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Task force proposes parking solutions

To ease downtown problems, it suggests exploring residential permits, longer meter enforcement and designated structure areas.

February 19, 2014|By Anthony Clark Carpio

The Huntington Beach Downtown Task Force offered a three-pronged approach Feb.13 to parking problems in the area.

Residents have often complained that downtown visitors and some employees tend to park in the neighborhood rather than in the parking structure, and often create noise and other disturbances.

As a response, the committee recommended to the City Council three fixes that could potentially corral visitors into the 830-lot Main Promenade parking structure, between Walnut and Olive Avenue off Third Street.

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Task force members said the council should look into residential permits, extension of the parking-meter enforcement time — from midnight to 2 a.m. — and the feasibility of designating parking spaces on the top level of the parking structure for downtown employees only.

City beach parking and camping supervisor Dottie Hughes told the committee that the structure is generally at capacity during the summer and large events, but usually does not fill up during regular weekend nights.

The city charges a flat rate of $5 after 9 p.m. to park in the structure, and task force member Ron Newman said he is surprised that people were not taking advantage of the low fee.

"The $5 fee for parking in the evening is such a reasonable fee," he said. "I can't believe it doesn't fill up."

The Main Promenade parking structure catered to about 630,000 vehicles during the city's 2012-2013 fiscal year, with about 225,000 customers paying the regular rate, typically $15 maximum for the day, Hughes said. The other users had an annual parking pass, used validated parking or left within the 30-minute grace period.

However, only about 16,000 visitors used the structure after 9 p.m. on the weekends last year.

Downtown residents have for years thought about the benefits of permit parking and some are beginning to push the city for it.

Councilwoman Connie Boardman said a mechanism for such a change is already in place, but it would be somewhat of a complicated procedure for downtown.

The difficulty lies with the streets in the coastal zone, where the California Coastal Commission oversees activities.

If a street is located outside the agency's jurisdiction, 67% or more of the residents on the street need to agree, by way of a survey, to permit parking. Once that is achieved, it is just a matter of the city placing new signs on the street and handing out placards to residents.

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