This post is in support of this opinion piece
If you oppose building a $22million parking structure on lot 5, it is helpful to understand first why it is being built.
The main reason the garage is being built is to replace the parking that will be lost on lot 12. City council views this project not as adding parking but maintaining the status quo. If you want to convince them not to build the lot you will need to convince them that the status quo should not be maintained.
I will summarize first the council report. You can download and read along here
The report postulates there is currently a 100-200 space shortfall of parking in downtown, and it will increase by 300 spaces in the near term.
The shortfall increase is predicted because of approved and active projects in downtown.
Lots 4, 8, and 12 are all planned for redevelopment.
The development of lots 8 and 12 will replace all existing public parking, plus an additional 75 spaces.
The lot 12 development will not replace any public parking spaces. The net loss from these developments is 95 spaces.
Additionally 2 developments (756 California and 747 Dana) have paid in-lieu fees rather than providing the required parking. There are 42 spaces not being provided by these projects.
Other projects are proposed or expected. But the total current actual calculable shortfall is 137 spaces.
The city currently has a unique opportunity to secure private funding sources and partnerships to invest in supply solutions as well. The Lot 12 developer and Marwood, the developer at 701 West Evelyn Avenue, have proposed funding to support the City’s downtown parking goals. At the May 11 Study Session, Council indicated a willingness to pursue supply-side solutions to this shortfall due to the window of opportunity provided by these public-private partnerships and in-lieu fee payments.
Basically, there are people currently willing to help pay for the garage. There are agreements in which these developers have offered 18.1 million (about 75% of the total cost).
|$10.1 Million||lot 12 developer|
|$8 million||Marwood (lot 4 developer)|
|$2.4 million (projected)||in-lieu fees (projects still under review)|
|up to $6 million||downtown parking benefit fund|
$20.5 million will be supplied by developer fees, and $3.5 million by city funds.
The proposed garage is 5 levels, all above ground. This would have approximately 400 spaces.
Under the agreements with the lot 8 developer, there would be 81 fewer stalls built on that site.
In effect, using accepted parking math, the new parking garage is a sensible response to increased demand and lost supply. The funding is (mostly) available and the proposal makes sense.
What Is Missing From The Report
The report fails to consider the ongoing costs of maintaining the garage, once it is built.
The city is expecting 2 years of design and 2 years of construction for the garage.
Note that the downtown parking strategy meeting will happen in November, before the Marwood decision.
City Council Meeting
You can watch the whole meeting here Vice Mayor Ramirez’s statement gives a sense of the subject from his point of view, a good summary and worth a watch (starting at 5:43:30 and continuing for about 15 minutes)
The main point emphsized by several people is that the garage meets 2 goals
- Allow the lot 12 project (building affordable housing)
- Make 55 spaces that would be private under the Marwood project into public spaces
Notes and quotes
- In-Lieu fees have to be used within the district 2
- Downtown Parking Strategy coming in November, can include discussions of paid parking and etc then.
- Won’t even be able to identify staff to start working on this for at lease six months
“We should pursue every other avenue that we possibly can because parking structures are forever. They’re just always a concrete hulk that gets grimier and grimier over time”
Ramirez (vice mayor)
“I think the lot 12 project is very important, and that is why I am comfortable with it. Even though ordinarily I am not all that keen on increasing parking supply.”
“If we don’t do this I think we will see the creation of more private parking”
In the end the study of the parking structure and the possibility of a larger structure was approved by council
If You Are Not Convinced
If you still think the garage downtown is a bad idea (I agree) you need to understand that it is being built as a result of the parking system that exists.
The tenants of the parking system:
- Parking should be free and readily available.
- All new buildings need new parking.
- The parking supply can never go down.
- Parking demand only goes up over time.
Many of these tenants are codified into law. And the law compels action.
It will take a lot of organized opposition to prevent this from being built. We may need to change some laws.
The good news is we have time. The only thing that was decided in August was to study the proposal. In November there will be a traffic study of all of downtown. This may be a good opportunity to get our opinions heard about alternatives or changes we want.
Complaining to your friends about it won’t get anything done though. We’ll need to organize and petition and etc. Consider joining a group.
I know the Mountain View Coalition for Sustainable Planning opposes the garage. Other groups may as well. Ask around.
Note: Paid Parking
In 2019 the city did a paid parking study. I am not sure if there has been any follow up. They didn’t discuss it at the August meeting.
You can read the study here
Total estimated cost was $1 million for installation and 300-500k operation expenses.
The overall finding from the TAP is that paid parking could work, but it needs to be implemented thoughtfully and strategically and be considered as part of an overall parking demand management strategy
If paid parking is implemented, a Parking Benefit District could be implemented to reinvest paid parking revenue into downtown parking improvements and TDM programs.
A note from the debate
Ramirez (then councilmember) Made a point that adopting resident permit parking program is a prerequisite to getting support for paid parking downtown.
The resident permit program process was created in 2017 (more details here) but has not yet been adopted by any neighborhood.
So it would seem one thing you can do if you want paid parking downtown instead of a new parking structure, is to get an RPPP started in the Old Mountain View neighborhood.
My idea would be to introduce paid parking gradually, starting with the option to pay for more time at existing time-limited free parking spots. I hope to do a post about this idea soon.
Note: Use of Funds
Clarity about what the funds can be used for would be useful. I also believe more housing needs to be built, and so I support the lot 12 project. Could the $10 million fee (and other fees) be used to pay for things besides parking?
- Bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure
- Improved transit (more shuttles, better service)
- Installing paid parking infrastructure
- Providing transit passes to employees of downtown businesses
Some of us in Mountain View want fewer vehicle trips, fewer emissions, and a more walkable, liveable, breathable city. We don’t want more money spent on car infrastructure. We want to change the rules about parking.
The system of parking is large and difficult to change, but it can be changed. The city leadership is sympathetic. Other cities have had success.
I don’t think a protest of “Don’t build the garage” is sufficient. We need to advocate for a complete systematic change in how the city handles parking.
Here are some ideas
- Use fees to regulate demand instead of increasing supply (paid parking, parking permits)
- Build better alternatives to driving (more shuttles, more bike lanes, more trails)
- Charge developers who build private parking a VMT per space
Finally, reach out if this is something you care about. Downtown Parking Strategy will be discussed in November. Let’s present the city with our demands for change at that time.
The math in the report uses rounder numbers, so they have the change as 25 spaces. This is my math:
Lot 5 Garage (proposed) +400 spaces Lot 5 (existing) -94 spaces Lot 12 -160 spaces 701 Evelyn (Marwood) -81 spaces (not yet built) Demand From Office projects (predicted) -35 spaces Net Change +30 spaces
The downtown parking district is small. It doesn’t actually include lot 12, but the concession from lot 12 is not in-lieu fees, so is not subject to this restriction. There was a little talk about expanding the district or changing the requirement. ↩