DOWNTOWN — Those who work for bosses too cheap to pay for parking Downtown will have some more affordable options come May 1.
Instead of doing the parking shuffle — moving cars every two or three hours to avoid paying parking structure fees or getting a $62 ticket for staying too long — employees can now purchase a monthly pass at one of seven privately-run structures for $30 (plus tax), city officials said Tuesday.
The deal, negotiated by City Hall and the Bayside District Corp., will apply only to off hours. Employees who purchase a monthly pass will be able to park during the week starting at 5 p.m. On the weekends they will be able to park all day.
“Downtown employees will be able to park with peace of mind at economical rates, while shoppers will find more spaces available in public structures and on the street,” said Annette Colfax, transportation demand program manager for City Hall.
“We are hoping by offering more options in Downtown we can reduce incidents of people circling the blocks, creating better circulation, and [saves the city from having to spend] scarce resources on building more structures,” Colfax added.
Employers have complained for years about the lack of affordable parking options for their employees, many of whom work in the restaurants and retail outlets and do not earn enough cash to buy a regular monthly pass from City Hall, which are $82.50 and are expected to rise to $121 if the City Council approves rate increases for the Downtown parking structures outlined in the Walker Parking Study released last year.
Recently, Bayside District Corp., a public-private management company that oversees Downtown for City Hall, formed a parking committee to focus attention on parking issues affecting the Downtown area.
“We understand that parking for people who work in this area has been a daily concern and this private parking option is an immediate, affordable solution for Downtown employees,” said Barbara Bryan, chair of the committee.
Parking passes can be purchased directly from any of the participating private facilities. Space is limited and based on availability. A map identifying each of the structures is available online at www.downtownsm.com.
Shoppers can also purchase a pass or pay an hourly rate.
Colfax said new signs alerting drivers that the private structures are open for business should be installed in the coming weeks.
Jill Miller, store manager at the clothing boutique Mudra on the Third Street Promenade, said she is looking forward to purchasing a parking pass that she can use on the weekends. During the week she parks in a nearby, city-owned structure and pays $7 a day. That could rise to $9.
“I’ve been here for almost 20 years and I can’t get a pass. I haven’t been able to afford it,” Miller said. “I’m off tomorrow so I am going to start calling these places and take a look to see where the structures are located. I hope they’re close.”
Miller often works late at night and does not want to walk far to get to her car because of concerns for her safety. That is partly the reason why she hasn’t purchased a monthly pass at the Santa Monica Library.
“It’s not that I’m afraid,” she said, “it’s just that lugging a laptop around and other stuff, it’s not so hot.”
The private structures are all located within walking distance of the promenade. Three are on Wilshire Boulevard between Ocean Avenue and Fourth Street. The others are located in the 1300 block of Second Street, the 400 block of Santa Monica Boulevard, the 100 block of Broadway and the 1200 block of Ocean Avenue.
Umberto Avalos, a front officer manager at the Georgian Hotel on Ocean Avenue, said Tuesday he will circulate the information on the new parking passes to employees to see if anyone is interested. He said the hotel purchases parking passes for employees and subsidizes bus passes.
“We don’t have many employees who start after 5 p.m., but for those who do, [the new parking passes] might be an option,” he said.