Nevada City set to look at parking meter rate solutions | TheUnion.com

Nevada City set to look at parking meter rate solutions

Members of the Nevada City community step up to the microphone to express their opinions on a proposed parking meter increase at a city council meeting in July. A parking committee meeting is scheduled for Wednesday.
Elias Funez/efunez@theunion.com

The parking committee

The committee, cosponsored by Nevada City and the Chamber of Commerce, includes two staff members — City Manager Catrina Olson and Public Works Superintendent Bubba Highsmith — and council members Valerie Moberg and Duane Strawser. It also includes chamber Executive Director Cathy Whittlesey, Planning Commissioner Peter Van Zant, residents Thomas Nigh and Paul Matson, and merchants Pat Dyer of Utopian Stone, Kim Coughlan of Novak’s and Ken Paige of Friar Tucks.

Residents and business owners have made it clear they are unhappy with a proposed parking meter rate change that, if enacted, would increase the cost of parking in much of Nevada City’s downtown from 25 cents an hour to $1.

But where Nevada City goes from here is far less certain.

At a contentious City Council meeting on July 24, the council voted to suspend the increase and instead appoint a parking committee to study the issue and make some alternate suggestions. The committee will have its first meeting at 4 p.m. Wednesday at City Hall, 317 W. Broad St.

Council member Duane Strawser, who’s on the parking committee, said the meeting is open to the public.

The committee hopes to bring at least an initial recommendation for meter rates to the council at its Sept. 25 meeting. More long-term solutions will likely be discussed at future meetings, said Cathy Whittlesey, executive director of the Nevada City Chamber of Commerce and a parking committee member.

The Chamber of Commerce has been sending surveys to business owners, asking about parking needs and concerns, as well as possible solutions. According to Whittlesey, anyone who needs a survey can call the chamber office at 530-265-2692 or come by the office at 132 Main St. to pick one up.

Chamber meeting

The chamber hosted a Thursday meeting intended to generate positive solutions to submit to the parking committee next week.

Pat Dyer, of Utopian Stone and a member of the parking committee, said many of those opposed to the increase felt “blind-sided” by the council’s decision, even though, he acknowledged, they “did it by the book.”

“We were guilty of not taking enough notice,” Dyer said. “But they were guilty of saying, no one is here (at the council meeting), let’s do what we want.”

Dyer proposed several options for consideration: Take out the meters completely, or raise the rate on the existing meters to 50 cents an hour and don’t install any new meters. He added that an “extended” committee should be created to look at long-term solutions.

Several business owners in attendance cited the need for employee parking lots, possibly with free or reduced rates. Simply removing all meters could cause problems with residents and employees taking up parking spaces all day, noted Celine Negrete.

Kim Crevoiserat, the general manager of Nevada City Winery, pointed out their private parking lot off Spring Street is frequently used by locals — and added the parcel actually has an undeveloped portion along Deer Creek that potentially could be cleared and used by the city.

“Parking for local employees is the direction we need to head,” she said.

“We need to provide workable parking for everybody,” Dyer said, who floated some “out of the box” ideas that included “donation” meters that took tips rather than a set amount.

“It would be something out of left field,” he said. “It would be amazing publicity, if nothing else.”

To contact Staff Writer Liz Kellar, email lizk@theunion.com or call 530-477-4236.


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