The Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District will have to create, and adhere to, a new transportation plan if they want to avoid a significant increase in the price of parking downtown.

SMMUSD employees are a heavy user of monthly keycards at the Civic Center lot with about 200 monthly cards in use by the district, and Council approved rate increases this week that could cost SMMUSD $209,000 a year. In response to concerns about that kind of impact on the school budgets, Council directed staff to provide options for the district to save money, but only if SMMUSD showed a commitment to traffic reduction.

“They haven’t really been serious about it, understandably they’ve been dealing with the whole Malibu unification issue and PCBs,” said Mayor Pro Temp Ted Winterer. “I mean they’ve had other things on their plate but it’s time for them to start pulling an oar on the same boat we’re all in, in terms of trip reduction.”

If the district develops a Transit Demand Plan before January 1, 2017, then they could be exempt from a 50 percent price hike on monthly access. If they fail to develop a plan by January 1 their price would increase but if the plan were to be in place by July 1, they could avoid a second increase of 64 percent. If the district were to secure a discounted rate, its continuance would be contingent on their adherence to the TDM.

The Santa Monica High School Campus plan calls for additional parking on site that will eliminate the need for so many parking spaces in the future.

Rate increases at the Civic Center were part of a package presented to council in advance of Expo opening on May 20. Staff said some of Santa Monica’s daily and monthly prices were so below market rates that they could encourage individuals to drive to Santa Monica and take the train rather than drive to Los Angeles.

“While we want people to ride Expo in large numbers, we do not want to encourage daily park and ride activity which has the potential to add trips to our already congested downtown street network, and uses a parking space all day by people that are not visiting or working at Santa Monica establishments,” said parking administrator Jason Kligier.

In addition to approving a rate increase at the Civic Center, Council also authorized changes to the monthly keycard program and signaled approval for staff to initiate price hikes throughout downtown. Unless otherwise noted, Staff said the new rates would likely be in place by July 1.

At structures 1 through 9 and the Ken Edwards Center, the free time would remain 90 minutes. The next hour would increase by 25 cents to $1.25, each additional 30 minutes would increase from $1.50 to $1.85 and the daily maximum would increase from $14 to $17.50.

All access monthly rates would increase by $16 to $176, weekday only rates would increase by $12 to $132 and weekend/weeknights would increase by $7.50 to $82.50. The $65 monthly passes available for tenants of affordable housing would be unchanged.

In Parking Structure 10 and Downtown Lots 27-30, each 30 minutes will increase by 25 cents to $1.25 and the daily maximum will increase from $14 to $17.50. The monthly weekday rate will increase by $12 to $132 with weeknight/weekend rates increasing by $7.50 to $82.50.

The free period at the Civic would remain 30 minutes. Additional time would increase from $1 an hour to $1 for the first hour and $1.50 for every additional 30 minutes. The daily maximum on weekdays would increase from $5 to $14.

Staff said the Civic lot is underutilized on weekends and recommended keeping the daily maximum at $5 during weekends.

All access monthly passes would increase from $65 to $97.50 on January 1, 2017 and then increase again to $160 on July 1, 2017.

The weeknight and weekend keycards would increase from $50 to $75 on January 1, 2017.

In addition to the price increase, Council approved changes to the way keycards are sold and used. Sale of monthly cards will be restricted to individuals that live or work downtown. Cards will be site specific, limiting the holder to one or two potential structures.

Rates at the Downtown Library are unchanged and slightly lower than the rest of the City. Staff said this encourages parking on the outskirts of Downtown but the situation will be monitored to see if it needs revisions at a later date. Parking rates at the beach lots were also unaffected by the May 10 decision with the same understanding that future revisions might be necessary.