Bridge District residents raise concern over parking costs, availability at City Council meeting

Originally published in the West Sacramento News-Ledger March 8, 2017
City-of-West-Sacramento-620x350Six West Sacramento Bridge District residents expressed concern to the city council on Wednesday, March 1 over rising costs, safety issues and availability of parking associated with new parking meters and a new parking lot the city plans to implement by May.

The council was presented with two options for pricing of the meters and parking permits for the district’s first service parking lot by Chris Dougherty, transportation program specialist for the city and Paul Blumberg, West Sacramento public finance officer. The presentation was approved at the Feb. 15 city council meeting and presented on March 1.

“One [option] just simply sets parking meter rates,” Blumberg said during the presentation. “Our second option is to add a provision that would allow the establishment of a residential parking area. We think that there is a way we can allow folks who buy into the monthly lot also to park on street around their unit.”

The current parking permits are set to expire March 31, but the new permit plan won’t be in place until after April 15, so a 30-day extension was requested.

After consideration of the public comments and the presentation, the council voted to extend the permit expiration date to April 30 and to discuss a third option that could integrate some provisions for more lighting, possible security patrols and to discuss lower rates for resident parking permits, all of which were brought up by the residents who spoke.

Under the proposal, meter rates will follow a structure similar to downtown Sacramento, beginning at a base rate of $1.75 an hour and utilizing a tiered structure that will increase over time. Blumberg said this is to discourage people from parking at the meters for extended periods of time. Special rates will apply during high traffic times such as River Cats games or events at The Barn.

Residents will be able to park anywhere they want after 10 p.m. when the meters are no longer functioning.

The biggest concern for most residents was the jump in price from $10 a year for a parking permit to $60 a month under the new proposal.

“It feels odd to charge residents to park in a lot when there’s so much parking available, especially when it’s free in Sacramento,” said Jessica Kriegel, a property owner in the bridge district.“I wish that the council would consider changing the removal of the residential parking permits because I think that piece is what’s not fitting well in this situation.”

Another major concern was that residents weren’t communicated with by the city or the planning organizations for these new parking changes. Blumberg outlined that community outreach would be a part of the plan after the rates are approved.

Security concerns were brought up by several of the residents who spoke.

“I work at Starbucks and I leave my apartment at three in the morning and walking to my car, if we have the lot on 5th and Bridge, me walking that distance in the dark, I don’t think my husband would be too fond of that,” Joanne Maier said.

The $60 per month permit cost for the new parking lot was another concern many of the speakers brought up. Maier said her husband is a truck driver who will be taking a pay cut soon with less work and that she’s pregnant and will lose money while on maternity leave.

Another resident, Sean Tooke, explained that he is a student who commutes to San Francisco three or four days a week and leaves early in the morning. He said he is concerned about security, but is more concerned with the cost because he doesn’t make much money as a student.

Many of the residents who spoke live in the new apartment complexes that have sprung up in recent years as part of the area’s rapid expansion, but one couple spoke about living in a nearby house and how parking will be a concern for them once the new parking meters are up and running.

“We have given up the right to park in front of our street or even bring up groceries or anything,” Mari Helmer said. “If I were to have work done in my house, just have the DirecTV guy come or the carpet guy come, my husband has to drive around through the whole Bridge District to see where we could park our car.”

Helmer said parking lots should be included as part of the plan when the city decides to put in new businesses. She said The Barn should have had its own parking lot and that the apartments should have had enough parking within the complexes to accommodate all of their residents.

She also raised concern over firefighters being able to get their trucks down the streets if they are filled with cars parked at the parking meters.

The council consisted of Mayor Pro Tem Mark Johannessen and council members Beverly Sandeen, Quirina Orozco and Christopher Ledesma. Mayor Christopher Cabaldon was not present. The city council will revisit the options for the parking meter rates and parking permit structure for residents at its next regularly-scheduled meeting on March 15.

About Daniel Wilson

Daniel has been a writer for over 25 years and recently earned his Bachelor's degree in journalism. Portfolio:
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