Easier Parking Tied to Quality Transit


Even as Laguna Beach looks under the hood of its transit system for ways to offset rising costs, parking experts unveiled draft plans that promote reliable, high-frequency shuttles coupled with low-cost remote lots to help unclog the town’s streets.

Bob Madsen of Irvine’s RBF Consulting and his team of experts presented their draft recommendations to better manage the town’s existing parking to the Planning Commission and members of the public Wednesday, April 10. The team fine-tuned points presented at a March 20 workshop.

Matson and his assistant manager Anthony Hernandez were joined by parking experts including Rick Williams, of Portland, Ore., and Rick Wilson, a professor at Cal Poly and consultant in parking policy and financing. The team was engaged last May to identify ways to maximize resources in the downtown area bordered by Legion Street and Cliff Drive and Laguna Canyon Road to the Laguna College of Art & Design.

The team analyzed data collected from 13 studies, including summer and off-season occupancy figures from 2002 and 2007, respectively. They also interviewed city staff involved with parking, as well as 50 to 70 landowners and merchants in the downtown area, and have held three public workshops beginning last July.

They summarized the 110-page draft plan, which can be found at the city’s website under Popular Links in the bottom left of the home page.

The Planning Commission will review the draft formally at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, April 24, in City Council chambers.

Dynamic pricing figured as a key recommendation, based on the belief visitors can be lured to remote lots or outlying meters if the price is right. If, during the summer, parking meter rates increased downtown, significantly lower prices in remote lots could entice visitors to park there if they could rely on fast and frequent trolley service into town, the experts said. This might require improving shuttle service on weekends and possibly increase it during peak days and hours.

Other recommendations included making Ocean Avenue a one-way street all the way to Coast Highway and restriping for diagonal parking for its entire length; a shared valet parking plan; encouraging more businesses to share their parking with others in off hours; and relaxing the parking requirements tied to conditional use permits.

The consultants received positive feedback for the shared valet plan. This would involve setting up several curb-side valet stations (which could simply mean taking up one or two parking spaces and painting the curb) throughout the downtown area. Visitors would pull up to the curb, rather than circling to look for spaces, and leave their car with the valet who would park it at an off-street location. When the visitors are ready to leave, they go to whichever valet station is nearest and their car is brought to them.

Laguna Beach resident Michael Hoag challenged the team, saying that studies show that more parking in a city serves only to increase congestion, and claiming that cities now turn to multi-modal mobility to alleviate traffic congestion.

It’s true that a new space means a “new vehicle trip,” agreed Wilson. “That’s why we prefer to manage existing use and to use peripheral lots.” At the same time, he said, better management of the on-street spaces reduces the congestion per space. As for multi-modal options, he said it is important to determine to what extent Laguna can switch people to biking, walking and using transit, and consider that in any planning decisions.

Whatever parking revisions the city finally signs off on, the consultants highlighted the importance of consumer education, through signage and potentially through technology, such as apps. Most important, there should be signage at the entry points to town letting people know where parking is available, particularly remote lots, before they hit the center of town. Lots might also have signs posting real time availability. And any event fliers should include information on parking options, the consultants said.


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  1. […] Even &#1072&#1109 Laguna Beach looks under th&#1077 hood &#959f &#1110t&#1109 transit system f&#959r ways t&#959 offset rising costs, parking experts unveiled draft plans th&#1072t promote reliable, high-frequency shuttles coupled w&#1110th low-cost remote lots t&#959 h&#1077&#406&#1088 unclog th&#1077 town’s streets. Bob Madsen &#959f Irvine’s RBF Consulting &#1072n&#1281 h&#1110&#1109 team &#959f experts presented th&#1077&#1110r draft recommendations t&#959 […] Parking Technology – Yahoo! News Search Results […]

  2. Two critical points were not covered in this article, they were raised during the Q&A session following the presentation and made by RBF consultant Rick Wilson. These points are pivotal to the direction our planning process takes to relieve traffic congestion in Laguna Beach . Both points were made by consultant Rick Wilson.

    1) According to consultant Wilson, Laguna’s parking demand is growing at 4%, the number is reduced from recent Laguna parking meter data provided RBF consulting by the City. It means if we spend $44 million to gain 200 parking spaces today, we need to spend another $88 Million for 400 more spaces in just 18 years from now just to keep even with demand (but not inflation). To get ahead of demand and inflation we need to spend even more. The point is: building parking infrastructure in Laguna is ineffective and very expensive.

    2) RBF consulting presented the audience data charts showing Laguna’s parking is saturated (Parking Occupancy, Technical Memorandum #1). I asked the question, how to proceed in a town with a growing parking demand, a saturated parking occupancy, and no-room to build more car infrastructure? Rick Wilson stood before a full council chamber and said “a multi-modal transportation plan is preferred to building parking garages”. He said that because parking garages are a magnet for attracting even more cars. Parking garages don’t solve parking congestion. Though pivotal to the planning process, nobody in any town paper covered Rick’s message.


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