s
s
Sections
Sections
Subscribe
You've read 5 of 15 free articles this month.
Support local journalism and get unlimited access to PressDemocrat.com, the eEdition and our mobile app, all starting at 99 cents per month.
Already a subscriber?
You've read 10 of 15 free articles this month.
Support local journalism and get unlimited access to PressDemocrat.com, the eEdition and our mobile app, all starting at 99 cents per month.
Already a subscriber?
You've read all of your free articles this month.
Support local journalism and get unlimited access to PressDemocrat.com, the eEdition and our mobile app, all starting at 99 cents per month.
Already a subscriber?
We've got a special deal for readers like you.
Support local journalism and get unlimited access to PressDemocrat.com, the eEdition and our mobile app, all starting at 99 cents per month.
Already a subscriber?
Thanks for reading! Why not subscribe?
Support local journalism and get unlimited access to PressDemocrat.com, the eEdition and our mobile app, all starting at 99 cents per month.
Already a subscriber?
Want to keep reading? Subscribe today!
Ooops! You're out of free articles. Starting at just 99 cents per month, you can keep reading all of our products and support local journalism.
Already a subscriber?

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.

Shoup, who earlier toured downtown Santa Rosa, said it was his impression that ?there is a fair amount of parking in Santa Rosa.?

He said cities often claim they don?t have the enough parking to entice new retail and industrial development but that it?s his belief the issue ?isn?t we don?t have too few parking places but that we mismanage them.?

Shoup said Santa Rosa could benefit from the fluctuating pricing policies employed in Old Pasadena and a few other cities.

Santa Rosa currently charges a flat $1 per hour for curbside parking downtown no matter the location, and 75-cents an hour in its garages and surface lots.

San Francisco has a parking rate policy that charges $3.50 and more during the more popular early morning business and after-work dinner parking and entertainment hours but lesser amounts during late morning and early afternoon when those same spaces are less in demand.

Such a pricing policy will also help fill up city garages for those unwilling to pay the higher rates during the more popular curbside parking times, he said.

Shoup said he?s aware of criticism of Santa Rosa?s parking policies, including those who say in letters to the editor that they shop at Coddingtown or in other cities rather than in downtown Santa Rosa because the others offer free parking.

But he said those looking for free parking often are the people who wouldn?t be spending much anyway, the type of customer who likely would not tip service workers.

Shoup said in the additional parking revenues generated in Old Pasadena helped create a welcoming environment that made it the place-to-be for shoppers and tourists willing to pay for parking. ?I don?t think the future of cities are dirty sidewalks and free parking. I think the future is in clean sidewalks and paid parking,? he said.

How Shoup?s views will play in Santa Rosa remain to be seen. His appearance was triggered by a growing council debate over whether the city has enough parking. The audience of 120 people included the city council and members of city boards and commissions, local business and environmental groups and biking organizations.

That debate has focused on a joint proposal by the council and a private developer to build a 545-space, city-owned parking garage and 151-room, privately-owned boutique hotel on a 1.3-acre E Street site that now houses a 116-space city surface parking lot.

A new more transit-oriented council majority that took office last November, however, has leaned toward reducing the number of spaces, a move that could jeopardize the feasibility of the project for the developer.

Mayor Susan Gorin, following Shoup?s presentation, said the issue of potential of changing the number of parking spaces will become before the council Sept. 15.

She said the future of downtown parking, and Shoup?s views on it, will be part of a discussion that will begin today with talks with some downtown merchants.

?Ultimately,? she said, ?it will be a community decision.?

Deputy parking director Cheryl Woodward said negotiations with the private developer, MetroPacific Properties of San Rafael, are on hold.

?The council has always maintained they are supportive of the hotel project. The last time I talked with the developer they said they are hanging in there but they are concerned about what direction the council might take,? she said.