Parking Structure 3

The City Council will consider upping the cost to park in downtown’s aging parking structures while maintaining the 90 minutes grace period at Tuesday’s public meeting.

The conversation comes as the Promenade experiences an unprecedented number of empty storefronts and the city deals with declining revenue from parking as more commuters leave their cars at home.

The new rates will increase city profits between $3 million and $5 million, according to a recent report by principal administrative analyst Michael Towler.

“The anticipated revenues would primarily recover the revenues lost over the last 1-2 years” because of changing mobility patterns, the report said.

Staff wrote the proposed changes will likely shift commuters to less expensive structures outside of the Downtown core. The Civic Center structures and Civic Auditorium lots are just $14 maximum during the week and $5 on weekends, as opposed to $20 and $25 downtown.

The CEO of Downtown Santa Monica, Inc, Kathleen Rawson, wrote to the City Manager in February that any increased revenue from parking could go back into maintaining the garages and funding alternative transportation options Downtown. DTSM fought to preserve the 90 minute grace period for visitors. The Promenade saw a 7 percent decrease in sales between 2015 and 2016, according to Rawson.

“For customers who arrive by vehicle, public parking structures form the first and last impression of Third Street Promenade and Downtown Santa Monica,” said Rawson in the letter. “Currently, the structures exhibit signals of significant deferred maintenance (e.g. inoperable elevators, peeling/scuffed paint, patchwork flooring materials).”

In fact, a recent six-month analysis found on average 3 out of 22 elevators (13 percent) are inoperable on a daily basis. In particular, the third elevator in structure 2 is out of order 70 percent of the time. In structure 5, two out of three elevators were inoperable for all of February, and for two days the structure was without a single working elevator.

The need for reinvestment was echoed by Misti Kerns, the President, and CEO of Santa Monica Travel and Tourism.

“Through my conversations with various businesses around the city, I have come to believe that pricing changes based on historical data and previous rate changes have a positive impact on tourism,” Kerns said in a letter to the Council.

The current staff recommendations include extending a pilot Downtown employee discount validation program through June 30, 2019, but shifting commuters from structures one and three (on Fourth Street) to structures 9 and 10 (north of Wilshire). The City’s traffic and parking manager will decide how many parking permits will be allowed for commuters and residents who live in buildings without on-site parking. The monthly pass will likely cost $220 for structures one through eight and the Ken Edwards Center. Permits for Structure 9 would be $187 a month.

The City Council will begin discussion of public agenda items no earlier than 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 24 inside City Hall Council Chambers, 1685 Main Street Room 213.


Kate Cagle

Senior reporter for the Santa Monica Daily Press