Paid parking: Fewer tickets, more revenue for Truckee district
May 21, 2013
TRUCKEE, Calif. — Truckee's Downtown Parking District is financially self-sustaining for the first time since its inception in 2005 following modifications made in late 2011.
For the 2012-13 fiscal year that ends June 30, the district is projected to make $140,000 in revenue, according to a presentation from Kelly Beede, town parking services manager, to Truckee Town Council last week.
"We expected to break even or operate in the black based on the (2011) modifications we made," Beede said in a follow-up interview.
The only other time the district was in the black was 2011-12, but that was primarily due to redevelopment agency funds, she said.
Feeding into this year's net income is an increase in parking utilization, with peak hour use of the Beacon Lot being up 77 percent in August 2012 compared to August 2010, and up 74 percent in October 2012 compared to October 2011. Peak hour use of the Jax Diner Lot on West River Street was up 40 percent in August 2012, while Jibboom Street was up 66 percent in August and up 9 percent in October.
From December 2010 to November 2011, compared to December 2011 to November 2012, meter transactions for the district went up 6 percent, from 264,342 to 281,681, and meter revenue went up 20 percent, from $376,456 to $469,554, while citation issuance went down 29 percent, Beede said.
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Between 2005 and 2009, the parking district accrued $744,271 in debt, which was paid off in fiscal year 2008-09 through the use of redevelopment funds, the town's general fund and a parking in-lieu fee fund, according to the town.
On July 20, 2011, town council OK'd several changes recommended by a 22-member committee of officials, merchants and residents, with the goal of making the district self-sustaining and the parking program more user-friendly. Among the significant changes, which took effect in mid-November 2011:
The paid Beacon gas station lot became free employee parking and offered two free hours of general public parking between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m.
The progressively increasing parking fee rate structure become a flat fee, with on-street parking on Jibboom Street and West River Street costing $1 an hour and all other paid areas costing $1.50 an hour.
Ongoing public outreach was implemented, taking the form of user-friendly meter faces, new signage and marketing.
"At the end of the day, the primary goals of the parking committee have been accomplished, at least in this first year," Beede said.
Staying the course
Despite revenue projections, some feel more changes are needed.
Fred Zabell, owner of Tahoe Posters on West River Street, has requested free employee parking at the west end of Jax Diner Lot, a request he made before the November 2011 modifications that was denied.
"The stated reason it was rejected was it was inconsistent with the goals of the district being 100 percent self-funded," he explained last week to town council. "In other words, they would lose money by converting those spaces to free employee parking.
"With positive revenue of $140,000 at this point … I don't think that's a consideration any longer."
Dan Wilkins, public works director and town engineer, said the surplus is needed for future capital replacement needs, which are estimated to cost nearly $1 million over the next 10 years.
Further, while Zabell sees free employee parking in the Jax lot as a positive, Wilkins said other business owners might not, as it could take away from customer parking by giving employees a greater incentive to park there.
"Having kind of been with this through the history and seeing the loss year after year after year, and finally we're there — hopefully — (so) I'd like to see this momentum continue without being overly analyzed and changed," said Mayor Carolyn Wallace Dee.
Town council unanimously approved staff recommendation to continue the paid parking program in its current form.