Friday, July 27, 2007

Parking Recommendations Released

A consensus document offering stakeholder recommendations to improve downtown parking is hot off the presses. The twelve-page Improving Downtown Transit & Parking (a ten-page version sans an executive summary was released to the press yesterday) presents the recommendations from the Transit and Parking Advisory Committee, a 12-member group representing a broad variety of stakeholders organized by the Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber.
The Transit & Parking Advisory Committee was the driving factor for increased enforcement of downtown parking policies; as a result, considerable on-street parking has become available to visitors, customers and clients of downtown businesses. The committee’s comprehensive report now recommends not only consistent enforcement, but also flexible parking strategies in response to special events and the selective deployment of parking meters.

The Transit & Parking Advisory Committee has identified general recommendations:
  • Maximize efficiency of current transit & parking operations
    Create a strong transit & parking system business plan
  • Enhance communications about the transit & parking system
  • Implement new technology—and use it effectively
  • Institute a “customer care” program
  • Provide flexibility to respond to special events and changing needs
In addition, the Transit & Parking Advisory Committee offers recommendations for some specific policy “hot buttons”:

Coordination & Collaboration
An effective downtown transportation plan should be developed that considers pedestrian, bicycle, carpool, vanpool, bus, rail, Flexcar and parking as coordinated elements of a strategic transportation system. The Transit & Parking Advisory Committee will continue to work with the Commute Trip Reduction programs of both Tacoma and Pierce County to encourage participation from both large and small employers.

Parking Enforcement
The Transit & Parking Advisory Committee encourages the City of Tacoma to more aggressively pursue enforcement against “chain” parking (now termed “moving to evade”) while at the same time encouraging broader support for use of transit and other commute alternatives by employees of member firms in the downtown Tacoma area. A more robust, employer-based transportation demand management (TDM) program should be pursued to provide effective, customer focused alternatives to parking.

Meters—Charging for On-Street Parking
The Transit & Parking Advisory Committee believes that selectively deploying pay stations or other forms of on-street metering has merit for “inventory control” purposes as well as for establishing a stronger revenue package as security for bonding. In the few areas that have sufficient demand consistently with occupancy significantly above 85 percent, the City could install parking meters and begin charging a very minimal amount.

Expenditure of Funds Gathered from On-Street Metering
The City of Tacoma should direct the funds gathered from metering in a distinct neighborhood or subarea of downtown into amenities that will benefit that specific neighborhood. Funds earned in excess of the real costs of operating the metering system should be expended upon clearly-related public improvements such as a streetcar line and/or streetscape improvements. The Transit & Parking Advisory Committee recommends that a stakeholder group be formed or tasked to direct the investment of these funds in the local neighborhood.

Removal of Off-Street Parking Required for New Construction
Removing the off-street parking requirement may allow developers the flexibility to build the amount of parking that the market requires. This step should only be considered, however, within the context of a more robust transportation demand management program than currently exists.

The document was endorsed yesterday morning by the Chamber; previous endorsements were made by the BIA, the Downtown Merchants Group, and the New Tacoma Neighborhood Council.


  1. Nice work. Great to see all of the major stakeholders on board and supporting the same policy.

    They appear to adopt many of the "best methods" for handling parking and to move downtown Tacoma from more of an urban building model from a suburban one. Perhaps now, with the removal of the off-street parking requirements, we will be able to fill in some smaller empy lots downtown.

    Here's the report online that Kevin has:

    Transit and Parking Advisory Committee parking report: Improving Downtown Transit and Parking

    The next step should be for the city to begin monitoring on-street vacancies so see which areas downtown have sufficient demand which would make chargin for parking advantageous.

    The area of highest demand I know if in the downtown is around the courthouse. Perhaps this should be the test area.

  2. This does not seem to be in conjucntion with the opinion of the neighborhoods. The" major stakehoders" are the neighborhood groups and residents and they are certainly not abord with such a proposal.

  3. This does not seem to be in conjucntion with the opinion of the neighborhoods.

    The report only covers downtown which is in primarily in the New Tacoma Neighborhood which supported the proposal.