San Mateo Downtown Parking update takes shape

On Monday, San Mateo City Council held another study session on changes to downtown parking (staff report here).  San Mateo has a very lively downtown with thriving restaurant scene and move theater.   Topics being considered include increasing meter prices, changing meter hours, improving machine usability, using existing space more efficiently, making garages more attractive and providing users more information about where to find a space, and reaching out to existing property owners to gain access to under-utilized parking.   A final program will be presented to Council for approval at an upcoming meeting. 

The City has a new TMA operating area for the downtown, funded in part by Draper University and other new developments going in.   The staff report recommended, and Council members supported using some of the parking revenue to fund the TMA.   (This will be very helpful in an area where new development is a small fraction of existing development).   The City is also looking to raise the “in lieu fee” for new parking spaces – the current $9,000 fee is well under the cost of a new space, which is $30-$45,000 (and $60,000 for an automated system).

The results of the community outreach appear to be superb. Based on public comment, the program has support from multiple sectors of the community, including neighborhood groups, downtown business association leaders, restaurant/retail businesses, developers, and sustainable transportation supporters.  The tenor of discussion is calm and there are constructive suggestions from community members.
San Mateo has a lively downtown that is not impaired by paid parking, and they are going through an iteration to improve their system.
This blogger made a few suggestions for future phases that were well received, and may pertain to other cities with similar situations
  • For new developments, enable unbundled commercial parking, so tenants can buy what they need, there is an accounting of unused space, and blocks of unused space can be provided back to the public pool without later renegotiation
  • To encourage locals to get downtown without a car, consider extending transit pass discounts to neighborhoods, along the lines of the program that Boulder has and Palo Alto may be starting to consider.  This will take persuasion with the local transit agencies, but is a modest extension of existing transit pass programs
  • Just as the movie theater provides parking validation, offering a parking discount to customers, it would be helpful to provide a “Clipper rebate” to customers who arrive via transit (and leave a parking space free for another customer).  This would be very difficult with the current Clipper program, but MTC is starting to work on the next generation of Clipper this year.   Cities that want to incent people to get downtown without driving may want to give input for the next generation of Clipper


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3 Responses to San Mateo Downtown Parking update takes shape

  1. Jame Ervin says:

    I work in downtown SM. I drive to work, and my office only has a couple of dedicated spots. I have considered transit, but it really doesn’t work from my East Bay location. I’d like to see upgraded signage, with the realtime info on 10 hour spots and 4 hour spots available per lot. Also, the machines are terrible cash only machines.

    But probably my biggest beef is upkeep. I used to park on the 2nd street lot. The lights on the top floor were out for 3 months before being repaired. I called the city, I complained to the downtown association. It still took 3 months to repair some light bulbs. I decided to park in a different lot since it didn’t feel safe to park in the pitch black parking lot (as I typically leave after 6pm).

    Most garages don’t have trash cans, and they are full 90% of the time, so the lots get messy quickly.

    The prices are probably too cheap as well….

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