Santa Rosa City Hall has shown an unfortunate propensity for missteps when it comes to downtown parking. Over the years, the litany of common complaints include overzealous enforcement, high fees and costly fines, parking meters that don’t work, dark and dingy garages and yes, inconvenient pay stations.
Santa Rosa is moving forward with a plan to rip out dozens of relatively new downtown parking stations that merchants said were baffling to their customers and bad for business.
Four years after ripping out hundreds of parking meters downtown, Santa Rosa is considering putting them back in, this time with high-tech versions meant to be more user-friendly than the much-maligned pay stations.
A Sonoma County zoning board Thursday soundly rejected the state’s application to expand the number of beaches along the Sonoma Coast where visitors would be charged for parking. The unanimous decision of the Board of Zoning Adjustments was expected, and likely sets up another showdown on the contentious issue before county supervisors.
The state’s plan to expand the number of beaches along the Sonoma Coast where visitors would be charged for parking faces its first crucial test in Santa Rosa today.
Santa Rosa’s downtown parking district has seen a surge in new permit revenue since the downtown mall announced plans to eliminate the last significant supply of free parking in the city center.
Permits for the city lots and garages closest to the Santa Rosa Plaza have seen the sharpest increase, a sign that downtown employees who parked in the mall for free have begrudgingly gravitated to city parking facilities.
Water Street, which as its namesake implies, parallels the river, curving behind businesses that front Petaluma Boulevard. In 2003, the city completed a waterfront redevelopment project that revamped Water Street with benches, installed a cobblestone promenade at Western Avenue, removed a chunk of parking spaces behind the businesses and prohibited most through traffic. Now the city is planning a ‘road diet’ on Petaluma Boulevard and some merchants are pushing to have the parking behind their storefronts returned.
Residents and merchants of Healdsburg appear to be strongly against the idea of instituting paid parking. Initially proposed as a way to generate revenue for the sinking city budget, the idea is now being sold by the Police Department as a way to also free up more downtown parking and keep a steady flow of customers for the benefit of shops and restaurants. But merchants aren’t convinced, judging from a city workshop on the paid parking proposal Thursday night.
The 30-year run of free parking at the Santa Rosa Plaza mall will end this summer. Officials from Simon Property Group distributed letters to merchants and city officials Thursday announcing a new controlled-parking program that will charge people up to $9 per day to park in the downtown mall’s five garages.