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Saturday, January 27, 2007

The Future of Reparking in Davis

On August 14, 2006 the city implement strict rules against "reparking" based on a new city ordinance. The idea at the time was that by forcing cars to move to a different block every hour and a half to two hours, it would ease up some of the strain on the limited number on street parking spots in the downtown area. At the time, I thought it was a very Orwellian concept that would not work as planned, but nevertheless, they went forward with it.

Well now here we are in January, and apparently this is one of the topics under reconsideration. There are apparently two problems right now with the "reparking" program. The first problem is that instead of actually freeing up parking spots, you are just rotating cars around to the next block at various intervals. So you have the same amount of cars parking for the most part, they simply move from one block face to another. Rather than saving parking spots, it is probably creating more traffic problems.

The second problem came up during a budget item in November: the city is running short in revenue from parking fines. What has happened is with such a strict enforcement system with the new reparking prohibitions coupled with the GPS units (that really look Orwellian) on top of the parking enforcement vehicles, is that people have been complying with the law. Now that may seem like a good thing, but as we discovered in November, the city actually used to count on that revenue source in their budget. The stricter regulations have led to a decrease in a source of revenue for the city. Only perhaps in Davis is it a bad thing that people are being more diligent about following the law.

In short, it appears that the tougher restrictions have not met either the objective of cleaning up the parking problem of downtown streets and they have resulted in the unintended consequence of actually reducing city revenue collected in fines. On the other hand, they may have the drawback of discouraging people from having lengthy shopping visits to downtown by putting an artificial or psychological cap on the amount of the time they spend.

These factors would seem to be a strong incentive for the downtown businesses to find other solutions to the perpetual and growing problem of parking. Not to mention, we need to figure out a way to make people use the under utilized existing parking structures for their parking.

It is our opinion that the city of Davis ought to abandon the "reparking" prohibition in the downtown area and work towards encouraging people to utilize the parking structures and alternative forms of transportation into the downtown core. With the inevitable development of the new Target facility on the periphery, it is all the more imperative that these solutions be developed sooner rather than later so that we can preserve the character of our downtown and allow it to continue to thrive into the future.

---Doug Paul Davis reporting