Urban Design Alliance Hosts Parking Dialogue

Parking was the subject Wednesday at the Urban Design Alliance's Design Dialogue, an event that occurs every fourth Wednesday and features a different topic each time.
Howard Chan, parking services manager for the Sacramento Department of Transportation, led a discussion about downtown parking, which also included an update about the Central City Parking Master Plan that the City Council adopted in 2006.

"We don't really have a parking problem," he said. Chan noted that there are usually enough parking spaces throughout downtown, although not all of the spaces are used efficiently. While the congestion usually lies near the Capitol at the peak time between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., he said, spaces only a few blocks away are not being utilized.

Chan also discussed how technology has not only helped the city find parking violators, but also helped drivers avoid citations, using the new pay and display stations that accept credit cards as examples. There has been a 400 percent increase in catching multiple-citation drivers, he said, while there has also been a decline in general citations due to these machines.

Chan also promised that changes would still be coming to Sacramento's parking situation, including pay-by-text technology that allows drivers to pay for more parking when away from the meter, and variable payment structures depending on demand in certain areas.

"Our overarching goal is not revenue," Chan said. "It's to make parking available to the public."

After Chan's discussion, questions were allowed from the audience of about 25. The questions allowed for more dialogue about the city's parking issues. One such issue was the abuse of handicap placards, which allows anyone who has a placard to park anywhere for free.

Other questions concerned parking plans for the railyards, parking situations at large buildings without parking lots and even a possible smartphone application that would help people find a good parking spot downtown.

The event allowed for intelligent discussion about a topic that is usually in the back of citizens' minds and provided a glimpse into the future of parking in Sacramento.

The Design Dialogue was hosted by the Urban Design Alliance and was held at the central valley office of the American Institute of Architects.
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