City Council Meeting: May 9, 2006 (Continued from February 28, 2006)

Agenda Item: 8-A  


To:                   Mayor and City Council 

From:              Andy Agle, Interim Director, Planning and Community Development

Subject:          Approval of Downtown Parking Program and Related California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) Findings


Recommended Action

It is recommended that the City Council take the following actions regarding the Downtown Parking Program:

·         Approve the Program

·      Adopt the resolution making the necessary CEQA findings and adoption of a Statement of Overriding Considerations and Mitigation Monitoring and Reporting Program  

·      Authorize staff to proceed with implementation

Executive Summary

The Downtown Parking Program, a ten-year phased strategic plan to seismically retrofit, rebuild and add parking resources, was developed by the Downtown Parking Task Force and conceptually approved by Council, with direction to staff to prepare a programmatic EIR.  The Final Program EIR was prepared and has been certified by Council.  Council action is now required to adopt the Program and the related CEQA actions.


Previous Council Actions

City Council certified the Program EIR at its February 28, 2006 meeting.  However, City Council continued the actions related to adoption of the Program.  At that meeting there was a discussion about whether one of the EIR alternatives with less parking should be adopted, with the concern expressed that a total of 1,712 new spaces in the Downtown may be too many, given that the development rate in Downtown may occur at a slower pace in the future.



Detailed information about this project is provided in the February 28, 2006 staff report (Attachment A). The program includes three components:

·        Seismic retrofit of two nine-story parking structures (Numbers 2 and 4);

·        Tearing down and rebuilding three five-story parking structures (Numbers 1, 3 and 6), with up to 712 additional spaces; and

·        Adding up to two new parking structures, containing a maximum of 1,000 additional spaces, in the area generally bounded between 4th Court, Wilshire Boulevard, 6th Court and Colorado Avenue. 


As discussed in the report, the program was developed as a phased approach over a ten year time frame, with a goal of maintaining the current ratio of 2.1 spaces per 1,000 square feet of Downtown development.  The plan includes not only a strategy to build for the parking demand that is expected, but also a mechanism to allow the program to be adjusted if future conditions change.  The key element is a biennial review of progress and parking occupancies.  This will allow the City to monitor conditions and make adjustments, either to the parking development program, to parking fees, or to other programs that affect people’s decisions how and when to come downtown.


Another key factor for consideration is that a number of discretionary actions are required by Council prior to each phase of implementation. Each project and related actions will be brought to Council for review and approval.  Approving the full program will only ensure maximum flexibility.



CEQA requires that the EIR analyze project alternatives.   Both alternatives 3A and 3B in the EIR were developed as “reduced intensity” alternatives to frame the analysis and explore the difference in impacts.  Alternative 3A provides for up to 1,000 new spaces in two structures outside the core and limits improvements in the core area to seismic retrofit, only.  Alternative 3B provides for up to 712 additional spaces in the core area, only, by tearing down and rebuilding the three five-story structures (1, 3 and 6).  Alternative 3B does not include any new structures outside the core.  Each produces about the same impacts, which are less than the proposed program impacts. 


If Council wishes to adopt a reduced intensity program, staff recommends that Council adopt the Program without the second 500-space peripheral structure, so that a more balanced Program is adopted.   If the Program without the second peripheral structure is adopted, all three of the older structures would be torn down and rebuilt, as recommended by the Task Force, and one structure of up to 500 spaces could be built in the peripheral area, for a total reduced Program of 1,212 spaces.   


While Alternatives 3A and 3B reduce the Program impacts, this reduction is commensurate with a reduction in the achievement of the Program objectives. Alternative 3A would not upgrade the existing aging structures and would not activate frontages on 2nd and 4th Streets with ground floor retail.  Alternative 3B would not expand the Downtown walking district and would not provide replacement parking flexibility during construction.  For both alternatives, parking objectives would be fulfilled for the shorter-range future, but the ability to meet on-going parking needs would be constrained.


Adoption of the Program without the second peripheral structure would still achieve the objectives outlined by the Task Force, which emphasize the importance of phasing to maintain the inventory during construction, expanding the walking district and activating street-frontage.  However, this alternative would fall short of needs if the rate of development occurs at an equivalent or higher rate than that of the past ten years.


Environmental Analysis

In order to approve the project, the City Council must adopt a Statement of Overriding Consideration, which includes a Mitigation Monitoring and Reporting Program (Attachment B).  The full discussion for the Program was previously provided.  If Council wishes to adopt an alternative Program, an alternate Statement will need to be adopted because there are still significant impacts that cannot be mitigated.


Budget/Financial Impact

Adoption of the Downtown Parking Program EIR will have no direct impact on the budget.  Each proposed Program implementation step will be reviewed by Council prior to action and will include an assessment of budget and financial impacts.



Prepared by:

Ellen Gelbard, Deputy Director, Planning and Community Development




Forwarded to Council:







Andy Agle

Interim Director, Planning and Community Development


P. Lamont Ewell

City Manager






A - February 28, 2006 Staff Report (see electronic link above)

B - Resolution Adopting a Statement of Overriding Considerations and Mitigation Monitoring and Reporting Program












Attachment A



The February 28, 2006 staff report is available electronically through a hyperlink (click on highlighted “February 28, 2006” in staff report.)  A hard copy is available for review at the City Clerk’s Office and the City libraries.















Attachment B