October 13, 2016

Downtown Riverside parking costs could go up

Riverside hasn’t raised fees in six years, and money could fund improvements, consultant says.

If city officials follow a consultant’s recommendations, parking in downtown Riverside might get more expensive, but the increased revenue could help pay for better parking facilities and security.

After studying parking patterns on downtown streets and in public garages and hearing from businesses and residents, consultant Julie Dixon proposed a number of changes to how parking is managed and what it costs.

The suggestions were presented at a meeting Monday, Sept. 19, the third forum on downtown parking issues since June.

Riverside owns about 4,300 parking spaces downtown in four public garages, 15 lots and spots on various streets.

Among Dixon’s proposals were eliminating or shortening the time people can park free in city garages – it’s now 90 minutes – but ramping up use of validation for business patrons; considering a tiered rate that gets more expensive after the first two hours to discourage people from staying in a spot all day; and start charging a flat rate for parking at night, at least on busy weekend nights.

Parking rates haven’t been raised since 2010, Dixon noted.

Downtown has ample parking and the city’s garages are usually not full, she said. But many visitors like to park just outside their destination, so there can be shortages in specific spots or at certain times, such as the holiday Festival of Lights.

Also, parking is expected to get tighter as more homes are built downtown and the city sells some surface lots to developers. More than 300 spaces, mostly in lots, are expected to disappear by sometime in 2017 because of new projects.

A typical strategy to build a vibrant downtown is to push parking to the perimeter so the core of the city is more pedestrian friendly, Dixon said.

A few of the roughly 20 people at Monday’s meeting worried that charging for parking that is now free on nights and weekends would hurt businesses.

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