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Expert tells Santa Rosa: Raise parking fees

A UCLA urban planning professor told Santa Rosa?s City Council Tuesday he has the the answer to critics who say they don?t shop downtown because it?s the one Sonoma County city that charges for parking.

His solution: charge more.

But Donald Shoup?s answer, however, was a bit more detailed than that.

He said that in Old Pasadena, where a 15-block section had deteriorated into slum-like conditions, an economic renaissance was fueled by charging more for popular parking spaces sought by shoppers and tourists and lower fees for spaces farther away.

?It turned from a skid row to a highly popular shopping area,? said Shoup, the author of a book called ?The High Cost of Free Perking.?

Shoup?s book questions traditional municipal parking policies that emphasize the need to build acres and acres of parking to entice commercial and industrial development.

Shoup said the idea of adding hundreds of parking meters to the retail streets of Old Pasadena and substantially raising hourly rates on the most highly sought-after spaces initially was opposed by the city political and business leaders.

But Shoup said that resistance dissipated amid promises that a share of the increased parking revenues would be shared with the neighborhoods in which they were collected.

That money was used to bolster renovation efforts that included weekly sidewalk steam cleanings and landscaping and other pedestrian-friendly improvements that turned Old Pasadena into a place-to-be for shoppers, tourists and new businesses, he said.

The city not only reaped more parking revenues but sales taxes as well, he said.

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