terrible economy without having to deal with paid parking? The people that are going to make this decision might want to go to Princeton, especially on a weekend, and take a look at the crowds There are a lot of shops and places to eat there now. There is also plenty of free parking. If you start charging for parking you will be sending more people there that might have otherwise been coming into the Main Street area of HMB along with the money that they might have spent in the shops and eaterys in town. I hope that the HMB residents (which includes the merchants) are considered before a decision is made. The Chamber of Commerce must be supporting the HMB merchants in these hard times. I would think they would not be in favor any parking fee.
Diane Moomey October 28, 2011 at 12:54 AM
I tend not to go to Redwood City, which has paid parking, for that reason. NOT because of the few dollars it would cost me, but because of the nuisance. I have to watch the time, be ready to run to the meter (which may be a couple blocks away from where I'm shopping or whatever) or I risk getting a ticket, and having an even bigger hassle and expense. I would probably shop less in downtown Half Moon Bay if that were implemented . . . I'd rather pay a 1% local sales tax.
Mark February 29, 2012 at 10:46 PM
Reading your article made me realize that we are much closer to having "paid parking" than I thought we where. Our council members are already trying to decide on how much to charge and when to enforce to the the parking fees. I was under the impression that this was all just a proposal. Sounds like a done deal to me. I am very disturbed by this entire situation. Mark Heath
Kristine Wong February 29, 2012 at 11:31 PM
Hi Mark, It is true that hypothetical costs per hour were discussed back in the original meeting back in October 2011, but it was in reaction to an initial city staff report attached to this article as a PDF. City staff calculated what the potential range of revenue would be at different price points, I believe, to give a context for the council members to weigh the range of possibilities at the very beginning and initiate a discussion. It is my understanding that the paid parking program is still in the proposal stage, based on what I heard Leslie Parks say at the presentation on Feb. 27, and that the council will reconvene on March 20 for a second formal discussion on the matter.
Mark February 29, 2012 at 11:33 PM
I would agree. I feel that the Chamber of Commerce should represent the voice of local merchants. I have had my business on main street since 1985 and have been a chamber member from the beginning. I am hopeful that Cheri and gang will do their best to represent our interest.
George Muteff March 01, 2012 at 02:37 AM
As an aside Mark, do you feel your best interests were served when the Chamber endorsed the sales tax increase we saw on the ballot in November, 2010?
Mark March 01, 2012 at 02:47 AM
Kristine, Thank you for your response. If feel as if I have "come late to the party" and need to catch up. Your articles are quite helpful.
Mark March 01, 2012 at 02:52 AM
Hi George, I must confess, I did not pay much attention to the chamber's endorsement of the sales tax increase. troubling.
George Muteff March 01, 2012 at 03:17 AM
Thanks for the response Mark. In some ways, I feel this is a very similar affair and as you had commented on the Chamber's mission, I thought I'd ask.
Jenna Kinghorn March 01, 2012 at 10:54 AM
I'm a Montara resident and I stopped using one of my favorite segments of the coastal trail when the city imposed paid parking at Poplar Beach. I know I'm not the only coastsider who has done so; I hope the council looks at whether the Poplar Beach paid parking has been effective at raising as much revenue as they anticipated before they add parking fees downtown. I go out of my way to patronize downtown HMB shops and restaurants, but would be less likely to do so if I had to worry about parking fees.

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