Modesto considers longer parking times downtown

02/08/2014 7:50 PM

02/08/2014 10:00 PM

It’s one of downtown visitors’ biggest gripes: They park on the street and then go about their business only to come back and find a $33 parking ticket on their windshield because they parked for longer than one hour.

Modesto is looking at making downtown more inviting by increasing how long motorists can park on some downtown streets during weekdays, from one hour to two, before getting ticketed. The area the city may change is bounded by Ninth, K, 12th and H streets. The area is heavily concentrated with restaurants and shops, and most of the street parking there is for one hour.

The proposal is set to get its first public vetting Monday at the City Council’s Safety & Communities Committee. Committee members can recommend the proposal to the council for adoption. The matter could go before the council in March.

City Senior Planner Josh Bridegroom said the Downtown Improvement District has requested the change to the parking limits because many downtown visitors find they cannot eat lunch, shop or conduct other business in less than an hour.

“The idea is to make it so that people want to be here, and we are not rushing them out,” DID board Chairman David Boring said. “Parking is at a premium in any downtown. But my issue with it, and my board’s issue with it, is I don’t think we are sending the right message to people who want to come downtown.”

Bridegroom said the Downtown Modesto Partnership has endorsed the proposal. The partnership was formed in November and represents a cross section of the community, such as churches, the city, downtown businesses and property owners, and the Chamber of Commerce.

Bridegroom said this proposal is among several the city and others are considering to make downtown more vibrant and attractive to businesses and visitors. For instance, he said city officials are fine-tuning an incentive program for downtown businesses, which could come before the City Council in the spring.

Modesto estimates it will receive $670,000 from parking tickets in the current fiscal year, which ends June 30. That estimate is based on tickets issued citywide for such offenses as parking longer than allowed and parking in a red zone. Information on how much of that $670,000 will come from the area the city is considering changing was not available.

Although there is the potential for parking revenue to decline if the proposal is adopted, Bridegroom said that could be more than offset by more people coming and staying longer downtown and spending money in stores, restaurants and other businesses.

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