Before Napa visitors see new parking lots or garages – or the return of meters – the city plans to study the demand for vehicle space today, and where it may go.
Napa’s recently hired parking programs director, Tony Valadez, will oversee an analysis of parking demand in the central business district, where a growing hospitality industry has caused leaders to plan for increasing congestion in years to come. A report on downtown parking is expected to go before the City Council before the end of 2018.
In the meantime, the city will hold off on any major changes – whether to parking facilities or rules – until the study is complete. “We’re still in the fact-finding stage,” Valadez said last week. “We can go either way, but there’s no decision we will make until we have an analysis ready to go.”
“We’re trying to learn what inventory we have, the demand, the growth and need for parking, where the demand is, creating heat maps to show where the need is, the number of citations processed,” said Valadez, a former logistics and parking manager for Anaheim and the Disneyland complex in that city.
Partnering with Napa on its parking evaluation is Dixon Resources Unlimited, a San Diego-based parking and transportation consultancy.
Valadez also described plans to improve Napa’s parking availability in other ways not requiring the millions of dollars needed for new construction, including modernizing technology for city parking enforcement officers and guiding drivers to the appropriate lots, garages and spaces for quick drop-offs or all-day storage.
“There are different ways to direct people to different locations, (to an) all-day parking area instead of a three-hour area,” he said. “We want to utilize existing spaces to maximum capacity before we make any major changes.”
Napa officials have considered a parking structure for more than 300 cars, which would go up behind Main Street’s Kyser-Lui building next to Napa Creek and cost at least $12 million. In addition, the city has commissioned a study to look into installing pay stations for high-demand parking slots, a modern-day reprise of the parking meters Napa removed in the mid-1990s.
Such steps, however, will be looked at in light of tourism growth and other changes unfolding downtown, according to city officials.
“We’re trying to take a fresh look at the entire situation in Napa, what the appropriate next steps should be and what the budget implications would be,” said Peter Pirnejad, Napa’s assistant city manager. “We didn’t want to rush into solutions that were recommended two years ago; we wanted to be confident the data still supports the same recommendations.”
Mike Parness, who will retire as city manager July 24 said: “I hate to say it, but it’s one of those problems you’d like to have. When I came here (in 2006) you could shoot cannon down the street and no one would be at risk because it just wasn’t very busy.”