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Santa Monica Raises Parking Rates  
By Jason Islas
Staff Writer

July 13, 2012 -- In an attempt to address Santa Monica’s parking crunch and increase revenues, the City Council voted Tuesday to raise parking rates throughout the City, bringing in an estimated $3.5 million revenue annually starting October 1.

The cost of parking at meters will go up from $0.75 to $1 an hour throughout the City, with Downtown seeing the largest increase -- from $1 to $2 an hour.

Approved unanimously, the new ordinance will also reduce the free parking period in Downtown parking structures to 90 minutes, and increase the hourly rate to $3, while making it cheaper to park at the Civic Center and Main Library parking lots.

In addition, parking at the Civic Center will drop by more than half, from $1.50 every 20 minutes to $1 an hour, with the first hour and a half free. The ordinance also would reduce the daily maximum from $9 to $5.

“This is probably the biggest rethinking of parking policy we’ve done in a long time,” said Council member Kevin McKeown.

Council member Terry O’Day said that he was glad to see the City “moving towards more active management of parking as an asset.”

That asset is increasingly scarce as Downtown grows, according to staff.

“The first two or three floors are always full (in the public parking structures)… because the employees of the businesses on the Promenade were in them,” said Council member Bobby Shriver. “We have to solve the employee problem.”

The new parking rates are designed to encourage employees to park at satellite lots, staff said. The ordinance reduces the daily maximum prices for both the Main Library and Civic Center parking lots to $5, where staff says there are a total of 1,600 parking spaces.

For $160 a month, a motorist could park in any of the Downtown structures, the Civic Center parking lot, the Civic Center parking structure and the Main Library. For $120, a motorist could park at any of those structures Monday through Friday, from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m.

A cheaper pass -- $75 a month -- is available for those who only want to park in those places during the weekend or during weeknights.

But only $65 a month will get motorists a monthly pass to park at the Civic Center parking lot any time of day.

The council also addressed parking in the Main Street district.

Shriver pointed out that employees on Main Street also are taking up spaces parking spaces, only in their case, they park on residential streets.

In response, Council member Bob Holbrook suggested that the City ought to offer discounted beach parking lot permits for employees on Main Street, letting them park there for $20 a month instead of $27.

McKeown opposed the amendment, although it still passed, arguing that “over subsidizing” parking would be “contrary to our vehicle reduction policies”.

“The objective (of the discount) is to get them out of the neighborhoods and into the beach lot, however that needs to be done,” Shriver retorted, pointing out that employees are already driving to work.

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