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City Council and

Parking Authority Report


City Council Meeting: March 8, 2011

Agenda Item: 8-C

To:               Mayor and City Council

                    Members of the Parking Authority

From:           Carol Swindell, Director of Finance

Subject:        Interim Downtown Parking Plan



Recommended Action

Staff recommends that the City Council:

1)    Authorize a price incentive of $68.75 per month to current downtown monthly parking pass holders to relocate to the Civic Center;

2)    Direct staff to develop a combined monthly parking pass and monthly Big Blue Bus (BBB) Pass; and

3)    Direct staff to proceed with actions necessary to facilitate the demolition of buildings located at 1338-42 and 1334-36 Fifth Streets after the expiration of existing leases.


Staff recommends that the City Council and Parking Authority:

1)    Authorize the City Manager and Executive Director to negotiate and execute a Fourth Amendment to Lease No. 1828 with Douglas Emmett 1998, LLC, that would enable the City to reimburse an amount not to exceed $20 per month for each space relinquished in Parking Structure 2, through January 1, 2026.


Executive Summary

Since early fall 2010, staff has been working with various stakeholders to develop an Interim Parking Plan (Plan) to meet parking demand during a period of increased construction activity in the downtown and Civic Center.  To date, staff has had meetings with Downtown Santa Monica, Inc. (formerly the Bayside District Corporation), Chamber of Commerce and downtown monthly parking pass holders. Additionally, the City and Downtown Santa Monica, Inc. have jointly retained the services of Kimley-Horn to review and provide input on the Plan.  Council has previously taken actions necessary to facilitate implementation of the portions of the Plan to operate additional parking locations and, on February 1, 2011, held a study session on the downtown and Civic Center projects and elements of the Interim Parking Plan (Plan). 


This report recommends that Council take necessary actions to further facilitate implementation of the Plan and also provides an update on the various other aspects of the Plan for which no additional Council action is currently necessary, including wayfinding and technology improvements, a proposed shuttle between the Civic Center and Downtown, downtown valet options, and further rate adjustments. The proposed incentives of a discounted parking rate and inclusion of a Big Blue Bus pass will encourage the voluntary relocation to the Civic Center and will result in an estimated annual loss of up to $82,500 in parking revenue for three years. Staff also recommends the authorization to reimburse Douglas Emmett up to $20 per month for each parking space relinquished from their long-term lease in Parking Structure 2. These actions, with the additional efforts summarized in the report, would facilitate the implementation of the Plan.



The future parking needs of Downtown Santa Monica have been frequently discussed since 2002.  On April 9, 2002, City Council conceptually approved the strategic plan recommended by the Downtown Parking Task Force to retrofit, rebuild, and add parking resources in the downtown area over a ten-year period.  On February 28, 2006, City Council approved the Downtown Parking Program and authorized staff to proceed with the next steps in implementing the program.  On May 9, 2006, Council certified the EIR for the Program.  On September 8, 2009, Council adopted the Walker Parking Study, which examined parking operations in downtown Santa Monica and identified opportunities to maximize the use of existing downtown parking resources, thus reducing the need to construct additional parking spaces.  On October 15, 2010, Council received an Information Item on interim parking alternatives during the potential construction of Parking Structures 3 and 6.  On February 1, 2011, Council reviewed the coordinated plan for the various proposed Downtown and Civic Center projects expected to be under construction between 2012 and 2016, including the current schedules, as illustrated below.



Since early fall 2010, staff has been developing an Interim Parking Plan to accommodate parking needs during the construction of the various downtown and Civic Center proposed projects.  The chart below demonstrate the minimum amount of available parking throughout downtown and the Civic Center utilizing usage data through January 2011 under two scenarios, 1) Parking Structure 6 under construction, resulting in a loss of 342 parking spaces; and 2) Parking Structures 3 & 6 under construction simultaneously, resulting in a loss of 681 parking spaces. This data suggest that given all downtown and Civic Center parking locations, capacity exist as demonstrated in the chart below.


Description: Civic Lot  Structure Pakring Analysis FINAL w5th and Library.jpg

The Plan that staff has developed to maximize use of available spaces throughout downtown and the Civic includes a series of incentives, technology and wayfinding to ensure maximum use of existing spaces during the construction period. Staff has also worked on other strategies that would only enhance available parking, such as renegotiating use of reserved spaces in Structures 2 and 4 and potential use of additional temporary parking locations.  


Parking Incentives

To prepare for the eighteen month to two year construction period for the rebuilding of Structure 6 and the related temporary loss of 339 spaces, staff proposes to relocate 400-500 downtown monthly parkers to the Civic Center in order to provide additional key, retail supporting, short-term spaces in the downtown core.  It is staff’s recommendation that Council approve incentives in order to improve the desirability of parking in the Civic Center and to encourage the voluntary relocation of monthly parkers.  Should the incentives not have the desired results, staff will recommend additional strategies or, if necessary, staff can reassign current monthly parkers to the Civic Center administratively. Specific recommended incentives include:

·       Reduce the rate for monthly parkers that relocate prior to December 31, 2011 to $68.75 per month.  This is an amount equal to two months free after one year when compared to the current rate of $82.50 per month in the Civic Center.  Staff proposes the rate be available to those who continuously purchase monthly parking for each month through December 2014.  Once a monthly parker does not renew their monthly pass, the rate would no longer be available to that individual.  Additionally, monthly parkers who are relocated after December 31, 2011 would be charged the full monthly rate of $82.50 with no price certainty during the three year period.

·       Direct staff to create a combined monthly parking pass and monthly Big Blue Bus (BBB) Pass for monthly parkers.  Staff is exploring methods to integrate the use of both passes on one card which would reduce opportunities for misuse and provide a convenient bus alternative to monthly pass holders.  Staff proposes that the bus pass be provided for no additional charge to monthly parking pass holders as a means to encourage the use of BBB.  This pass will also provide convenient options for travel between the Civic Center and the downtown, as BBB buses frequently travel down Fourth Street, and facilitate this alternative method of travel from the downtown to other locations serviced by BBB.  The goal of this proposal is to reduce traffic in the downtown, gain new ridership for and encourage the use of the BBB system. 

100 Wilshire Leased Parking Spaces

The City and Parking Authority lease 155 parking spaces in Parking Structure No. 2 to Douglas Emmett 1998, LLC, under a long-term lease originally authorized in 1968.  The parking spaces are located in a reserved area on the top level of the parking structure, which is utilized by tenants of 100 Wilshire Boulevard during the week.  However, the spaces go largely unused because for the last few years Douglas Emmett only issues permits for about one-third of the spaces.  The Walker Parking Study recommended that the City renegotiate the lease so that the estimated 80 to 100 unused parking spaces could be returned to the City’s parking supply.


Douglas Emmett 1998, LLC has agreed to removal of the reserved parking area and related signage in exchange for allowing payment to the City only for the spaces used each month and for payment of $20 per space per month to Douglas Emmett for each relinquished parking space.  Payment by the City would cease on January 1, 2026. 


In addition to increasing the supply of parking spaces available to the public, the modification to the lease is expected to generate additional revenue to the City, as use of the spaces for public parking generates considerably more revenue than what tenant pays for the spaces.   Making the spaces available for transient parking is expected to result in additional net parking revenue of approximately $180 per space per month or $170,000 per year.


Demolition of 1338-42 Fifth Street and 1334-36 Fifth Street and ICE

The City has recently acquired property on Fourth and Fifth Streets in support of the City’s Downtown Parking Program.  One of the buildings on the property, located at 1324 Fifth Street (the former Interim Public Library), has been demolished.   The other properties on Fifth Street are improved with buildings that are leased to tenants whose leases expire December 31, 2012.  The building located at 1338-42 Fifth Street is leased to Carlson Appliance and the building located at 1334-36 Fifth Street is leased to Angelo’s Pawn Shop and Ezai Flowers.   Demolition of these buildings, in tandem with the other City holdings on Fifth Street, would provide the City a site of 67,500 sq. ft. which could be used for interim surface parking while the Parking Structure 6 and 3 redevelopment projects are underway.  Staff recommends that the Council authorize staff to notify the tenants that the City will not extend the leases after December 31, 2012.  With Council direction, staff will immediately begin the planning and permitting process so that the buildings can be demolished and interim parking created starting in January 2013. 


In addition, staff will continue to work with Downtown Santa Monica, Inc. regarding the future of ICE at the Fifth and Arizona location and possible accommodations or alternatives to facilitate parking needs and preserve this annual winter tradition.


Updates on Additional Interim Parking Plan Initiatives

Temporary Parking

On November 9, 2010, Council approved an amendment with Central Parking System to operate temporary parking locations throughout downtown Santa Monica.  To date, staff has executed the option to operate the lot at Fifth and Arizona beginning in March 2011.  Staff plans to operate the lot with both self-park and valet-assist operations depending on demand to maximize the facility.  Staff is also exploring operating a full valet service on the lot.  Additionally, staff continues to monitor the construction schedules for the projects at the 400 Colorado (future Expo rail terminus) and North Civic Center parking lot (future Palisades Garden Walk) sites and will operate parking in these lots when possible. Usage of 400 Colorado is dependent on when the Exposition Light Rail Authority requires use of the property. Continued use of the North Civic Center Lot is dependent on decisions related to storage of dirt generated from the Village project for future use in the park construction and the use of the site for construction staging for the Village project.  Additionally, staff will maximize and promote the use of the Main Library parking structure during this time period as a location with an average of 200-300 available parking spaces.




Rate Adjustments

Staff and Bayside will be working with Kimley-Horn to review the current parking rates, the Walker Study rate recommendations, and usage patterns to ascertain whether additional rate adjustments are recommended at this time. Staff will also regularly review parking usage during the implementation of the plan to determine if or when rates may need to be adjusted.  


New Technologies

On November 9, 2010, Council approved the purchase of additional pay-on-foot machines necessary to automate downtown Structures 1-6.  These machines have been ordered and are expected to be installed in early spring 2011.  Additionally, staff has implemented a new parking website that consolidates parking information in one location at, including new user-friendly Google-based real time parking maps.  Staff is also exploring various potential smart phone applications.


Wayfinding Improvements

Current data shows that the system of structures is not used consistently; some structures are near capacity, while other structures have vacancies.  Improving information which notifies parkers of available spaces before they reach the downtown core will greatly increase the efficiency of the system.  The City currently has Metro grant funding for a project that will display real time parking and roadway information on dynamic messaging signs for motorists traveling to Santa Monica beach parking lots adjacent to the Pier, on Barnard Way and Palisades Beach Road.  Signs placed near off-ramps from the Santa Monica Freeway will also display changeable messages, including parking information for garages in the Downtown area.  All signs will display clear and concise parking information at the entrance to each parking lot and at key gateways to the City.  When central parking lots fill up, the signs will help to distribute traffic, increase the efficiency of existing parking resources, and reduce traffic congestion.  Staff is currently working with a consultant on the design and placement of the signs and, once designed, an installation schedule will be developed.


The City has received an additional Metro grant for the design and implementation of a multi-modal traveler information system, which will consist of both static and dynamic wayfinding signs and online/mobile tools to direct motorists to available parking.  This grant will be funded in FY2012-13.  Staff is also requesting funding for additional signs as part of the fiscal year 2010/11 Capital Improvement Project Budget which will be considered within the context of the General Fund’s overall priorities.



This summer, the routes of Big Blue Bus Lines 4 & 9 which operate in both directions on 4th Street in Downtown will be slightly modified to pick up and drop off passengers immediately adjacent to the two pedestrian entrances of the Civic Center Parking Structure, providing an additional connection for monthly parkers seven days per week.


Several months prior to the closure of Parking Structure 6, Big Blue Bus will implement a shuttle between downtown and the Civic Center to encourage more drivers to shift to this parking.  In addition to the proposed joint parking and bus pass, members of the public will also be able to ride the shuttle by paying the appropriate Big Blue Bus fare.  The route will start at the parking elevator entrance on Civic Center Drive, turn right on Avenida Mazatlan, left on Olympic Drive, right on Main Street, left on Colorado Avenue, right on 2nd Street, right on Santa Monica Boulevard, right on 4th Street and right on Civic Center Drive returning to the Civic Center parking facilities.  Shuttle passengers would have the option of boarding or alighting at any existing Big Blue Bus stops along the way.  Frequency would be every 10-12 minutes during weekday commuting periods when monthly parkers typically arrive and depart, with schedule adjustments to be made as necessary to meet travel demand. 


The annual operating cost of the Civic Center Parking Structure shuttle would be approximately $200,000.  Depending on demand, the shuttle could also operate on weekends for an additional cost.  Staff is currently working towards identifying funding options for the shuttle. 



The City is currently exploring several options to provide valet service within the downtown utilizing the City-owned property at 5th and Arizona including valet-assist, valet with one stand on 4th Street or as a car storage location for a centralized valet system.  Over the next several months, staff plans to operate different valet systems and a self-parking option within the lot to ascertain the best operational method from both a staff and public perspective. Valet operations are authorized by the current contract with Central Parking Systems, so no further Council action is needed. Additionally, staff will continue to offer the ability for merchants to purchase validations to provide discounted parking to customers. 


Parking Meter Pilot program

The Walker Parking Study identified that to best manage parking in the downtown, the City should maximize the efficient use of parking meter spaces. In order to facilitate this,    staff will be implementing a parking meter pilot project this month to determine which multi-function meters best meet the needs of the City and provide the best customer experience.  All the meters in the pilot project will accept credit cards and be linked to a central computer program that allows for more efficient meter management, including alerts of malfunctions. Two companies responded to the request to demonstrate single-head meters and are part of the first demonstration project.  The project locations are:

·       Main Street Santa Monica, between Pico Blvd, and Colorado Ave.

·       Second Street, between Wilshire Blvd., and Broadway

·       Fifth Street, between Wilshire Blvd., and Broadway

·       Ocean Ave. between Wilshire Blvd., and Colorado Ave.


The City is also exploring demonstrating multi-space meters in additional locations. The pilot will last approximately three months. Staff is also requesting funding to purchase new parking meters as part of the fiscal year 2010/11 Capital Improvement Project Budget which will be considered within the context of the General Fund’s overall priorities. If the capital funds are approved as part of the budget process, staff will bring to Council proposed changes to parking meter rates consistent with the Walker Parking Study recommendations which would increase revenue to offset the purchase of the new meters and provide additional General Fund revenues that could be used to further initiatives outlined in this report.


Bike Transit Center

This fall the City will be opening a Bike Transit Center at Santa Monica Place Parking Structures 7 & 8, providing another option for visitors to the downtown. The Bike Transit Center will support the efforts of employers, Downtown Santa Monica, Inc., and the Convention and Visitors Bureau to encourage employees, residents, and visitors to choose green transportation.  The Center will include two access-controlled areas with space to securely park over 250 bikes and changing facilities for commuters.  The Center will provide bike-related services such as retail, bike repair, bike rental, attended bike parking, tours, and public information on walking, transit, biking, and related “green” events and services.


Next Steps

Staff with Kimley-Horn and Downtown Santa Monica, Inc. will monitor the success of the Plan and will adjust as needed.  Staff will also present monthly updates to Downtwon Santa Monica, Inc. that will be available to the general public and Council via the City’s website.


Financial Impacts & Budget Actions

If the maximum target of 500 monthly pass holders took advantage of the price incentive, parking revenue would decrease by $82,500 per year.  


The Fourth Modification to the lease with Douglas Emmett for Parking Structure No. 2 will result in a net increase in revenue to the City of approximately $170,000 annually. This is based on the assumption that the City will use the relinquished spaces for daily parkers who generate $180 per space per month, net of the $20 payment to Douglas Emmett, and that Douglas Emmett will only be purchasing permits for 75 spaces, rather than 155 spaces.

Funding for other items updated in this report is in existing authorized budgets or will be presented to Council as part of future fiscal year budgets, such as the shuttle program with an estimated annual cost of $200,000. 


Prepared by:  Donald Patterson, Business & Revenue Operations Manager




Forwarded to Council:






Carol Swindell

Director of Finance


Rod Gould

City Manager