Archive for Sunday, September 11, 2016

City to develop its first comprehensive parking plan

A line of parking meters is pictured in this file photo from May 2007.

A line of parking meters is pictured in this file photo from May 2007.

September 11, 2016


Coin-fed meters and hand-placed tickets have been the basis of downtown Lawrence parking for decades, but modern updates — including the potential for a smart system where spots can be reserved electronically — are on their way. The updates are part of a plan to solve longstanding parking problems throughout the city.

“One of the issues is simply technology,” said Brandon McGuire, assistant to the city manager. “The metering system is in large part the same system that was in place 60-70 years ago.”

Changes to downtown parking and other high-density areas will be part of the city’s first comprehensive parking plan. At its most recent meeting, the City Commission voted to make a request for proposals to create a plan for the operation and development of the parking system downtown, in east Lawrence and neighborhoods adjacent to the University of Kansas.

Mayor Mike Amyx said the problems created by the city’s lack of a comprehensive plan are evident, and that development in those areas have increased the demand for parking.

“I think it’s fairly apparent that problems exist because the streets are full of parked cars,” Amyx said. “On one hand, it’s a good problem to have because there are a lot of people in and around our downtown, but obviously it puts a lot of pressure elsewhere for parking, especially during big event times.”

As part of the strategic plan, consultants will do a three-step process: conduct a comprehensive evaluation of the existing parking system, facilitate forums for stakeholder input, and develop a strategic plan document for management of the system.

“I think it’s wise to take a moment and really look at the strengths and weaknesses of our parking system and get recommendation on how we can make it better — have somebody from the outside look in and just really give us a comprehensive look at it,” Amyx said.

Accounting for development

Increasing development will likely be a big part of the parking analysis. Downtown, East Lawrence and KU neighborhoods have all gained hundreds of additional residents as multiple large-scale apartment complexes have been built in recent years. Part of the strategic planning will mean adopting clear parking policies when it comes to new developments, McGuire said.

“There has been lots of infill development, which is a great thing, but it does have an impact on the public parking system and also the private parking system,” McGuire said. “That’s really where one of the big policy discussions will happen for the City Commission.”

The city's current zoning law doesn't require downtown businesses or apartment projects to provide any off-street parking. All developments, both new and existing, can legally rely solely on public parking spaces throughout downtown.

As far as parking issues in neighborhoods, one possibility that has come up is a residential parking permit. McGuire said such a permit will be one of the considerations, and that input from stakeholders such as residents, developers and KU will all be part of that discussion.

“I’m not exactly sure what that would look like — we want to let the data and the stakeholder feedback drive those considerations,” McGuire said.

Parking possibilities

McGuire said looking at technology is going to be a central part of the study, and possibilities will go beyond additional electronic payment stations, which allow patrons to pay with credit cards. Currently, the only places where downtown parkers can pay via credit card at electronic payment stations in the Vermont and New Hampshire street parking garages.

“So looking at technology is going to definitely be one of the central points of the study,” McGuire said.

Additional options could be the incorporation of online, app-based or automated ways to reserve parking. Hundreds of cities use electronic reservation systems across the county, including Minneapolis, Denver and Cincinnati. Traditional parking is still an option, but patrons can also reserve spots for specific time periods via online platforms, smartphone apps or an automated phone system.

Amyx said the study would help commissioners decide what kinds of technology would work in Lawrence.

“It’s brand new to me and brand new to our community,” Amyx said. “It’s something that before I make a commitment, I’m going to have to have a real understanding of what that part of the program entails. I’ll look at that pretty close, and I’m willing to bring all things forward.”

Community input

Throughout the process, there will be chances for community members to provide feedback on the parking plan, including facilitated forums.

“I think the opportunity here as we go through this is there’s going to a be a lot of stakeholder engagement, and I think that’s important,” Amyx said. “It’s all kinds of people that will be involved in that.”

For both downtown and neighborhoods, the proposal states the primary goals are to make parking more efficient and effective, but also ensure equity. McGuire explained that the equity consideration will mean looking at how policies and prices will affect residents, as well as downtown employees and patrons.

Once the plan is complete, it will be part of a City Commission work session, during which time feedback can be given as part of the public comment portion of the session.

McGuire said the city staff hopes to recommend a parking consultant to the City Commission sometime next month, and that the final comprehensive plan will be complete by summer, in order to be included in the 2018 budget process.


Tony Peterson 1 year, 9 months ago

This has been needed for a LONG time. There has been a push over the last decade for in-fill and increasing population density in the downtown area but there has never been a plan to address how an area constrained by two neighborhoods, the river, and South Park was going to be able to accommodate all the additional vehicles.

I live in East Lawrence on the edge of downtown and have to park on the street. Last night I got home at 9 p.m. and after driving around finally found a parking spot a block away from my house. Once the apartments going in on top of Pachamama's are done I'll be searching for a parking spot two or three blocks away from my front door.

David Holroyd 1 year, 9 months ago

This study is yet another study. Would the Journal World take the time to acquire all of the studies done regarding parking downtown in the past 10 years?

If the end result is not any better than the HERE metered parking, then this current study proposal is a joke.

The city commisson gave away street spaces on city rightaway to HERE. You see, after 6pm the parking is FREE.

Mr. Boley won't be getting anything from the meters toward "affordable housing" (the latest scam) from the HERE meters from 6pm to 8am.

This parking study is a sure way to insure the necessity for another parking garage operated very poorly like the one at the library. The new garage will benefit the down the road development of the Simons family property,,,if they can pawn it off on someone.

WHERE IS THE STUDY TO bring JOBS to Lawrence? The current jobs at the Chamber, funded by the public,,,aren't enough. Nepotism at City Hall doesn't get the job done either.

And now with the latest scheme pulled off and endorsed by the city commission, a parking study won't even have to be bid. Mr. Markus can approve the pay up to $50,000. Simple...phase 1, phase 2 and phase 3 at the cost of $150,000, without approval of the city commisson. Will the study take into consideration the number of spaces at HERE? Will the study for the city be done by the HERE parking consultants that were hired.

If FREE parking downtown at night continues as is now,,,the study is a waste of time. Public land, public garages are all being poorly handled assets by the city commission.

A study is needed to tell the commission that another garage is needed? Just asking?

Zoe Flowers 1 year, 9 months ago

Curious as to what they mean by reserving parking spots. Which spots are they talking about? The parking garages, metered spots, or public free parking lots? They could do like a woman "reserving" a spot in the public parking lot behind Chipotle last weekend before the first KU football game. The parking lot was packed and she stood there in a spot for 10 minutes refusing to let any one of the dozens of cars circling for a spot to pull in even if they honked. Finally her friends came and pulled right on into their "reserved" spot.

Jerome Bradley 1 year, 9 months ago

That is just someone being an @$$hole. Should have found a parking meter reader or police officer and they would have ended that crap real quick.

I think reserved in the sense the article is talking about is booking a spot online or via an app to "reserve" a parking spot that requires you to pay still for the spot, you just do not have to physically be there before getting a spot. Not sure how that would work out.

brent flanders 1 year, 9 months ago

No study is needed.

Simply fly to Chicago (or other major city) and visualize/understand how they use technology to handle "real" downtown parking issues.

This is 2016, the technologies available and convenience provided to both the community (parkers) and the city are ridiculously obvious.

Richard Quinlan 1 year, 9 months ago

I have moved to scottsdale arizona , old town downtown , no effing meters at all , seems to work fine. Cant figure out why Lawrence is so attached meters and parking enforcement , doesnt make any money , just a ritual we all go thru. A major waste of energy and time.

Chris Bohling 1 year, 9 months ago

I'm really glad they decided to do this as soon as I bought a house near downtown so that I never actually have to worry about downtown parking!

Kevin Kelly 1 year, 9 months ago

Hopefully there will be some ideas presented that can help ease the increasing pressure on the neighborhoods surrounding KU. KU gets bigger and KU's parking shrinks but our neighborhood streets that KU uses as student parking lots have stayed the same size and are becoming increasingly busy.

David Holroyd 1 year, 9 months ago

The study will result in half baked plans and still cost the taxpayers more for garages that are not being paid for at night. Downtown needs to have paid parking 24/7.

The bottom line is this: Get anyone and everyone you know to go to 25th and Iowa and look at that strip of concrete poured in the middle of the street, 25th and ask yourself the following:

Are the commissioners so dense that this could happen?

With that in mind...Mr. Kelley, you have no chance in your neighborhood except a convoluted plan like HERE got where they took a city street right of way...put in angled parking and now collect the money from the meters. In your neighborhood, Mr. Boley is just gushing at that idea as he can see more money for affordable housing...and it won't be to make your house affordable Mr. Kelley.

Ask yourself if the best the commission can do is not obstruct a street that leads to a controlled intersection with a traffic light and not know why.

There is no hope...5 commissioners and they cannot figure out or explain why that strip of concrete is in the middle of an already narrow street...It is beyond comprehension. Those businesses south of 25th, PieFive and rest of them should sue the city and SIT IN! each and every week until the concrete is removed. If Mayor Amyx would get some cahonies,,he would get a motion on the floor and get if passed and rip the concrete out!

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