At their meeting Tuesday, Lawrence city commissioners will consider a parking plan that calls for widespread changes to how the city handles parking in downtown and surrounding neighborhoods.
The 62-page plan covers a dozen neighborhoods in the city’s core and makes 30 recommendations, such as the addition of electronic payments and reservations; a boot and tow policy; residential permits; and increased fines and fees.
In general, city staff said the consultant-led plan lays out a more comprehensive approach to dealing with the city’s parking issues. Brandon McGuire, assistant to the city manager, said a big part of the plan is modernizing the way parking is managed.
“So things like new metering technology that allows somebody to pay with something other than just a nickel, dime or quarter,” McGuire said. “We think that type of a system is going to go a long way to cutting down on the number of tickets that we issue.”
The plan based its recommendations on a study that identified specific parking issues. The plan will guide the city’s development and management of parking operations and facilities over the next 10 years. Once approved, it will be the city’s first long-term parking plan.
McGuire said that one of the overarching concerns identified in the study was the lack of available on-street parking in East Lawrence and the neighborhoods surrounding the University of Kansas. Though the plan recommends a neighborhood parking permit program to address the issue, McGuire said such programs would be limited and up to the individual neighborhoods.
“It would be a minimum number of streets and blocks that would petition and request a permit to be applied to their localized area,” he said.
McGuire said other localized issues include parking in what he called the New Hampshire Street corridor, which is home to several new multistory apartment complexes. He said businesses in that area indicated they are dramatically impacted by the intensity of the development and lack long-term parking for employees and customers. McGuire said an example of a recommendation that could address that issue would be changing five-hour meters to 10-hour meters or adding meter technology that would allow reservations.
The City Commission will decide whether to approve the plan on Tuesday, but approval does not bind the city to enact the recommendations contained in the report. Recommendations that require substantial purchases or changes to city ordinances will require future approval from the City Commission, and McGuire said many will also depend on the context of the budget.
“We would still have to go through the process of developing our own ordinances, and then getting public input on those and having the City Commission adopt them in the future,” McGuire said.
The plan is informed by an analysis of the city’s parking system and resident feedback. The study area encompasses a dozen neighborhoods, including downtown, East Lawrence, Old West Lawrence and the Oread Neighborhood, and feedback from residents, real estate developers, business owners and downtown employees was collected.
The recommendations are broken into two phases, the first of which would be of nominal cost and could be implemented within six months. The recommendations in the second phase are typically more expensive, and timelines for implementation range from one to four years. The full parking plan is available on the city’s website, lawrenceks.org.
The City Commission will convene at 6 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall, 6 E. Sixth St.