By Lillian Boyd, Dana Point Times

After two years of city staff receiving instruction to engage the Dana Point community on parking issues, city council moved forward with adopting the Citywide Parking Implementation Plan during the March 19 council meeting.

In March 2017, staff initiated a contract with Dr. Richard Wilson, an urban planning professor at Cal Poly Pomona, to facilitate a public workshop on parking issues. The following month, city council, the planning commission and city staff met with Wilson to discuss parking issues in regard to supply and management.

“City staff had received feedback from the community on parking concerns in Doheny Village,” said Belinda Deines, a senior planner for City of Dana Point. “The city moved forward in further examining parking issues throughout the city as a whole.”

During the remainder of 2017, staff conducted a community survey, held a workshop and delivered reports to council and the commission. In January 2018, city council established the Parking and Circulation Oversight Task Force, which was defined as an advisory group that would inform council and offer recommendations to address parking and circulation solutions for Dana Point. The following residents and leaders were appointed to the task force: Mayor Joe Muller; Planning Commissioner Eric Nelson; Traffic Improvement Subcommittee Member Luke Boughen; Cindy Fleming, Resident At-Large; and Mike Powers, Business At-Large.

Throughout 2018 and up until this month, the task force discussed marketing strategies, reviewed the city’s parking count and occupancy, parking enforcement “hot spots” and finalized recommendations that came before council.

Additionally, city staff assembled a Technical Advisory Committee to meet quarterly to follow up on items from task force meetings. While the task force’s purpose of delivering recommendations has been served, the advisory committee of staff members will continue to meet to carry out the short-term, mid-term and long-term goals identified in the implementation plan.

In the next 12-18 months, the committee aims to improve public parking marketing to alert drivers of existing lots that are underutilized. Listed short-term goals include publishing interactive, online and app-based parking information.

“The opportunities are endless,” Deines said. “We are currently reaching out to third-party vendors to explore our options. Ideally, drivers could find parking spots through our app and parking enforcement could be improved through the use of technology.”

The city’s public works department will be organizing a garage clean-out to incentivize residents to use garage parking and free up street parking spaces.

Public works had initiated a contract with LLG Engineers to conduct on-street and off-street parking counts and an occupancy study that was conducted in August 2018. The results indicated that between 2008 and 2018, Town Center’s off-street parking supply decreased by 100 stalls and on-street decreased 11 stalls.

According to the city’s implementation plan, best practices in the parking industry suggest an area is constrained whenever an inventory of parking is operating for a sustained period of time in excess of 85 percent occupancy. Last summer, weekend peak hour, off-street occupancy was less than 60 percent in most Town Center areas.

“As new development is constructed, ongoing monitoring will be necessary to evaluate whether additional parking strategies or parking regulation changes are warranted,” the implementation plan said.

The implementation plan’s long-term and ongoing goals include the city entering into lease agreements with private property owners to provide public parking lots, as well as cultivating public-private partnerships to incorporate additional parking stalls during construction phases.

City staff will continue to explore and promote alternative means of transportation to reduce or modify parking demand, as well as research “smart” parking technology.

For a complete description of the plan’s short-term, mid-term and long-term goals, visit danapoint.org for the entire Citywide Parking Implementation Plan and for updates on parking improvement initiatives.

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