Downtown parking a pressing issue | SierraSun.com

Downtown parking a pressing issue

Guest Column, Cliff Hartwell

Were you one of those who tried to find any parking downtown over the holidays or tried to get in to pick up or send mail at the post office? For 20-some years I’ve tried to get the county, town and merchants to try and make it easier to park in downtown Truckee. We have the same number of parking places, with more and more businesses and employees. There are approximately 216 spaces to park on Commercial Row, and there are roughly 132 employees and business owners who also need to park while working.

This is probably the biggest problem! It is estimated that approximately 40 percent of these employees and owners park on Commercial Row. They take up a space (but move their cars when they see enforcement taking place) for eight to 10 hours a day. Let’s figure that’s about 52 downtown spaces, and a rule of thumb is a space should turn over about every 90 minutes or 12 to 15 times a day. That means these merchants and their employees are taking up space that 624 possible customers could use to visit their business (52 spaces times 12 turnovers).

What can be done about this? Well, there are a few solutions that could really help this problem. There has been a Town Parking Committee (about the fourth in 20 years), and I think they have some good solutions.

To pay or not to pay is the question when in comes to a pay program and upgrading several possible parking areas downtown with better lighting, stripping and signage. Then enforce, enforce and enforce. Make the lot behind Texaco an employee and customer lot with monthly decals for employees and hotel guests. The cost to park must be decided, but it should be low enough for locals, with a two-hour limit. The large lot (next to the fire station) should have a four-hour limit.

This must be approved by the Truckee Town Council, but it should easily pay for itself with the cost of railroad leases, snow removal, insurance, capital expense, maintenance and enforcement. Our little town has been growing and growing, and we must now accept the fact that pay parking must go with this growth. We are one of the few resort towns in the nation that does not pay to park. It’s to the point that you do not say to someone “I’ll meet you at OB’s for lunch,” in fear of not finding a place to park.

I know this will raise the hair on the back of your neck … but it’s going to get worse if we do not do something about this, and it will eventually kill our downtown!

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Next, I will tackle the development code of “In-Lieu Parking Fee’s,” which has also added to the problems of our parking problems!

Cliff Hartwell is a Truckee resident.