Can’t attend the workshop? Click here to take a survey.Click here for the Press Release Click here for the Parking Workshop Flyer Click here for May 2015 Parking Study prepared by Fehr & Peers Click here for October 2015 Parking Report prepared by Parking Solutions Working Group
Parking can be difficult to find in and around the medical offices, shops, and services in Los Alamitos. As the City of thrives, demand for visitor parking is increasing. The prevalence of employees and business owners occupying on-street parking limits the potential for business growth and expansion by reducing parking spaces that could be utilized by customers.
Parking solutions are needed to ensure convenience and efficiency for business owners, employees, and customers alike.
The City of Los Alamitos is holding a public workshop (see info below) to discuss parking problems and potential solutions in the Medical Center, Old Town East, and Town Center areas.
- When: Tuesday, March 1, 2016, 5:00 p.m.
- Where: Los Alamitos Community Center, 10911 Oak Street
Those who live, work, shop, or visit the area are encouraged to attend, ask questions, and indicate preferences for potential parking solutions. The City will present information and maps to illustrate current parking problems, City objectives, study areas, current and potential time limitations, and additional steps that could be taken in the future.
Additional transportation and planning experts will be on hand to answer questions and guide the workshop. These experts are from the consulting firms Fehr & Peers and PlaceWorks. Both firms were involved in the recently adopted General Plan update for Los Alamitos. Fehr & Peers also prepared a parking study for the City in May 2015.
Additional background information is provided below.
What is the parking problem?
Los Alamitos has a thriving downtown/town center and medical district but is constrained by limited parking supply. A 2015 parking demand study showed that parking occupancy peaked at 85% to 93% from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. with certain streets above 80% most of the day. All day street parking has become the preferred choice for employees in the commercial area of Old Town East and the Medical Center area, as it is conveniently located and free. The result is automobiles parked for long periods of time with little turnover of parking.
Since people tend to shop and dine at the most convenient locations, the lack of parking supply limits business growth and expansion. In addition, the parking supply problem has a direct impact on traffic congestion which affects the community’s quality of life.
Los Alamitos is fortunate to have a vital commercial and medical area parking “problem” as it reflects a thriving environment. Storing cars requires space, and since most downtowns were not designed with ubiquitous automobiles in mind, they simply lack space to store the volume of cars in high demand locations without effective parking management programs to shift parking into underutilized areas. The City of Los Alamitos finds itself in similar circumstances experienced by other communities where parking efficiencies have been effectively maximized with current parking management techniques and parking supply.
What has been done so far? Did the City talk to residents and other stakeholders?
September 2014, Parking Solutions Working Group Established.
The City created a Parking Solutions Working Group (PSWG) consisting of the City Manager, Department Heads, and Police staff to investigate parking solutions for the commercial area of Old Town East and the Medical Center Area. Examples of solutions included increased enforcement, alterations of parking time limits, and parking meters. The PSWG conducted a 7-month process of studying area parking, reviewing national research and best practices, conducting outreach, and refining recommendations.
2014/2015, Stakeholder Interviews.
As an early step in the research, the City Manager and Development Services Director interviewed a cross-section of interested stakeholders: business operators, employers, property owners, developers, neighborhood leaders, public safety staff, parking enforcement personnel and other close observers. Interviews were conducted in-person. Many of these participants have been part of the area for decades.
April / May 2015, Parking Assessment.
To assist in the analysis, the PSWG reached out to the traffic consultant Fehr & Peers, who was familiar with the City via the General Plan. Fehr & Peers developed a parking assessment of the study area, which included an inventory of the current parking supply, the collection of parking data, and an analysis of the parking demand in the Old Town East and Medical Center areas. The results of this study were presented in a May 2015 report, which was provided to the City and PSWG for use in their discussions.
August 2015, Tabletop Stakeholder Meeting.
During the Los Alamitos Traffic Commission meeting on August 12, 2015, area stakeholders gathered around in a table top setting to discuss parking-related issues. Business owners, employees and property owners came together collectively to address parking related solutions within the subject area, including but not limited to, the future installation of parking meters or the implementation of time-limited parking in the area’s public parking spaces.
September 2015, Traffic Commission.
One month following the stakeholder meeting, the Traffic Commission unanimously made the following recommendation:
- That the City enforce the existing 2-hour parking;
- That the City paint/update the existing curb painting;
- That the Traffic Commission reconvene to review in 4 months; and
- That the Traffic Commission strongly recommends that the City Council work with City staff to develop a plan for approaching and working collaboratively with the hospital and other large business owners to alleviate their employees parking in public spaces.
October 2015, City Council Meeting, Recommendations, Expansion of Study Area, and Increased Parking Enforcement.
After reviewing the parking assessment, the PSWG recommended a 4-step process to improve parking conditions at a City Council meeting on October 18, 2015.
Step 1: Increased Enforcement
Step 2: Implement Additional Time Limited Parking
Step 3: Second Parking Assessment
Step 4: Establish Paid (Meter) Parking
The City Council also expanded the study area to include Katella Avenue and Los Alamitos Boulevard, and began increased enforcement of current parking limitations through the hiring of a second Police Aide dedicated to parking enforcement.
November 2015, City Council Consideration of Parking Time Limits and Request for Further Outreach.
The City Council convened on November 16, 2015 meeting to consider establishing time limits throughout the study areas. Before approving any action, the City Council requested additional outreach to the residents in the Old Town East neighborhood to gauge support for the current Residential Permit Parking Program and commercial parking on residential streets.
January 2016, City Council Review of Outreach.
On January 19, 2016, the City Council reconvened to discuss the results of the survey, which was mailed to property owners and hand delivered to tenants in December 2015. Of the 80 households (approximately 200 residents) in the Old Town East neighborhood, the City received 61 completed surveys (32 tenants and 29 property owners). The results are shown below. The City Council requested additional public outreach before further action, leading to the public workshop in March.
Old Town East Parking Survey Questions and Results
Q1. Would you be supportive of allowing nearby business customers and employees to park in front of your home during the hours 6:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.? 92% No
Q2. Do you want the Residential Permit Parking Program to continue in your neighborhood? If yes, please comment if you think that parking time limits (i.e. 2 or 3 hours) could be a good alternative in the neighborhood. 95% Yes
Q3. If the Residential Permit Parking Program were discontinued, would you like to see additional parking in the neighborhood created through installing diagonal, nose-in parking? 61% Yes
What are the current recommendations before City Council?
The PSWG finalized its 4-step recommendation for parking reform to assist in the long term success of the Old Town East, Town Center, and Medical Center areas. This recommendation was based on a deliberate process driven by data, literature review, public input, case studies, and the PSWG members’ acquired understanding of parking principles and best management practices. This recommendation was first presented to City Council in October 2015 as described and illustrated in the following text and map.
Step 1. Increased Enforcement
Parking enforcement does serve an important function in keeping prime parking spaces available to customers. Where enforcement is weak and rates are low, employees will have a tendency to park in a location that is most convenient for them. Customers, arriving later than first-shift employees, can’t park in these convenient spaces and must look a block or two away.
With the recent hire of a second Police Aide dedicated to Parking Enforcement, Staff has implemented this step toward enforcement of area parking. This will assist with a better understanding of the parking situation in the area and will double the enforcement presence.
Enforcement should be increased using guidelines for best management practices. This recent expansion of an officer will improve the customer experience. The City’s 2015-16 Budget provided the funds to hire a Police Aide to perform parking enforcement.
Step 2. Implement Additional Time Limited Parking
It is the PSWG’s belief that improved enforcement and implementation of time limitations will force employees back onto their employer’s site which will then free up much needed parking in the area. As an interim measure, the City’s Staff is proposing to establish time limits (2 hours or 3 hours) that would be strictly enforced with additional police staffing.
The primary alternative that cities can use to create vacancies in prime parking spaces is to set time limits and give tickets to violators. Time limits, however, bring several disadvantages: enforcement of time limits is labor-intensive and difficult.
Area employees, who quickly become familiar with enforcement patterns, often become adept at the “two-hour shuffle”, moving their cars regularly or swapping spaces with a coworker several times during the workday. Even with strictly enforced time limits, if there is no incentive to persuade employees to seek less convenient, bargain-priced spots, employees will probably still park in prime spaces.
Step 3. Second Parking Assessment
After implementing the additional parking enforcement and time limits Staff will then re-evaluate the parking situation in the area and will engage the Parking Consultant to complete a second parking assessment to determine the parking capacity post implementation in the hopes that the peak demand will have been reduced from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Step 4. Establish Paid (Meter) Parking
After the second parking assessment is completed, if parking demand is not reduced to the desired level, City staff will recommend exploring other parking solutions including parking meters. This will ensure parking availability for visitors along the blocks in the subject area that experience the highest parking occupancy rates.
The goal of the paid parking pilot program is a significant reduction in the abuse of time limited spaces by employees who park all day, thereby improving parking space availability for visitors, and ease the overall experience of people who drive to the area.
Existing Parking Limitations
What happens next?
The City Council is waiting for additional public input through the March workshop before further action is taken.