Paid Parking: Truckee OKs short-term $125K relief plan
TRUCKEE, Calif. andamp;#8212; Months of deliberation and public meetings ended this week in a split decision from town council in favor of a short-term plan that officials hope will pull the town’s struggling parking district out of the red.Town of Truckee Mayor Richard Anderson was the lone opposing vote in the 4-1 decision Wednesday evening that OK’d 12 recommendations, which, among others, include terminating the town’s lease at the Assumption Catholic Church, creating a flat rate of $1.50 for meters in high trafficked areas (opposed to the current gradually increasing rate structure of $1 for the first and second hours, $2 for the third hour and $3 for fourth) and allowing free two-hour parking and employee-permitted parking at the Beacon gas station lot.Additionally, $10,000 was approved for the town to market the program and for a one-year review to make changes based on needs.The recommendations andamp;#8212; which take effect mid-September andamp;#8212; are estimated to balance the $600,000 in annual costs to the town’s parking district by eliminating a general taxpayer subsidy of $125,000.
andamp;#8220;I will just say that I will not be voting yes on a parking program that does not provide free parking on West River Street and which raises the rates elsewhere in the downtown,andamp;#8221; Anderson said. andamp;#8220;Downtown Truckee is not analogous to a shopping center. What I really take exception to is the assumption that the town shouldn’t provide some general fund financing to the downtown paid parking area.andamp;#8221;Council member Joan Jones quickly responded, saying Anderson’s stance and especially his desire for free parking on West River Street was a andamp;#8220;knee jerk reaction.andamp;#8221;andamp;#8220;I think that it’s an ongoing issue, and we’ve operated in the red for at least five years,andamp;#8221; Jones said. andamp;#8220;I’d like to see us operate in the black for a year or so.andamp;#8221;Pointing to a town projections, Jones said free parking on West River Street would be financially insolvent. However, Anderson labeled projections as guesses without experience.Giving background context, Town Manager Tony Lashbrook said parking shouldn’t be considered as the only way the town is contributing to downtown.andamp;#8220;I just want to point out that this town council is actively spending millions … on a variety of upgrades to downtown, so there is no question of the importance of the downtown to this council or to this staff person or to the town’s track record,andamp;#8221; he said andamp;#8220;There are only so many dollars to go around.andamp;#8221;After a back and forth between Jones and Anderson, council member Carolyn Wallace Dee reflected the stance of the majority of the council.andamp;#8220;I think it’s easier … to incrementally strip away layers (of parking costs to businesses and patrons),andamp;#8221; she said. andamp;#8220;If we cut too deep, we could bleed to death.andamp;#8221;
Discussion Wednesday focused on employee parking, specifically to the concern downtown employees would consume too much parking at the Beacon lot.Parking Committee Chair Paul Leyton spoke against a town-driven amendment that allows employees to continue using Jibboom Street parking andamp;#8212; an option prohibited in the committee’s initial recommendation.Leyton said the town’s alteration andamp;#8212; made at the request of businesses in a Truckee Downtown Merchant’s Association letter to the town andamp;#8212; gives employees priority over patrons and let merchants andamp;#8220;tail wag the dog.andamp;#8221;andamp;#8220;Those few merchants are saying to their customers and to the community, quote, andamp;#8216;I’ve got two words for you, and they’re not happy birthday,’andamp;#8221; Leyton said.Wallace Dee said she’s concerned about downtown employees using limited parking at the Beacon lot, but said at the year review, the program could be altered if that happens.
Both the town and TDMA said Wednesday it is unlikely downtown businesses will come to an agreement in the near future to develop a solution to create free parking across the district.Doing so would require downtown businesses to voluntarily take on part or all of the roughly $600,000 cost.andamp;#8220;I think the (parking) committee recognized that this wasn’t something that was going to happen in a six-month time period or even probably a one-year time period,andamp;#8221; said Town Engineer Dan Wilkins in his council report.According to the TDMA letter sent to town officials, merchants said any type of business- or property owner-managed parking program was andamp;#8220;premature,andamp;#8221; but continuos efforts would be made for a consensus in the future.Leyton said this means greater leadership is needed by the town.andamp;#8220;In my opinion, the biggest roadblock to success is the difficulty, or perhaps the impossibility, of getting the downtown property owners and merchants to voluntarily participate financially in the parking program,andamp;#8221; he said. andamp;#8220;If leadership requires a heavy hand, in this case, do it.andamp;#8221;