Sunday, February 26, 2012

Parking costs increase in Downtown Pomona

On Monday the Pomona City Council will be considering charging for nighttime parking in Downtown Pomona, and for expanding the hours and increasing the prices of parking in the downtown. Currently parking is charged during business hours weekdays only - the new fee structure would increase the rate from $2 to $3, while creating free parking for three hours between 7 am and 7 pm, seven days a week.

After 7 pm, most lots downtown will now charge a flat $1 rate. Although city staff did not do a comprehensive parking study, most cities in the Inland Empire do not charge for parking in their traditional downtowns in the evening hours. Even downtown Riverside, arguably one of the more vibrant downtowns in the Inland Empire, has free parking at parking structures on weekends and evenings. The comparison is being made to Pasadena, but Pomona is not Pasadena, and Pasadena is the only city in the San Gabriel Valley that imposes night and weekend parking fees for visitors to their traditional downtown.

While Pomona draws a lot of people during the evening to the Fox Theater, Glass House, and clubs on Thomas, as well as people from throughout the region on Art Walk nights, the level of activity in Downtown Pomona is nowhere near cities such as Pasadena, Santa Ana, or Los Angeles which charge for parking seven days a week and on nights in their downtowns. Places like Monrovia, Riverside, San Bernardino, Claremont, and Redlands which have evening attractions do not charge for parking.

The funding is supposed to be going for a parking structure, however until serious infill begins the need for the structure is minimal. Western University has already accommodated much of its parking needs through construction of the parking structure on Towne Avenue. In addition, there are opportunities to build a parking structure using Proposition A Local Return transit dollars, which would serve Metrolink parking needs during the day and commercial needs at night.

After the parking fee is imposed there will still be a handful of lots downtown that will not charge for parking, as well as parking spaces on the street (unless parking meters are planned to be placed there as well) and all private property lots (subject to enforcement by the private property owner). I've taken the staff report and highlighted in green the lots that will remain free. The average visitor, however, is not likely to find these lots. There will also be spillover parking impacts to Mission Promenade and residential neighborhoods surrounding the downtown. Especially in this economy we need to encourage as much visitation as possible, while managing the legitimate traffic concerns during concert nights. One dollar will not necessary break the bank of someone spending over $100 per car on drinks and a show, but it could discourage casual visitors from coming back.

The City Council will be hearing this public hearing item Monday evening. The meeting begins some time after 7 p.m. If approved nighttime parking charges could begin as soon as April 1.


Anonymous said...

This is an ill-conceived plan that will certainly discourage visitors. Downtown Pomona is light-years away from being Pasadena or even Riverside. They will kill business in the area.

John Clifford said...

I don't know if this is the same Anonymous who has been making other comments here, but this is a plan to raise revenues for parking by charging a "user fee" NOT a tax increase. Something you should be for.

Or do you support the option to have a downtown where parking is free but you can't find anywhere to park? We need to control the parking downtown and finding a funding mechanism to do so seems to be on the right track. I've been downtown on nights where there is a concert at the Glass House, one at the Fox, the Sky Fox, Carnival, etc. where doing brisk business, and I couldn't find a space to go to dba256. THAT is already hurting business. I doubt that a $1 parking fee will keep any of those folks away and will allow us to build parking for the future.

As for the daytime rate increase, we already charge to park in the daytime so this is just a small increase which shouldn't have much of an impact on business.

Anonymous said...

As it stands, downtown Pomona has competition from places like downtown Claremont (where they have a great parking structure and it is free). A lack of parking will certainly detract visitors, but so will charging for parking in a region where people are accustomed to free parking (Pomona is not Santa Monica, Pasadena, or Beverly Hills). Several alternatives are noted in the posting for expanding parking structures, but there is no mention that the proposed parking fees will go towards building such structures (and I don't trust the bureaucrats in Pomona to do the right thing). The Fox Theater has been great for downtown Pomona, but the times where parking is in short supply are rare; just park a little further and walk.

And, no, this is not the same anonymous - I rarely visit or post on this blog.

calwatch said...

Sure but what about the majority of nights where there isn't anything going on? Now you are just going to have a lot of empty parking lots and frustrated people walking for a few blocks to avoid paying for parking. Plus the enforcement on non-concert days is likely to be more costly than the fees collected. I'm not convinced this is a good idea, and would prefer the VPD implement market rate parking on the nights that do need it and let the lots stay free the rest of the time.

Skrip said...

I like what Calwatch says... although probably not feasible.

It is only certain nights that it gets really out of control, especially on ArtWalk Saturdays. Doesn't make sense during the week when it is all dead. I know $1 is just $1, but the inconvenience of missing that and getting a ticket is not worth it for many. Again, NOT YET TIME is what I say.

I don't trust Pomona city reps with this money... if it was strictly to go for building a new parking structure like the one in Claremont then perhaps. And I mean one that benefits the businesses on the west side of Garey Ave too, not just Western University who always seems to benefit in these situations.

If the City truly needs money, guess what, try CODE ENFORCEMENT CITYWIDE. So many converted garages, illegal construction, etc. There's some money there.

Stupid move Pomona... at least prematurely. I must say I've already been in downtown Claremont several times this year on weekend nights... which is rare. But the awesomeness of just parking so easily and walking so closely without worry is great. The only thing Claremont doesn't have is that awesome vibe and love of downtown Pomona, and I'm afraid it's going to disappear.

We'll see how this goes... I know the Clubs on the Fox side won't have any issue.

Hopefully this somehow all works out.

meg said...

Yeah, I'm with Calwatch on this one. We've known for ages that there are certain nights one can't get parking, and the rest of the time, it's easy-peasy. I'm not even convinced that a $1 fee is going to change anything on the busy nights; it's just going to keep folks away on the quiet nights.

Even Pasadena has free parking in the structure between Raymond and Fair Oaks. AND the meters die at 8pm.

Sorry, JC -- I think this is a terrible idea and will have a negative impact on downtown.

John Clifford said...

There is an informational meeting at the downtown center on March 15 at 6:00 pm. More info at

Andy said...

Retarded. Another reason to turn away the already struggling downtown. I'm curious what revenue figures they will be presented. Oh wait.. no study was done. Don't be expected any analysis to justify the change.

If the goal is to free up parking when concerts are in session, what they need to do is to impose a time limit on free parking at night to make sure there is a constant rotation of open spaces. No one is gonna pay for parking in Downtown pomona. Downtown Pomona is no attraction as Pasadena is.

John Clifford said...

The DPOA has a page with the information on the new parking meters going in downtown and the new parking rates. You can see it here.

The free parking is going from 2 hours to 3 hours in most lots and the fee is going from $2 all day to $3 all day. Nighttime parking will be $1.

So the visitor during the day will have 3 free hours of parking and the nighttime visitor will cost a buck. Still seems reasonable.