Staunton Downtown Parking Changes To Be Determined

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City of Staunton Press Release:

City staff presented the final parking study completed by walker consultants to city council last Thursday and shared initial thoughts on the consultant’s recommendations.

The final report included numerous proposals to enhance Staunton’s downtown parking operations, including changes to parking and funding strategies and parking equipment.

During city council’s Dec. 14 meeting, staff conveyed that the City would ultimately need to make decisions about downtown parking that work well for the Staunton community. Staff will be examining the final report more closely and come back to city council in a few months with a full evaluation of the study and further recommendations.

In the meanwhile, City staff provided the following feedback and interim steps:

  • Staff recommended that the installation of additional parking meters and pay-on-foot options, suggested by the consultant, not be pursued.
  • Staff will explore ways to improve the enforcement of current parking restrictions in the downtown area, to achieve better compliance with time limitations and increase turnover.
  • While modernized parking equipment is necessary at the City’s off-street parking facilities, staff will not pursue equipment upgrades for those facilities until repairs to the Johnson Street parking garage have been completed in 2018.
  • Staff will spend time over the next few months examining other municipal parking models like Harrisonburg’s—which utilizes time-restricted, complimentary parking—to see if such a system might work in Staunton. 

City leaders said two of the most important takeaways from the parking study process were the confirmation that the City has an adequate supply of parking spaces to service the downtown area and the awareness that, even if the City provides fee-free parking, it is never truly without cost.

“The elimination of parking fees altogether is an attractive option, and we have been contemplating a move in that direction since the summer of 2016,” said City Manager Steve Owen. “That very idea was the impetus for the parking study. However, before we further considered a complete elimination of parking fees, we thought it would be wise to commission a study by parking experts to help us understand the consequences of such a decision.”

“Currently, thousands of tourists, businesses and residents who use the City’s parking facilities are contributing to the City’s parking fund, supporting the cost of parking equipment, administrative costs and the upkeep of those facilities. Should downtown parking become fee-free, the entire cost burden would shift to all City taxpayers, including those who do not use downtown parking facilities.”

The City spent more than $664,000 on parking during the 2017 fiscal year. Because the parking fund isn’t self-sustaining, the City subsidized the cost of parking operations by pulling $119,000 from the general fund—funded by all City taxpayers—to cover expenses.

Owen said he anticipates staff will be ready to share more information about next steps for downtown parking by the spring.

“We’ll take time to consider public input, assess the potential impact of implementing the recommendations in the study and then come back to city council and the public with parking solutions that we believe will work for Staunton citizens, businesses and our many visitors,” he said.