But if you want to join, the City Council is inviting four members of the public to join a task force to help city and business officials come up with a long-term plan to manage downtown parking.
Apparently, the council decided to expand the the force from nine members and bring in four public members this last Tuesday, according to the Contra Costa Times. The Times adds that Mayor Gary Skrel wanted to set up the plan when he came into office, apparently recognizing that parking continues to be a sensitive hot-button issue. Public perception about the availability of parking has never matched the city's continued claims that downtown parking is actually plentiful--thanks to city and privately owned parking garages, according to a 2006 study.
Councilman Kish Rajan, who is heading this task force, summed up these observations from the study about the downtown parking situation:
--Walnut Creek has established a remarkably successful regional retail center that brings many visitors and sales tax dollars that are critical to keeping our local economy strong.
--Walnut Creek’s residents have an expectation that, in exchange for this commerce we enable, residents should have access to parking that is easy to find
and reasonably priced
--Walnut Creek has a large existing parking supply, but it is not properly aligned to our demand.
--Therefore, before we commit dollars, time and more land to building more parking, we would do well to first maximize the large supply we have today.
Gipes about downtown parking have just grown louder since Broadway Plaza proposed bringing a new department store into Walnut Creek (Neiman Marcus, of course).
The parking task force will be made up of those four community members, plus Councilman Rajan, Mayor Pro Tem Sue Rainey, and members of the planning and transportation commissions and business leaders.
Here's my gripe that I'd like the city to look at (And, no, I can't join the task force because I don't live within the city boundaries, as is required by membership rules): Change its meter holidays to conform to federal, state and city holidays. This so that people won't be ticketed on holidays days, like me and others on Presidents Day this past February--a federal, state, and city holiday--when they could have reasonably expected it to be a meter holiday. With city leaders saying that a new parking management plan should not be just about making money for the city, the task force could show it means this by adopting meter policies that are more common-sense and less punitive and glaringly money-grubbing.
Applications for the task force are due July 20 and can be obtained via the city's website.
According to the city, the task force will be provided with existing background information for downtown parking strategies, evaluate that information, and further develop strategies to make parking improvements, test those strategies through community outreach meets, and make recommendations to the city council for further action.
The task force will begin meeting in August 2009 and meet once or twice a month over the next six to seven months.