Thursday , July 18 2024
Breaking News

Riverside looks to solve its downtown parking problems

Starting July 1, parking in downtown Riverside will be subject to new guidelines that will include lower rates and allow up to 90 minutes of free parking per day.

Parking Your Way, which will be accessible via the city’s Park Riverside smartphone app, will apply to metered spaces on the street, as well as city-owned parking lots and garages, according to a city staff report.

The program, which the city council approved unanimously in April, allows for a maximum of 30 minutes free parking in metered street spaces, and as much as 60 minutes in the public parking lots and garages.

By combining the two, visitors to a downtown restaurant or shop may park for free up to an hour and a half, if they’re willing to move their vehicle to do so.

Anyone using the app, which is still being worked on, will automatically receive free parking.

Those who do not want to use Park Riverside app may pay with cash or a debit/credit card. Those payments can be made with a parking garage attendant or at parking kiosks, which will remain in place.

“We’re trying to spread the free parking around to as much of downtown as we can, and we’re putting some of it on the street,” said Erik Lue, Riverside’s public parking services manager. “We’ve never done that before.”

Parking Your Way also calls for two of downtown’s five parking structures, both on Orange Avenue, to be redeveloped: the structure between University Avenue and 9th Street and the building between University and Mission Inn Avenue.

The first, which has five levels and 157 spaces, will be replaced with affordable housing. The latter – six levels, 175 spaces – will be converted into a retail-parking project, with some of the parking set aside for the affordable housing residents.

Riverside is negotiating with a housing developer whose name has not been released, but no deal has been reached, Lue said.

Under the rates established by Parking Your Way, the use of space in a city-owned parking structure will cost $1.25 per half-hour.

Starting in year five, that rate will go up 25 cents per 30 minutes every five years. A daily $20 maximum fee will start in year three.

A monthly permit to use a parking structure will cost $115.

Parking lots and metered spaces on the street will both cost $1.50 per half-hour, and both will go up at the same rate as the parking garages – 25 cents per 30 minutes every five years – starting five years into the program.

Employees of downtown businesses will be able to park anywhere for $24 a month, according to the report.

Parking Your Way comes one year after Riverside’s parking services division developed a downtown parking plan that downtown merchants raised concerns about soon after it was put into place.

“The city put in a downtown parking fee structure that was so steep that it caused a rebellion,” said Janice Penner, executive director of the not-for-profit Riverside Downtown Partnership. “To its credit, the city took another look at the situation and came back with a plan that we believe will work.

“It addresses a lot of the concerns the business community had about the first plan, and it keeps free parking on Saturdays and Sundays. That’s very important, especially for the people who work downtown.”

Those changes were made after a series of public surveys, town hall-style community meetings, and sessions with downtown stakeholder groups. That process took nine months, with the goal of establishing what business owners and the general public expected from the parking program.

Two public meetings were held at the main public library. The first was attended by about 80 people, and the second attracted more than 100, according to Lue.

“At first people were upset, and rightly so, but after a little while things calmed down,” Lue said. “But they were right, the rates were too high. Besides making parking more available, we also had to make it more affordable.”

Parking Your Way will also provide enough revenue to ensure that the parking garages and parking lots downtown – a one-square-mile area bordered by 3rd Street on the north, 14th Street on the south, Lime Street on the east and Brockton Avenue on the west – will be properly maintained.

That problem is nothing new, according to Penner.

“Some of the downtown parking [properties] aren’t in good condition, and that’s been an issue for a long time,” Penner said. “They weren’t generating enough revenue to pay for maintenance, upgrades, security and better technology, but now that should change.”

Traditionally, the parking services division – which is part of the public works department – has its own budget. For the past several years it has run an annual deficit of about $1 million, according to Leu.

“Maintenance has been an issue for a long time, and we don’t expect all of the problems to be fixed right away,” Leu said.“One of the problems is that we don’t have lot of parking data, especially on night parking. We will probably be underwater for at least another year.”

Check Also

Former Harris Building damaged in fire

The former Harris Department Store building in downtown San Bernardino has been boarded up and …

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *