More visitors streaming into the same pocket-size downtown equals a search for a few more parking spaces at the north end of Yountville – and curbs on commercial vehicles lingering in front of houses.
A package of rule changes passed by the Town Council includes painting curbside parking slots on sections of Washington and Jefferson streets on the north side of central Yountville, in an effort to relieve stress on townsfolk, vacationers, customers and employees in a community only a handful of blocks wide from east to west.
The additional slots would occupy a block of Washington in front of two businesses, Pancha’s bar and the Ciccio restaurant, and South Jefferson Street on the east side of Van de Leur Park.
To further relieve crowding, the resolution also imposes a three-hour limit on those who leave their cars on certain sections of Washington Street – the town’s north-south spine – or near Yountville Community Park.
The resolution council members approved Tuesday also requires most limousines and tour buses to stick to Yountville’s main streets where most eateries, shops and hotel rooms are clustered.
Commercial vehicles weighing more than 10,000 pounds will be barred from residential streets including Pedroni, Starkey Avenue, Adams, Monroe, Webber Avenue and Mulberry, as well as the northernmost section of Jefferson Street to the town border.
The changes are the outgrowth of more than 2 ½ months of discussions about better managing scarce parking capacity in Yountville, where fine cuisine, hotels and wine tasting rooms play an outsize role in a compact community of fewer than 3,000 residents. Proposals to add curb spaces and impose a time limit grew out of a pair of council-sponsored parking workshop in July and August.
A three-hour maximum will apply on the east shoulder of North Washington Street between Pedroni and Madison streets, as well as on South Washington’s west shoulder next to Veterans Memorial Park. Parking spaces on Jackson Street also will be time-limited on the side facing Yountville Park, which forms the town’s northwest corner.
All five council members supported the parking changes – but not before resistance from one of the restaurants that would adjoin a new parking zone.
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Frank Altamura Jr., a member of the family that owns Ciccio on Washington Street, cited a 2012 agreement allowing the eatery to keep parked vehicles away from the front of the historic wooden building, which opened as the Tonascia Market in the 1910s. Curbside spaces, he said, would put exhaust fumes too close to diners, slow down people trying to leave in an emergency and put pedestrians at risk from cars on a stretch of street with no east sidewalk.
However, council members were reluctant to give Ciccio or the Altamuras special consideration amid a parking shortage, particularly because Yountville still owns the right of way of which the restaurant’s covered patio is a part.
“Ciccio is enjoying the benefit of several feet of town property,” said Kerri Dorman. “To say ‘I don’t mind a sidewalk as long as you don’t put it where I’m already encroaching,’ I don’t think that’s a good, fair trade; it’s the town’s right of way. If Ciccio is concerned about health and safety, let us put in a 3-foot sidewalk. In the north end of town, every space counts.”
“I don’t think it would be fair to put parking in front of one business and not another,” added Margie Mohler, pointing to the presence of parked cars beside Pancha’s next door to Ciccio. “We do need every space we can get.”
Some of the resistance to parking changes along Washington Street stem from the northern section’s reputation as the part of Yountville closer to its rural roots and less touched by wine-country tourism – even if haute cuisine and the other touches of high-end leisure have now reached it, according to Mohler.
“I don’t think they’re problematic, I think they’re new, and I think it’s a change,” she said of the new rules. “And I have a feeling once you get these things in place, people will find ways around there.”
Later in the week, another, separate parking controversy emerged farther south on Washington Street, on the largest privately owned lot downtown.
On Thursday, management at The Estate Yountville retail complex began charging visitors to park at its off-street lot – from $20 for two hours for shoppers to $50 for non-guests – without Yountville’s permission, according to Town Manager Steve Rogers.
“The Town believes this action violates the use permits for the property and the Yountville Municipal Code and has advised the property ownership of this,” he wrote in an email that afternoon. “Town staff has also reached out to property ownership to meet and attempt to assist them with developing an acceptable parking management solution that meets their needs and is consistent with The Estate Yountville approved use permits and the Yountville Municipal Code.”