Nevada City parking meter committee to recommend 50 cents an hour |

Nevada City parking meter committee to recommend 50 cents an hour

Nevada City’s parking committee has agreed to take the brakes off a proposed meter increase that stalled out after community push back.

Residents and business owners had made it clear they were unhappy with the rate change approved in June that would have increased the cost of parking in much of Nevada City’s downtown from 25 cents an hour to $1. At a City Council meeting on July 24 packed with opponents of the hike, the council tabled the increase and appointed the parking committee to study the issue and make some alternate suggestions.

The increase was intended to free parking and generate more than $550,000 a year, part of which would be earmarked for fire mitigation programs such as a siren alert system and vegetation clearing.

At the inaugural meeting Wednesday, parking committee members agreed a short-term solution needed to be hashed out quickly, with longer-term, more sustainable proposals to be hammered out in future meetings.

Utopian Stone owner Pat Dyer argued Nevada City could explore many funding options other than increasing parking meter rates.

“There are so many innovative ways to deal with parking these days,” he said. “Using the antiquated solution of raising parking fees seems like putting blinders on.”

Dyer pushed to continue the moratorium and for a staff report on the city’s history of parking funds, adding, “Don’t do anything else until we study this.”

Push back

Others disagreed, saying an additional 25 cents an hour seemed workable.

“Twenty-five cents an hour is laughable — it seems like 50 cents is a no-brainer,” said Thomas Nigh.

“We are well under our competition, we are a bargain,” said Peter Van Zant, a planning commissioner.

Van Zant noted a portion of the funds were to be set aside for fire mitigation, but questioned what that money would be used for.

According to City Manager Catrina Olson, the priority would be vegetation mitigation on city properties, as well as a potential fire siren.

Olson and Public Works Superintendent Bubba Highsmith estimated raising all existing city parking meters to 50 cents an hour could bring in an estimated additional $105,000 a year. A solar pay station would be installed in the Commercial Street parking lot that would accept change or credit cards.

The recommendation will likely be placed on the agenda of Wednesday’s City Council meeting, Olson said.

As part of the long-term agenda, Olson said, city staff should look at meter locations and improving the technology.

Olson noted one of the reasons the parking meter rate was raised so precipitously was that it had not increased in 10 years, and suggested future rate adjustments be phased in more slowly.

Paul Matson advocated studying the possible extension and expansion of Measure S, a half-cent sales tax increase approved in 2006 that was dedicated to the re-paving and upkeep of city streets.

Measure S expires in 2022.

A quantifiable result and restrictions on spending would be key, committee members said, agreeing a tax increase could be a viable alternative to future parking meter rate increases.

To contact Staff Writer Liz Kellar, email or call 530-477-4236.

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