Pay-to-park a growing trend in Sierra towns |

Pay-to-park a growing trend in Sierra towns

Truckee isnt the only Sierra community using paid parking to free up spaces for downtown customers.Down in the western foothills, both Placerville and Nevada City have started metered parking as a way to increase turnover in tourist-driven, historical commercial cores. Truckees own parking district has started to see increased revenues, and is slowly inching toward a self-sustaining budget, according to town officials.Our feeling is that the parking district met its purpose managing downtown parking, said Kelly Beede, Truckees parking services manager. People say they used to have to drive around for 15 minutes to park; now they pull right in.In the districts second fiscal year of operation, Beede said revenue has increased by 152 percent, reflecting more public compliance with the parking meters.At the beginning of the 2006-07 fiscal year, the parking district projected $314,000 in fees from meters, permits, cards and in-car meters. But projections are now $350,000 in total revenue for the year, Beede said.While the amount is not enough to bring the parking district out of the red, the growing revenues mean the town will have to spend less of its general fund to subsidize parking than before creating the parking district, she said.Its definitely been better than a year ago in awareness and compliance, Beede said. And we are adding signs over the meters this summer to help even more.Parking elsewhereWhile Nevada City has had single-space meters in place for years, City Manager Mark Miller said unchanged rates and little to no enforcement let paid parking lapse in the Gold Country town.The decision came in response to merchants complaints about their fellow merchants parking in front of their business all day, when the spot could be better used by patrons, Miller said.The machinery inside each meter has to be changed, but the meters will charge $.25 for two hours, he said.We took a three-prong approach: We raised parking ticket fees from $10 to $25, changed the meters to only take quarters, and hired two community service officers part time to enforce the meters, Miller said.The new paid parking program began on May 2.Miller said the two retired law enforcement officers will also act as ambassadors for the town, assisting visitors and answering questions, as well as responding to transient and public drinking complaints in the downtown area.The response has been overwhelmingly positive so far; some shop owners just needed incentive to park a couple blocks away and leave the spaces for customers, Miller said.In the El Dorado county seat of Placerville, City Manager John Driscoll said the city decided to start charging for parking Jan. 2 to open up more parking for customers and generate revenue to maintain the existing public parking.People were not initially receptive to change, but people from out of town had less trouble with it than the locals, Driscoll said. The city has had to contend with the loss of 50 to 70 spaces to a railroad right of way, and over 100 spots taken up by jurors in the downtown area on any given day, according to the citys Web site.

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