Major changes to parking in Sacramento could mean higher prices, stiffer restrictions

Parking in the central city is going to get more expensive and restrictive, if a number of proposed changes make it past the Sacramento City Council next month, SN&R has learned.

The developing plan includes the possibility of scrapping the 6 p.m. start time for free parking on city streets and moving it significantly later, to 2 a.m.

The shrinking of free parking hours into a 2 a.m.-to-8 a.m. block could also be extended through all seven days of the weeks, eradicating the amnesty parking that city dwellers have gotten used to on Sundays.

There’s also talk of discontinuing or modifying the no-cost holiday parking hours that are available between Thanksgiving and December 25 in Midtown, downtown and Old Sacramento, according to a “Parking Meter Program & Rate Briefing” document obtained by SN&R.

One possibility might be shifting free holiday parking into city-owned garages, said Valerie Mamone-Werder, the senior manager of business development at the Sacramento Downtown Partnership.

Mamone-Werder briefed SN&R on the upcoming proposals on Wednesday, following a meeting in which city parking manager Matt Eierman presented the plan to DSP’s board of directors.

“They came and presented today,” said Mamone-Werder, who described the board’s feedback as largely positive. “We’re really excited.”

The possible tweaks to free street parking are just ideas at the moment, Mamone-Werder explained, and won’t be voted on next month.

“That is up for discussion and then they will follow council’s lead,” Mamone-Werder said of the possible changes to free parking during evening and holiday hours.

But the council will be asked to cast their support behind two changes to the city’s parking infrastructure, including a proposed rate increase that will bump up metered, on-street parking by 50 cents, to $1.75 an hour—or 35 cents per 12 minutes.

“It’s definitely time for a rate increase,” Mamone-Werder said.

The second major action item to be considered is a proposed pilot program called Special Parking Over Time, or SPOT. The “dynamic pricing model” would allow city residents and visitors to extend their hours of parking beyond the metered limit of two hours, as long as they’re willing to pay premiums.

Here’s how it would work:

Hours one and two would stay at the new market rate of $1.75 per hour. If someone wanted to keep the space for a third hour, they would have to pay $3. For every additional hour after that, the space would cost $3.75.

People would be able to purchase these additional hours at the meter or through a mobile app, Mamone-Werder said.

These SPOT zones would be tried out in Midtown and Old Sacramento for a period of 30 to 60 days, she said, with the idea of expanding them throughout the central city if they’re deemed successful.

While those are the two items council members will be asked to vote on next month, city parking officials are also expected to seek input on some additional items.

They include the implementation of an “event-pricing model” for on-street parking when the new downtown arena opens next summer. The closer someone parks to the arena during event days, the more they would pay for longer-term parking.

The first hour of parking would still be $1.75. But if someone planned to stay longer, they would be able to pay a flat-rate option of $15 in the zone closest to the arena; $10 in the secondary zone; and a $5 flat rate in the outer zone furthest from the arena.

All told, the proposed changes are expected to increase meter revenues by 10 percent to 25 percent, Mamone-Werder said.

City parking officials declined to be interviewed about what they consider a still-developing plan.

“We should have the details finalized in a few weeks prior to going to Council,” said Marycon Razo, a spokeswoman in the city manager’s office.

She added that the city was still in the process of vetting its ideas and conducting outreach.

Midtown Business Association Executive Director Emily Baime Michaels described her group as being preliminarily supportive of the SPOT zones and 50-cent bump in meter rates.

“[B]ut we’d love to hear from your readers and our customers to determine their thoughts on the increase,” she wrote in an email. “We are working through evening parking enforcement and holiday parking, the current proposal does not yet meet our needs.”

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