Benefit Districts

Parking Benefit Districts

Free curb parking is so ubiquitous in Sonoma County that it would be futile to suggest charging for it everywhere. But there are a few places where charging would make a lot of sense. They are easy to recognize: the locations where people are frustrated by a lack of curb parking for quick errands, or too few parking spaces on their neighborhood streets.

Even where curb parking is hard to find, few residents or merchants would ask for parking to be metered. Instead, they typically promote additional off-street parking. Yet when this is provided, at great cost, the problem is seldom solved, because people are really looking for curb parking, and don’t consider off-street parking a satisfactory substitute.

Residents and business owners resist curb metering because it is seen as an additional tax on themselves or their customers or guests. But what if were also a source of income?

Pasadena parking meter

That’s what curb metering became in Pasadena’s Old Town. Parking meters were installed in Old Pasadena to provide an effective tool to encourage drivers to keep parking as short as possible. This allows other drivers to use these convenient, short-term parking spaces close to retail shops, restaurants and other businesses.

Revenue collected from the parking meters is used to maintain the streets, sidewalks and alleys in Old Pasadena.

These “Parking Benefit Districts” could be established anywhere there is a “parking problem”, not just in Pasadena, and not just in commercial areas. People in downtown neighborhoods impacted by spillover commercial parking might be inclined toward generosity if they knew the revenues collected could be used for neighborhood improvements. They could even exempt their own cars if they wanted.

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