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July 12, 2009

Got a gripe about Walnut Creek parking? Join the city's new task force ...

... Or at least pay attention to what the task force is up to.

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.

23 comments:

Koka Sexton said...

The metered parking policy needs to change. Though I live in Concord, I am in Walnut Creek often and the confusing dates that the meters run on are ridiculous. They should be set to some regular standard.

I do think that the metered parking is a good idea though as a way fpr the city o continue making money. Concord should do something along the same lines.

Anonymous said...

As a Walnut Creek resident who frequents downtown, I've said this before and I'll say it again, I've never had a problem parking, including during the holiday season. If you insist on using metered parking on the street right in the middle of downtown, of course parking is tight. If you're not lazy and can walk 5 to 10 minutes, there's plenty of parking on the street and in the garages.

Anonymous said...

OK, lazy suburbanites; Ride Your Bike!

Anonymous said...

Interesting that graduates of Walnut Creek's Citizen Institute got a heads up on the application process for this task force before the general public. You think that the City Council really wants to appoint anyone to this group who has not already been trained by them? Doubtful that those who have spoken out publicly against downtown development, traffic and parking issues will make the cut and if they did, they would be the lone voice in the group that did not have a vested interest in the results.

SM, you did not publish the positions of all of those who will be participating besides Councilman Rajan and Mayor Pro Tem
Sue Rainey. This group is to also include a member of the Council appointed Planning and Transportation Commissions, and also representatives from the Downtown Business Association, Chamber of Commerce, Broadway Plaza and a property owner of a private downtown parking garage.
Oh, and then throw in four members of the "general" public picked by the Council. Good luck getting any real input from the general public at large that the Task Force might consider.

City Hall is sponsoring yet another dog and pony show to make us feel good about how well they
"listen". How nice that the "council decided to expand the force from nine members and bring in four public members". Good luck to all who apply. Just don't be disappointed when you don't get included on the short list.

Nothing ever changes in this town.

Soccer Mom said...

Anon 8:41 p.m. Thanks for your comment.

I've asked for the names of the task force participants, but was told the list had not been finalized yet. Maybe you have other information.

I figured it would include someone from the Downtown Business Association.

You mentioned an owner of one of the local parking garages being on the task force. That's interesting, but I wonder if there would be any issue over conflict of interest, and whether someone like that would be required to file a statement of economic interest:

According to The Fair Political Practices Commission (www.fppc.ca.gov/index.html?id=6):

"Unpaid members of boards and commissions and consultants to state and local government agencies also may be required to disclose their personal financial interests if they make or participate in making governmental decisions that could affect their private financial interests."

There are other conflict of interest issues to consider, which are described on the FPPC website.

http://www.fppc.ca.gov/index.html?id=37

Anonymous said...

8:41 did you fill out an application? It's a simple yes or now question.

Anonymous said...

Koka Sexton I don't think revenue generation is the only argument for metered parking. I do realize that the city certainly enjoys the money generated but another aspect is that if forces turnover of the spots by preventing long term parking.

Anonymous said...

Soccer Mom,

This is a copy of the notice that was sent to all graduates of the Walnut Creek Citizens Institute on Friday, July 10th.

You may wish to pose any questions regarding conflict of interest to Gayle Vassar who will probably refer you to the City Attorney. Interesting thought on your part and worth pursuing for sure.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Walnut Creek Citizens Institute Alert

"Keeping you connected with YOUR city"






Parking a problem? Be part of the solution!


Downtown Parking Task Force

seeks applications



The City is seeking four enthusiastic residents to serve on a task force focusing on the issues and opportunities to "make parking work" in Downtown Walnut Creek.

The Task Force will begin meeting in August and will meet once or twice a month for 6-7 months.



Task Force members will be provided with existing background information for downtown parking strategies, and will evaluate that information and further develop strategies to address particular issues as they relate to Walnut Creek. The Task Force will then test those strategies through community outreach meetings, and, finally, make recommendations to the City Council for further action.



There will be a total of 12 members on the Task Force; in addition to the citizen representatives, there will be 1 representative each from the Planning commission, Transportation Commission, Downtown Business Association, Chamber of Commerce, Broadway Plaza and a property owner of a private downtown parking garage.



Ideally, the citizen representatives will live in different areas of the City to bring varied experiences and perspectives to this important issue. Task Force members must live within the incorporated city limits.



The deadline to apply is 5 p.m. Monday, July 20. Click for an application. For further information, call John Hall, 943-5899 ext. 2206 or email him at hall@walnut-creek.org



And thank you for continuing to stay involved with your community!



-------- Gayle







City of Walnut Creek

Gayle Vassar

Community Relations Manager

925-943-5899 ext. 2189 vassar@walnut-creek.org






City of Walnut Creek

Gayle Vassar

Job Title

City of Walnut Creek

Gayle Vassar

Job Title

Anonymous said...

Expand the 104 to include Heather Farms Park where there is plenty of parking all day long.

Anonymous said...

"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."

Or you could have simply looked at the sign on the meter clearing denoting which holidays are exempted. For someone who writes so much, you might want to take the time to READ next time.

Anonymous said...

Oh, 10:22 am, whats with the snide comments?

Have you never been in a hurry or distracted while on your way to somewhere and not read all of the rules for parking? Besides, it WAS a holiday that was being observed by the City to boot. One could very easily quite honestly assume that since federal, state and local offices were closed that it would be an official holiday for parking meters. Since Soccer Mom was not the only one who was busted on that day it seems that the City should alter their rules to fit their holiday schedule.

Would like to know if the meter attendants were being paid on straight time or holiday pay and if the amount of ticket revenue on the day in question was enough to pay their salaries. If not, then by all means change the rules to fit the city holiday schedule!

Anonymous said...

10:35pm

I was caught by this type of meter holiday glitch in Santa Cruz a couple of years ago on a government holiday that was not a meter holiday. The meter was clearly marked in that case as well.

I said "ouch" and mailed in the fine. We had a great time in Santa Cruz that day and we purchased a scratch-proof skillet that we are still enjoying, one of our best purchases in years.

Of course some people have a different approach to life but I think getting over minor disappointments and moving on is better than letting old grudges fester.

Anonymous said...

"One could very easily quite honestly assume that since federal, state and local offices were closed that it would be an official holiday for parking meters."

I know, who can be bothered with actually reading something right ON the meter when we can just assume something instead. Let's all just assume things we want to, and when they don't match what's clearly stated, start complaining about how unfair this or that is.

Anonymous said...

I actually read the meter holiday thing more tongue in cheek. But Soccer Mom what is that about the Fair Political Practices Commission? Why do some always think there is a conspiracy? Come on this is a task force; it will not make decisions, its mission is to get to the facts whether the parking problem in WC is real or just perceived. The make up of the task force seems right 1/3 concerned citizens a couple of politicians some affected business representatives and some commission members.

But I assume that some of the anti WC forces already know that there is no real parking problem they call foul before the task force even has been formed. These are to most obstructionist people no vision just complaining ….. Please Soccer Mom, don’t feed them any more red meat with FPPC innuendo.

Anonymous said...

Hi Soccer Mom....whatever nerves you may strike, keep it up. This blog has opened up some great discussions.Years of reading the CCTimes has taught me to sift through the facts and inuendos. Some readers may feel threatened by the openness of this forum, but here we all have equal access.

Soccer Mom said...

Dear Anon July 13 2:51 p.m.,
It's reasonable to bring up FPPC regulations in any discussion about who will get appointed to a city board or commission. Those board members aren't elected and won't make a final decision on anything, but they'll make recommendations, and they have to abide by those fair practices rules, too.

Just as Anon July 12, 12:44 p.m. points out. I'm not seeing a conspiracy, just providing information.

By the way, Anon July 12, 12:44 p.m., thanks for sharing the information about the notice that went out to participants of the Walnut Creek Citizens Institute.

Finally, Anon July 13 12:58 p.m. Thanks for the note. I'm very happy to be providing this forum, and I'm really gratified by all the people who participate and by the very thoughtful comments from people who agree and disagree with each other and with me.

Anonymous said...

Parking in WC is why I never go to WC.

Anonymous said...

"Parking in WC is why I never go to WC."

You don't go to WC because there is parking there? That makes a lot of sense. Maybe you're not smart enough to be driving by yourself there.

Anonymous said...

8:30PM, such cruel sarcasm has no place in this blog.

Anonymous said...

July 15, 2009 11:40 AM

Hooray for you for speaking up! July 14, 2009 8:30 PM was way out of line with his/her remarks.

This blog is too good to be ruined by nasty slaps at other posters.

Don't discuss if you can't contribute something worth reading.

Anonymous said...

Parking in WC is why I never go to WC.

I agree. I've seen people nearly battle it out over a parking space. Bring it on Stoneridge!

Anonymous said...

"Don't discuss if you can't contribute something worth reading."

Well, then you shouldn't have posted that, right?

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