Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Parking AND Transit--City Manager Expands the Discussion

Densification of Tacoma's City Center will require a whole new paradigm for parking and transit to offset traffic congestion otherwise created by growth. That's the ambitious scope of the recommendations that City Manager Eric Anderson previewed for members of the Tacoma City Council at yesterday's Study Session.

Anderson gave a progress report on his series of public forums conducted throughout the greater downtown area, emphasizing that none of the recommendations is final at this point. His presentation followed the outline of last week's presentation to the Downtown Merchants Group.

While noting remarkable alignment with the recommendations of the Transit & Parking Advisory Committee, we were clear (when asked by Mayor Bill Baarsma to comment on Anderson's presentation) that there is still some ways to go before the business community can endorse the recommendations. Still, Anderson's apparent grasp of the new transportation paradigm and the openness displayed both by him and by key members of his staff (e.g., Kurtis Kingsolver) are powerful tools that can help forge consensus.

Most of the questions posed by City Councilmembers focused on cost--how much will building an effective transit & parking system cost, and which agencies will bear the expense? Anderson admitted that he has yet to engage local and regional transit providers in this discussion.

Anderson plans one more round of community forums, in addition to using other venues to continue the dialog. He anticipates presenting his final recommendations--presumably accompanied by a budget proposal--back to Council in October.


  1. Great progress. Tacoma is finally moving toward a parking system that will benefit both merchants, residents and visitors. Nice work of the Parking Commission.

    Parking Advisory Committee Report: Improving Downtown Transit and Parking

    Here's how I would implement it:

    1) The city council could adopt an ordinance as Redwood city did to set pricing policy to maintain a 15 percent occupancy:

    Redwood ordinance

    2) City of Tacoma parking personnel would monitor occupancy in various area

    3) Tacoma Parking Commission, which has a variety of stakeholders, would review the occupancy data.

    4) Where there was sufficient demand in downtown, parking meters/pay stations would be implemented. Where there is insufficient demand, parking should remain free. (This would result in a majority of the city continuing to have free but monitored parking)

    Prices would be adjusted periodically in the various downtown based on demand.

    With that said, there is going to be a learning curve. I think the best place to start the system would be around the Pierce County Courthouse as:

    1) There is likely higher demand there for parking than any area in downtown.

    2) There is little retail in the area.

  2. By the way, the best explanation of the necessity of having the right pricing policy (one with a 15 percent vacancy) is described by Professor Shoup himself in this video

    "Set the lowest price possible to obtain a 15 percent vacancy"

    It makes alot of sense and shows how pricing parking correctly is best for the city environmentally, reduces traffic congestion and benefits downtown.