You may have heard that the city has launched community meetings to discuss parking management solutions, including paid parking in downtown Napa. We sat down with Tony Valadez, the City of Napa’s Parking Programs Manager, to hear directly from him on the program and his progress.
What’s the intent of the parking and mobility community meetings?
We want community feedback in the process to develop a holistic parking management program. This includes a paid-parking program that improves circulation and helps incentivize people to use parking garages. We have data illustrating nearly full capacity in the on street and surface parking lots, survey results stating that people are driving around more than 10 minutes to find free parking, employees having to move their car every few hours to avoid tickets, and the fact that future development is going to remove surface parking and create more demand. These issues require improved mobility and parking management so we can have a “park-once” system that serves everyone.
What is the biggest misconception, or fear, that you hear from our community when you talk about a paid parking solution?
I would love for community members to ask me about parking management. There is a misconception that I’m just going to stick parking meters downtown and require everyone to feed the meter. That’s far from the case, and in fact, there are many ways to more conveniently accommodate employees and residents alike through a permitting system. The reality is we’re trying to find a permanent parking solution that will serve everyone: our downtown employees and business owners, locals, and visitors. The solution will include accommodations for downtown employees, a merchant validation system to encourage shopping downtown, improved security in offsite parking locations, and a method to increase turnover in on-street parking spaces to encourage visitor usage.
How is the parking system funded and where would the revenue from a paid parking system go?
The parking system is currently funded in several ways. We receive revenue from the Parking Business Improvement Area, ticketing that covers our enforcement, and general fund monies. As for paid parking, revenue would go back into running the program itself, with any spillover going to finance security and improved transportation demand management infrastructure, such as improved access for pedestrians, bicycles, and EV cars; basically, it goes into improving the experience for everyone who comes downtown. These revenue streams have the potential to develop a sustained financing system that can help with our goal of a “park-once” model and more enjoyable pedestrian mobility.
What’s some background on the parking management initiative?
Over the years, there have been studies, community surveys, and updates to those studies identifying some main, recurring issues: parking is problematic for folks who work downtown because the free all-day lots are usually full after 8:30am, which leads them to park in 2 and 3-hour timed spots where they are at risk of receiving parking citations. It’s an inconvenience to employees and business owners alike. The ideal solution would have all day parking available to downtown employees, therefore making on-street parking available to downtown visitors, as intended. Additionally, if visitors want to park all day as well, the off-street paved lots or parking garages would help serve that need.
What’s your background and how did you get involved?
One of the recommendations of the 2015 parking study was for the City to hire a Parking Manager. In May of 2018, I was hired by the City of Napa as the first Parking Manager to help resolve Napa’s growing parking challenges. My career in parking started January of 2013, parking cars at Disneyland. During my four years there, I worked my way up to the Logistics & Assurance division of the Resort Transportation and Parking department. My job was to ensure each guest had a parking space and transportation to and from the resort. I then transitioned to Parking Management at Anaheim Convention Center. As an employee for the City of Anaheim, I became familiar with the public sentiment that may sound familiar to Napa residents: “It’s Disneyland vs. the residents.” Here in Napa, I hear from our local community that they feel downtown isn’t for them anymore. I am trying to create a program that doesn’t pit residents and visitors against each other – and I truly believe there’s a way to make both parties happy.
How can the community get involved?
Please participate in upcoming community meetings and reach out to me directly. I’m happy to schedule a meeting with anyone that has questions or concerns about the program. Let’s grab some coffee or walk through our beautiful downtown and chat about parking.
We’ll be hosting another public meeting on March 22nd, which will be advertised via the City’s newsletter, website, and social media channels. Meanwhile, you can always email me at [email protected].