Where do you park?
In November 2003, Omni-Means LTD., an engineering firm out of Roseville, released a study on the need and feasibility of expanding parking in the downtown. Here’s what it found:
The 4,094 parking spaces in the downtown area—enclosed by First Street south to Ninth and Normal east to Orient—are made up of 1,536 on-street parking spots, 687 off-street public surface and structure parking spaces and 1,871 off-street private parking stalls.
On-street space peak occupancy varies between 56 percent on Saturdays and 61 percent on Fridays and does not fluctuate significantly from day to day. Off-street peak parking varies between 45 percent on Saturdays from 11 a.m. to noon and 90 percent on Wednesdays from noon to 1 p.m. The difference between Saturdays and weekdays, the report concludes, is most likely due to downtown employees and Chico State University students parking there on weekdays.
The report also includes the results of a downtown user survey related to parking issues. Forty-six respondents were asked six questions. Results show a majority of those driving downtown park within a five-minute or less walk from their destinations, which means within two blocks.
Not surprisingly, a majority was there to shop; work was the second-most common purpose for parking downtown.
A majority of users said they visit three places or fewer after they park, and nearly 85 percent said they park only once while visiting the downtown.
Asked to rate the convenience of parking on a scale of 1 to 10, nearly three-quarters said convenience was between fair (5) and excellent (10).
“Although the majority of downtown users do not perceive a parking problem,” the study reports, “the results of the data collection analysis does indicate certain areas with high occupancies and potential areas with parking shortages.”
The study’s recommendation for short-term parking relief is the construction of a three-level, 618-stall parking structure at Municipal Parking Lot 1.
For longer term, it recommends increasing meter fees to 50 cents an hour with the option of raising them in the future in 10- to 15-cent increments, enforcing meters until 11 p.m. Monday through Saturday and from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sundays