Parking fees are too cheap, create developer incentive | SierraSun.com

Parking fees are too cheap, create developer incentive

Guest Column, Cliff Hartwell

(Editor’s note: This is the second of two columns discussing downtown Truckee parking issues.)

The last column I wrote was on downtown parking problems and some possible solutions. In-lieu parking fees is one of the big items that has caused loss of parking spaces downtown and elsewhere, and I am sure most of you are unaware of this condition in the development code.

If a developer or builder does not want to furnish any parking places as required by a formula in their new retail or commercial building, they can pay an in-lieu parking fee of $5,700 per space to the Town of Truckee. My understanding is that they do have to furnish a handicap space only on this project. So if the code determines they have to furnish six spaces plus one handicap space, they can pay $34,200 into this mitigation account and not have to furnish any parking for their project, except for a handicap space. “What a Deal!”

Why would a developer want to furnish any parking spaces at this rate? Figure it out: A space and its access take about 250 square feet. They are charging the lessee from $3 to $4 per square foot per month ($36-48 per square foot per year). That’s $8,800 to $11,000 per year for their building space with no or very little for common space (parking).

This means the developer has all his money back ($5,700 per space) in just a few months. And on top of that, they have no maintenance on their parking like snow removal, sealing, stripping and insurance.

So where do they park? In your parking spaces. This is why things are getting worse for downtown parking. One is the new Jibboom Street project, which for the last year has fenced off the spaces the merchants used to use as a parking lot. They are buying several in-lieu spaces.

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What can we do to avoid or mitigate this? My suggestion is to up these fees to approximately $25,000 each (make it hurt a little), and make them have to furnish at least 60 percent of the required parking spaces. These fees could be used to purchase land for additional parking lots or areas, or they can lease land and improve them for downtown parking.

I understand that downtown space is at a real premium and very expensive, but the developers return is significant, looking at current lease rates.

Cliff Hartwell is a

Truckee resident.