The first draft of a city parking plan recommends dozens of changes to the way the city operates parking in and around downtown, including the addition of electronic payments, a boot and tow policy, residential permits and increased fees.
The consultant-led plan will guide the city’s development and management of parking operations and facilities over the next 10 years. Once complete, it will be the city’s first long-term parking plan.
A memo from the city manager’s office to the City Commission notes that a finding highlighted in the draft report is the city’s “relatively passive” approach to managing parking.
“The lack of a central and active management approach has hindered the city’s ability to respond to evolving expectations and needs,” the memo states.
The city’s public parking systems downtown currently include metered spaces, free two-hour lots, permitted 10-hour lots, and three parking garages. Generally, there is no requirement for new development downtown to provide additional parking, and no permitting systems are in place for the on-street parking in adjacent neighborhoods.
The memo goes on to say that the recommendations outlined in the draft 10-year plan would help the city provide a more responsive level of parking services “while remaining sensitive to factors that make Lawrence unique.”
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.
That feedback identified a wide range of issues both downtown and in neighborhoods bordering downtown and the University of Kansas. Issues include a shortage of long-term parking downtown and spillover of parking from downtown into adjoining neighborhoods. The residential parking shortages caused by the conversion of single-family homes into apartments is also noted.
“Parking expectations and needs are diverse in the community, some are even in conflict,” the memo states. “The recommended changes represent compromise on many important issues.”
There are 29 recommendations listed in the draft parking plan. 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.
Several of the recommendations are listed below. A full list is available on the city’s website, lawrenceks.org.
Phase I recommendations, in part:
• Establish a boot and tow policy to deal with habitual parking violators
• Establish a residential permit parking policy for the city’s neighborhoods
• Review zoning ordinance requirements regarding downtown residential parking
• Eliminate the designation of on-street parking spaces for use only by the residents of one particular property
• Forbid charter bus and other large vehicle parking within designated neighborhoods
• Replace existing 5-hour meters with 10-hour meters
• Change 15- and 30-minute meters to 2-hour meters
• Investigate the potential of adding parallel parking on the west side of Rhode Island Street
Phase II recommendations, in part:
• Add multi-space, pay-by-plate kiosks on-street, which would permit license plate enforcement, use of credit cards and cell phone payments
• Add multi-space, pay-by-plate kiosks in the off-street parking facilities
• Acquire software or develop a web portal allowing for online payment of parking violations and purchasing of monthly/annual parking permits
• Establish a monthly (overnight) permit for downtown residents in one of the garages
• Extend meter hours in active areas to 9 p.m. on weekdays and Saturdays
• Increase the rate charged on Massachusetts Street from $0.50 per hour to $1 per hour
• Increase the rate charged at 10-hour meters and 10-hour garage spaces to $0.20 per hour
• Increase permit rates from $192 per year to $240 per year
• Increase initial fines for metered/timed parking violations to $10, and on repeat offenders to $100, with booting/towing automatically after three unpaid tickets
The draft plan is being presented to the City Commission at its meeting Tuesday for feedback and additional public input. The final report will be presented for adoption at a subsequent meeting this summer.
The City Commission will convene at 5:45 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall, 6 E. Sixth St.