Fish Out of Water

Musings and observations about life from an East Coast native now living on the Left Coast in the California State Capitol since 2004. This fish has made her home in Madison, WI (7 years); Portland, OR (2 years); Las Vegas, NV (7 months); Middlebury, VT (3 summers); Marne-la-Vallee, a small town east of Paris, France (6 months); Middletown, CT (3 years); and Marshfield, MA, the fish's coastal hometown 40 miles south of Boston (17 years).

Location: Sacramento, California, United States


Day 20: Parking Options

Like many urban areas, Sacramento struggles with issues related to parking - availability, amount, cost, duration, residents vs. visitors, etc.  Street parking in Downtown and Midtown can be challenging at times, and the City has been experimenting with various types of parking mechanisms and controls over the past few years.

At one point, many of the coin-fed meters at individual parking spots were replaced with "Pay & Display" solar-powered machines that allow drivers to use cash, debit, or credit cards to pay for a parking sticker of a certain duration:

One advantage of the Pay & Display mechanism is that a purchased ticket can be utilized in other Pay & Display areas if the ticket is still valid, so drivers can potentially purchase a ticket on one block, take care of whatever business brought them there, and then relocate to another block for additional tasks or errands.

Recently, the individual parking meters around Roosevelt Park across from our townhouse were replace by these Pay & Display machines.  Oddly enough, however, the Pay & Display machines around Cesar Chavez Park across from the City Hall were re-replaced by individual parking meters (perhaps Roosevelt Park inherited the cast-off Pay & Display machines?).  These new individual meters appear to be solar-powered, and I believe they're the kind that can regulate the cost of parking based on supply and demand (i.e. more expensive during times of greater demand), but it still seems a bit wasteful to keep swapping out different types of parking controls.

As I walked back to the office from the Central Library this afternoon, I saw a City worker toting an old Pay & Display machine out of the parking lot next to the Fire Station.  I guess it needed a replacement, as another Pay & Display machine is still in the usual spot by the parking lot entrance.

I'd be curious to know which type of parking controls are most effective and efficient, both for drivers and for the City.  Parking of any kind was always an important issue to consider for any project (residential or commercial) during my time on the Planning Commission, and I was fascinated to learn about different parking studies and "unintended" consequences of providing too much "free" parking.


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