Sacramento City Council OKs plan for extending parking meter hours downtown

New parking meters near Sacramento's City Hall in Sacramento on Tuesday, February 4, 2014.
New parking meters near Sacramento's City Hall in Sacramento on Tuesday, February 4, 2014.

The Sacramento City Council on Tuesday night approved extending parking meter hours to 10 p.m. in large portions of downtown, but held off temporarily on a proposal to extend meter hours to 8 p.m. in a section of midtown.

The council also backed off extending meter hours past 6 p.m. in the R Street corridor until city officials could consult with businesses there and in midtown – particularly restaurants – about the effects the extension may have on them and their customers.

Parking officials said they will begin switching some meters to 10 p.m. in the next few weeks. The full changeover will take seven months to implement.

Several downtown business owners, including restaurant representatives, said they felt they haven’t had their voice heard on an issue that will dramatically alter the way downtown parking takes place at night.

The council decision allows city staff to launch plans to prepare for an overhaul of city downtown parking operations in the coming months in preparation for nighttime events at Golden 1 Center when it opens in October.

The city parking staff made the request for extended hours as part of an effort to manage growing demand for street parking downtown as the city’s entertainment districts grow.

Parking Chief Matt Eierman said night metering should prompt more drivers to park in city garages, making metered spaces available for people who want shorter-term parking, decreasing the number of cars circling blocks looking for parking.

The city also is counting on robust parking revenue to finance the city’s $255 million investment in the arena. The arena financing plan requires the city to increase parking revenue for the next five years, with a peak new net revenue of $5.3 million in 2019.

The city plan is to extend meters to 10 p.m. from Front Street in Old Sacramento to the west side of 16th Street, and from C Street to W Street.

Staff had proposed extending meter hours to 8 p.m. in a smaller zone in midtown from the east side of 16th Street to the east side of 19th Street, and from C to W streets. Those changes were postponed for up to 120 days for more discussion.

Time limits on non-metered street parking spots also will be enforced those same later hours throughout the central city to protect residential neighborhoods from out-of-area visitors coming downtown at night for events.

The city also will begin introducing SpotZone technology, which allows drivers to pay at the meter or via smartphone app for extra hours at higher rates.

The current hourly meter rate in Sacramento is $1.75. Under the proposal, at a two-hour meter, drivers can pay for a third hour at $3 and a fourth hour at $3.75. City parking garages typically charge $3 an hour.

Tony Bizjak: 916-321-1059, @TonyBizjak

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