Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Downtown Tacoma Parking Update

Since paid parking began in downtown Tacoma in September of 2010, there has been a steady increase with over one million transactions taking place last year alone.

Today, Kurtis Kingsolver, Tacoma’s Interim Public Works Director/ City Engineer, along with the Parking Technical Advisory Group Co-Chairs Rollie Herman and Judi Hyman, presented a parking update to the Tacoma City Council Economic Development Committee. The presentation provided an overview of Tacoma’s parking system, key issues, potential solutions, and next steps.

The presenters identified two key parking areas. First, the area surrounding the Pierce County Court House and Bates Technical College in between South 9th Street and 13th and Yakima and Tacoma Avenue was identified as being at capacity for street parking. Currently, this area does not have paid street parking. Typically, those visiting the court house need parking for around four hours, whereas the nearby students need parking all day. Both users, however, likely do not have the ability to pay for parking.

The second area identified is the area surrounding the University of Washington, Tacoma from 17th to 21st Street and Jefferson and Pacific Avenue. Even with paid street parking, this area is often at capacity, limiting local business’ customer volume. The advisory group proposed three suggestions to encourage higher turnover: 1). Reduce the time from two hours to 90 minutes; 2). Extend the paid parking time from 6 pm to 8 pm; and 3). Remove Saturday’s all day parking.

The advisory group also described how the City could promote parking in their off-street parking structures by improving signage that would make it easier to locate and enter and possibly tying into the current Pacific Avenue Streetscape Wayfinding project.

Moreover, the advisory group noted how License Plate Recognition (LPR) technology may be used to promote better compliance, high scofflaw capture, and improved payment compliance through greater system efficiency and the collection of data.

Lastly, the City is well overdue for an updated Parking Master Plan (the last one was completed in 1992), which would take into account parking demand and occupancy data, pricing, an evaluation of the current system’s performance, an evaluation of the City’s role in parking, stakeholder input and public outreach, and a financing strategy.

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