July 3, 2016

RIVERSIDE: Is downtown parking a problem?

Anyone who’s served jury duty in Riverside or visited the Mission Inn’s Festival of Lights probably has a complaint about downtown parking.

Now the city wants to hear those complaints as it launches a parking study to determine whether downtown has enough parking spaces, if they’re in the right places and how much the city should charge for them.

Riverside owns roughly 4,300 downtown parking spaces, many of which are in 15 lots and four public garages. A common complaint is that parking isn’t always where people need it.

“More and more folks are coming to downtown Riverside, and everyone expects to be able to park right in front of where the facility is,” Riverside Art Museum Executive Director Drew Oberjuerge said at a Monday, June 20, meeting about parking concerns.

Others, including downtown business owners, say there should be more free parking, perhaps with time limits, to encourage shoppers and visitors.

Many downtown lots and street spaces were free for years, but the city began widespread use of parking meters around 2006, said City Councilman Mike Gardner, who represents downtown. He thinks officials wanted to raise money to build more parking facilities, and to encourage government workers to use garages rather than street parking.

“There are still those who say, ‘I refuse to go downtown and pay for parking,’” Gardner said.

The 50 or so residents and business owners who turned out for Monday’s meeting had similar concerns and suggestions, including better security for parking garages and lots, more signs to help visitors find parking, and more parking in specific places, like near the art museum and Riverside Municipal Auditorium. Public parking in the area is limited.

Whatever the complaints are now, they’re likely to get worse unless the city makes changes.

Resident Bill Gardner said downtown parking has been “nibbled away” by projects such as the Hyatt Place hotel, which was built on a former parking lot. And more development is coming, such as a possible 6,000-seat events arena that might be built on the lot next to the Riverside Convention Center.

Read the entire article here.

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