Motorists can expect higher parking rates, extended meter hours, and valet parking in a pilot summer parking program that begins on July 1.
The goal of the measures mapped out by Irvine’s RBF Consulting is to reduce downtown traffic congestion by providing drivers with incentives to use cheaper peripheral lots linked to scheduled trolley service.
After approving some of the measures earlier, the City Council signed off on additional components for the pilot plan Tuesday, as outlined by Deputy City Manager Ben Siegel.
Taken together, the measures should make about 200 more parking spaces available during peak demand, improve access to those spaces and generate up to $400,000 in revenue, said Siegel.
Residents will be doubly glad of their shoppers permits come July 1, when on- and off-street meter rates downtown jump to $2 an hour and meter rates in off-street lots go up 50 cents an hour. The new rates will take effect on weekends, holidays and weekdays after 5 p.m. on Forest Avenue, Ocean Avenue, and Broadway Street, and on Coast Highway between Cliff Drive and Legion Street.
Higher rates are intended to make peripheral lots more attractive to day-trippers who can park for $7 a day in the 264-space ACT V lot in Laguna Canyon, or for free in the 50 spaces at the Boat Canyon shopping center or the 150 spaces at Mission Hospital, and then hop a free trolley to wherever the action is.
Also, during the 10-week festival season, parkers will have to pony up for their space until 9 p.m. If it’s any compensation, the three-hour parking limit per space will end at 9 p.m., so visitors can come in for dinner and a show and not worry about moving the car.
New automated, solar-powered pay stations in the Forest and Laguna Canyon and Lumberyard parking lots downtown, will reduce both queuing and staffing costs, Siegel reported. Also, the increase in daily rates there to $15 from $10 on weeknights, weekends and holidays will boost revenue. The city’s newly purchased lot at 725 Laguna Canyon Rd., across from the Festival of Arts, adds 65 spaces.
Visitors and residents can also take advantage of two fledgling valet programs. A $20 valet drop-off station in the US Bank lot at 310 Glenneyre St. will be available weekday evenings and weekends. And Sawdust visitors can pull up to the Boys and Girls Club on Friday nights and weekends and unload their wheels for a $10 fee.
Due to concerns about parking on a play area, the city has purchased absorbent mats to capture motor fluids.
The two valet lots are expected to generate $40,000 to $50,000 in city revenue, according to the staff report.
The city also made a pact with Laguna College of Art & Design to use up to 100 campus spaces on weekends if the ACT V lot is full. Drivers can opt to park for free in the LCAD lot and take a free van service back to ACT V to pick up the trolley.
Visit Laguna Beach and the Chamber of Commerce pitched in to help get visitors and businesses up to speed on the new parking options this summer. The VLB developed a digital map of parking areas and trolley routes for their mobile app, as well as giving a heads up to local and regional hotel personnel.
Most residents have probably already seen the city’s new parking signs around town. New electronic message boards on Coast Highway will also urge motorists to use the free peripheral lots connected to free trolley service.
To evaluate the pilot’s effectiveness, RBF will collect data throughout the summer and throughout town.
City Manager John Pietig commended the staff’s accomplishment since they received their marching orders in January. “They’ve done a very difficult task in a short time,” he said.