City officials study parking changes

CITY HALL — New signs highlighting parking garages downtown and a more comprehensive approach to the city’s most congested neighborhoods are in the works, city officials said this week.

In an update to the Transportation and Parking Commission on Monday, city planners said several studies already underway would likely bear several recommendations for changes.

“At this point, we’ve collected a lot of data,” said Michael Nilsson, the city mobility planner who has overseen the studies.

The City Council in 2007 approved a major overhaul of public parking downtown, which included the installation of the electronic multi-space meters and new time limits on Brand Boulevard.

In conjunction with the new downtown parking program, the City Council last year approved a $170,000-contract with Pasadena-based Hunt Design to develop streamlined parking and wayfinding signs for the area.

The sign program is intended to make it easier for motorists to find various public parking options, including public parking lots and garages, said Alan Loomis, the city’s principal urban planner.

“One of the things we’ve heard quite a bit about from merchants and from the council is people don’t realize that those are public structures and they are public lots,” he said.

An initial study by Hunt showed the current signs are confusing and even misleading.

Hunt Design officials will begin working on sign design proposals with North Star Destination Strategies, which was tapped to create a citywide marketing plan.

City planners are also working with Nelson/Nygaard Consultant Associates to study parking issues in the South Brand Boulevard area after the Transportation and Parking Commission was forced to mediate a parking war between Pacific BMW employees and nearby residents.

“I think that sort of illustrated that the current process of doing one street at a time doesn’t work in the South Brand area and a more comprehensive approach is needed,” Loomis said.

The city’s current preferential parking process allows for streets to apply for permit parking by gathering enough signatures

Nilsson said city planners and private consultants have documented the available parking in the area and are surveying businesses and employees in the area for possible changes.

In recent months, commissioners have pushed for a more comprehensive approach to the increasing tensions between multi-family building residents and businesses caused by a lack of available street parking.

At a meeting in December, Traffic and Safety Administrator Jano Baghdanian said the recommendations could have “major policy implications on every neighborhood in the city, on the businesses, and the chamber of commerce members.”

FOR THE RECORD: This corrects an earlier version that incorrectly attributed the last quote to commissioner Bill Weisman.

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