I had lunch yesterday with Frank Ching who runs the parking for the City of Santa Monica. He was bubbling all over about a policy change they just put through which has seemed to be a grand success. They have changed their parking policy to say that parkers can only park for two hours at most of the meters in the city. It is illegal to feed the meters, and with newly installed sensor technology, the meters will not accept more than two hours payment until the vehicle has left the space.
Frank says that this has meant that over 1600 people who where feeding meters and taking prime parking space in the city’s downtown core are now parking in outlying lots and structures. Merchants are ecstatic since now their customers can easily find a parking space, and congestion has been substantially reduced since folks aren’t cruising around looking for a place to park.
They also changed the policy in their parking structures which was ‘first two hours free’ to “first 90 minutes free.” They had a problem in the lots with folks moving their cars in and out every two hours and parking all day for free. He told me that he stood in front of one of the lots and watched 59 people in one hour make u-turns right in front of him to get the two hours free parking. With the time reduced to 90 minutes, it means people have to come out more often and the incidence has been greatly reduced.
Of course there were the usual complaints, but Frank says they are dropping off and the support of the merchant’s groups has greatly helped in the public relations portion of the project.
Way to go Frank Ching and Santa Monica