City of St. Louis Parking Division Downtown St.

Louis Strategic Parking Assessment
I. Executive Summary
At the request of the Treasurer of the City of St. Louis (the Treasurer), we have conducted a strategic assessment of the Downtown St. Louis’ public parking programs. This report, which presents the results of that assessment, contains the following sections: • • • • Current Profile – a summary of relevant parking programs and other relevant parking issues for the Central Business District (CBD); Strategic Assessment Findings – a strategic assessment of current parking assets, programs and other relevant factors in the downtown area; Recommended Actions – suggested measures for improving public parking programs in the downtown area; and Implementation Issues – a preliminary discussion of potential implementation strategies.

This report should not be regarded as the penultimate (or even an exhaustive) analysis of downtown public parking issues in St. Louis. Rather, it is intended to highlight the most promising opportunities for improvement, and galvanize consensus—and action—among the affected stakeholders and public decisionmakers. The recommended measures, which are discussed in more detail in the Section IV, are summarized in the table below.
Summary of Recommended Actions for Improving Downtown Parking Type Short-term Recommended Action Make on-street parking rates more competitive Improve the productivity of on-street parking spaces Diversify on-street downtown parking permit programs Synchronize on-street parking enforcement with customer needs Establish a compelling brand for downtown parking programs Design a comprehensive downtown parking program Enhance the coordination of off-street parking resources Strengthen financing mechanism for relevant downtown improvements

D
Long-term

The process for diversifying and enhancing Downtown St. Louis’ public parking programs should be fact-based and collaborative. It should incorporate a thorough analysis of projected parking demand, patron preferences, parking capacity, best practices, technology and other innovations. And it should fully involve those who will be most affected by change—the CBD’s parking customers and stakeholders. This report is merely the first step in that process.

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Downtown St. Louis Strategic Parking Assessment

II. Current Profile
A. City Parking Programs The City Treasurer is an independently-elected official of the City of St. Louis (the City) with an array of municipal duties, including supervision of the City’s investment and cash management functions. In addition, under state law, the Treasurer serves as the Supervisor of the City’s Parking Division and Chairperson of the Parking Commission, that is, the City’s chief parking official. The Parking Commission is a statutory entity that sets parking regulations and policies for the City, and oversees the Parking Division. State law requires the Parking Commission and Treasurer to manage the City’s public parking operations. For example, under RsMo §82.485, the Parking Commission sets parking policies and rates, and under RsMo §82.487, the Treasurer manages public parking assets and public-private ventures. Local law assigns similar duties. For instance, the Parking Commission approves special parking zones, permit programs and meter operating hours1 and the Treasurer may take any necessary actions to control public parking, including deploying parking zones, meters and permit programs and enforcing parking regulations2. While a component of the City, the Parking Division is not funded through the City’s General Fund, an important distinction under generally accepted accounting principles. Rather, the Parking Division accounts for all financial activity through a self-supporting enterprise fund—the Parking Fund. In other words, while the Parking Division may transfer monies to the City’s General Fund 3, it does not use general tax revenues to fund its operations. So long as it meets its obligations under its bond covenants, the Parking Division may accumulate a portion of any surplus revenues it generates for relevant economic development projects. In 1992, the Parking Division designed an innovative system-wide parking financing structure that was—and remains—without parallel in the US. Since then, the Parking Division has judiciously used this structure to finance over $80.4 million in off-street parking facilities and build capital reserves for worthwhile projects. This has enabled the Parking Division to help the City with several vital economic development projects, including a parking garage for the Federal Reserve and a library branch in the Central West End. At the same time, this structure requires the Parking Division’s constant diligence to ensure that the City continues to meet its financial obligations under the Parking Revenue Bonds Indenture. B. Downtown St. Louis

1 These duties are set forth in Ordinance 17.62.050 and Ordinance 17.62.180. 2 These duties are set forth in Ordinance 17.62.050. 3 The Parking Division may transfer up to 40 percent of its net operating income to the General Fund.

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There is little doubt that Downtown St. Louis is the metropolitan region’s Central Business District (CBD). While it is commonly understood to comprise the area bordered by Cole Avenue, the Mississippi River, Interstate 64 and Jefferson, its precise boundaries depend on the source. Local law, at least for the purpose of parking violations, defines downtown as the area bounded by Delmar Avenue to the north, the Mississippi River to the east, Chouteau to the south and Tucker Boulevard to the west4 . The Parking Division, for the purpose of establishing parking meter zones, defines the CBD similarly, but with Cole Avenue as the northern border and Jefferson Avenue as the western border. The City’s recent CBD traffic study used a study area framed by Washington Avenue to the north, Memorial Drive to the east, Spruce Street to the south and Tucker Boulevard to the west. This area excludes several important downtown landmarks, such as City Hall, Union Station and the Scottrade Center. In contrast, the borders for the downtown Community Improvement District (CID) are Cole Avenue on the north, Memorial Drive on the east, Chouteau on the South, and 18th Street on the West5. The CID excludes the area bordered by Chestnut, 14th Street, Interstate 64 and 18th Street (e.g., Scottrade Center and Union Center). Regardless of how the CBD is defined (a uniform definition could prove helpful), its economic and social significance to the region is well-established. According to the Downtown St. Louis Partnership (the Partnership), downtown has at least 12,500 residents (up 4,000 since 1999) and $4.3 billion economic footprint and, since 2003, over 100 new restaurants and retail enterprises have opened downtown6. It is home to at least 1,600businesses, including several major employers, and an estimated day-time population of 130,000 persons. Like other downtown districts in major cities throughout the US, St. Louis’ CBD enjoys significant public parking assets. If we define the Downtown St. Louis as the 440-square block area bounded by Cass Avenue, Mississippi River, Chouteau and Jefferson Avenue, downtown contains an estimated 47,600 public parking spaces. This parking supply estimate includes 3,750 metered on-street parking spaces, over 43,800 off-street parking spaces and dozens of unregulated on-street parking spaces. There are119 off-street public parking facilities of which the City owns six facilities (with about 4,500 spaces or just over 10% of off-street spaces). Downtown parking capacity fluctuates in response to parking demand which, in turn, is a product of several forces. Economic conditions influence the number of downtown employers, as well as retail and other commercial activities. New
4

Ordinance No. 17.62.250.

5 See the Downtown St. Louis Partnership’s Fall 2008 Report. 6 See the Downtown St. Louis Partnership’s Fall 2008 Report.

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and proposed development projects, such as Ballpark Village, Kiel Opera House, Old Post Office Plaza, Gateway Mall and City Garden, can significantly increase downtown parking demand. Special event venues also can increase demand (Busch Stadium and the Scottrade Center alone generate over 240 events each year). Conversely, higher gas prices and more rigorous sustainability policies can suppress parking demand. It is difficult to calibrate long-term capacity to demand without some degree of foresight and coordination. More and more cities are finding that their CBDs, to prosper, can ill afford static, inflexible and uncoordinated public parking programs. Rather, these programs must be continually reexamined and adapted to public and private needs. For instance, in St. Louis, a CBD traffic study recently commissioned by the Downtown Now! offered several measures for improving vehicular and pedestrian circulation, including simplified signal operations, improved signal coordination, intersection modifications, one-way street conversions, and enhanced pedestrian crossings. While such measures will require many parking changes (e.g., signage, markings and curb cuts), make the CBD more pedestrian-friendly. Synchronizing the downtown parking system with such changes—and other emerging trends—becomes essential. C. Parking Improvement Districts Most CBDs cannot realize their full potential without a superior public parking program, one that ensures its patrons convenient and affordable access to parking. Attaining this standard, however, requires an effective partnership between the public and private sectors. Neither the private sector nor City Hall can develop a competitive public parking program alone. In recognition of this important principle, the St. Louis Board of Aldermen enacted enabling legislation in 20087 to empower the Parking Commission and Treasurer to form Parking Improvement Districts (PID) in selected areas of the City. Pursuant to this enabling authority, and subject to the Parking Commission’s oversight, the Treasurer may establish a PID in an appropriate district and create a municipal parking financing corporation (MPFC) to tailor parking regulations to the dynamic needs and operating conditions of that PID. Once formed 8, the MPFC can serve as the Parking Division’s primary organizational vehicle for designing, deploying and operating public parking programs and resources in the PID. What this means is that the Parking Division is poised to work with individual business districts to shape public parking programs to their respective parking needs. Instead of having to use a one-size-fits-all, citywide approach to public parking, the Parking Division now possesses the requisite tools to shape public parking programs to the defined needs of discrete districts. This approach
7 Ordinance No. 68077.

8 The MPFC must be a non-profit public benefit corporation (IRS 63-20 corporation) under the Missouri

Nonprofit Corporation Act.

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works best where the district’s needs are significant (and distinctive) and where the district enjoys strong stakeholder engagement and an effective mechanism for debating public parking issues and forging a consensus around proposed action. Fortunately, it appears that Downtown St. Louis is poised to work closely with the Parking Division. Through the Partnership, the CBD enjoys many of the assets that the PID legislation contemplates, including strong leadership, action-oriented staff and a proven process for engaging stakeholders in public parking issues. Through the Downtown CID (managed by the Partnership), the CBD has a solid mechanism for financing desired services (e.g., security, beautification, marketing and sanitation) 9 in a large portion of the CBD. It has even produced a downtown parking map and employs uniformed downtown guides to assist visitors. As such, the Partnership and CID could be vital elements of a modern downtown public parking system.

9 The CID, which was established in 2000 and re-authorized in 2005, raises $2.7 million annually from special

assessments.

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III. Strategic Assessment Findings
A. Overview This assessment, because it is strategic, outlines the most significant public parking issues confronting Downtown St. Louis. We have identified those parking issues that must be resolved to enhance the accessibility and utility of the CBD’s public parking assets, and help advance downtown’s pending economic development initiatives. They are: • • • • • The City lacks a cohesive, integrated downtown parking plan; Downtown parking programs are not effectively marketed; On-street parking rates are not competitive; On-street parking spaces are not used to their fullest capacity; and Parking enforcement has not kept pace with changing conditions.

In short, we believe that the CBD’s current public parking offerings could be vastly improved. Our relevant findings are discussed in more detail below. B. Key Findings 1. The City lacks a cohesive, integrated downtown parking plan. Downtown St. Louis has many plans and studies. Downtown Now! commissioned a downtown traffic and access study in 2006 and recently completed a downtown streetscape plan. The Parking Division has conducted parking demand and feasibility studies in connection with at least three proposed downtown parking garages. The Partnership has issued studies addressing other issues of import for downtown. But, there remains no unified plan for determining the CBD’s future public parking needs and strategies. The absence of a long-term downtown parking plan (or a public-private mechanism for financing capital projects for that matter) has several ramifications. First, the City and downtown businesses may lack an overarching, fact-based grasp of the CBD’s long-term parking needs. Second, Downtown advocates are compelled to address short-term parking demands in an ad hoc and anecdotal fashion, without a strategic context. Third, it is more difficult to anticipate (let alone exploit) emerging trends and opportunities for improving downtown parking. Finally, it deters efforts to develop a feasible, collaborative mechanism for projecting capital needs, allocating scarce resources to promising capital investments and financing such improvements in a sustainable manner. 2. Downtown parking programs are not effectively marketed. The Partnership has tried to promote downtown parking, and its downtown parking map represents a laudable (albeit small) step. But, the Partnership’s labors could benefit immeasurably from a more coordinated and comprehensive public-private strategy. An effective marketing strategy for downtown parking

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must address other elements such as signage and pricing—for off-street andstreet parking. And to the extent these marketing elements are under the purview of other entities, they should have better coordination.. Several factors could undermine downtown marketing efforts, and make parking products needlessly confusing to visitors and residents alike. For instance, directional or way-finding signs for off-street parking are scarce and parking facility signs lack a consistent, recognizable logo. Many of the CBD’s off-street parking facilities appear to be inconsistent in quality. There is a paucity of onstreet parking signs, and those that exist are outdated and confusing, if not illegible. Many of the downtown parking meters are difficult to read. The CBD lacks a central public parking website or data depository that can be easily updated or accessed. Such deficiencies may be a natural result of resource constraints or fragmentation, but regardless of cause, they are nonetheless detrimental. 3. On-street parking rates are no longer competitive. The City’s parking meter rate structure has been kept artificially low since 2001. At that time, the Parking Commission adopted a three-tier rate schedule: 1) $0.25 for every 15 minutes for high-demand zones 10, 2) $0.75 per hour for moderate-demand zones and 3) $0.50 per hour for low-demand zones. This rate structure, which prices virtually all meters from $0.50 to $0.75 per hour, is extremely low relative to other major cities. For example, the National Parking Association, in its 2008 parking rate survey, found that the premium on-street meter rate ranged from $1.00 to $3.00 per hour for major cities. More recently, an international parking services firm reported that the City of St. Louis’ average on-street meter rate was the lowest of 19 major cities it surveyed, less than 60 percent of Kansas City’s and Milwaukee’s rates 11. This same firm compared the City of St. Louis’ downtown on-street and offstreet rates for short-term parking (three hours), finding that the average downtown off-street parking rate is 3.6 times higher than the average onstreet rate12. This creates a profound incentive for long-term parkers to use metered parking, in turn suppressing space turnover and increasing meter plugging and traffic congestion. The downtown parking violation fine structure also has not been updated since 2001. Similarly, it is very low, at least compared to the fine structures of other major cities (see table below).

10 The high-demand zones only offer short-term meters (i.e., 15- and 30-minute meters). 11 Duncan Solutions, Inc. conducted this survey in July 2009. 12 Duncan Solutions, Inc. conducted this survey in July 2009.

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Downtown St. Louis Strategic Parking Assessment Parking Violation Fine Structure Class Class 1 Class 2 Class 3 Class 4 Class 5 Parking Violation Parking meter & street cleaning sign violations Minor parking violations (e.g., no parking, bus, taxi or commercial vehicle zone or yellow curb violation) Public safety violations (e.g., no stopping, double parking or blocking fire hydrant, lane or station) Disabled parking ordinance violations Commercial vehicle parking violations St. Louis Fine $10 $25 $30 $75 $100 Other Cities $25 - $60 $35 - $80 $55 - $255 $150 - $500 N/A

Note: Other city fines based on recent survey conducted by City of Portland; survey included ten cities (i.e., Cincinnati, Denver, Long Beach, Oakland, Portland, Sacramento, San Diego, Santa Barbara & San Francisco).

Based on a more recent survey, an international parking services firm reported that the City of St. Louis’ had the lowest parking violation rate structure of six major cities (i.e., Atlanta, Chicago, Kansas City, St. Louis, San Francisco and Seattle)13. To illustrate, St. Louis’ fine for an expired parking meter was only about 1/3 that of Kansas City. Unfortunately, low violation fines can encourage regulatory non-compliance (e.g., meter plugging). 4. Downtown on-street parking spaces are not used to their fullest capacity. On-street public spaces can be one of the most important public assets in a business district, especially in terms of their potential for boosting economic development initiatives. When too congested, they can discourage short-term parkers from patronizing retail shops and restaurants. When too vacant, they can make a street or block look deserted. While Downtown St. Louis’ on-street parking system has not been thoroughly analyzed in some time, at least some of its characteristics are understood. Its overriding feature is that it is part of a citywide system that can be difficult to tailor to individual business districts. In addition, based on a preliminary review of secondary data sources, we believe that there are many opportunities for improving the configuration and productivity of on-street spaces, e.g.: • • Downtown lacks clearly-defined, easy-to-understand parking zones; The average space length (21 to 28 feet) may be too long for some blocks and uses (this could reduce available spaces by up to five spaces for some block faces); Outdated regulatory restrictions (e.g., rush-hour restrictions) may reduce parking supply; Some parking spaces may have been inadvertently removed for special accommodations;

• •

13 Duncan Solutions, Inc. conducted this survey in July 2009.

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• • • •

Many bus and taxi cab zones are improperly located or sized; Meter time limits do not consistently parallel demand requirements14; Many spaces appear to be occupied by short-term parkers beyond the time limits; and Some metered spaces are removed from service without authorization (e.g., meter bagging by private parties for construction or valet parking).

Consequently, the CBD’s on-street parking spaces do not appear to be fully utilized. Based on preliminary surveys, most block faces, especially those in the highest-demand zones, have untapped parking space capacity (metered and non-metered). This situation, coupled with low parking rates, reduces on-street space availability for short-term parkers (e.g., retail and dining customers). Such conditions also can significantly contribute to serious traffic congestion and regulatory compliance problems. Moreover, the program’s dependence on single-space parking meters has discouraged the development of customized parking products. For example, single-space meters limit rate and payment mode flexibility. In addition, despite the heavy use of on-street parking spaces near entertainment venues, there is no special event permit program. There are many loading zones for delivery and other commercial vehicles, but they are not managed as part of a uniform, coherent public permit system. Other parking products, such as valet parking, are small, fragmented and privately-operated, and have encouraged the unauthorized periodic removal of parking meters from service. Simply put, Downtown St. Louis’ parking products lack the breadth and quality needed for a vibrant downtown business district. 5. Parking enforcement has not kept pace with changing needs in the CBD. The Parking Division’s parking enforcement program in the CBD has a traditional focus—to monitor motorist compliance with the City’s parking regulations and tag parking violations as they occur. In fact, this focus has been the primary rationale for parking enforcement units in major cities for many years, and St. Louis is no different. However, to help their business districts keep pace with suburban competitors, a growing number of major cities have reexamined their parking enforcement programs. They have concluded that the traditional parking enforcement program may no longer serve the needs of central business districts. St. Louis’ current downtown parking enforcement program has several opportunities for improvement. The parking violation rates are low, thereby discouraging compliance. Enforcement coverage is limited to regular business hours, regardless of need. Enforcement is concentrated on traditional issues (e.g., expired meters), perhaps at the expense of more pressing compliance issues (e.g., overtime parking). Finally, this traditional focus has a real opportunity cost—by limiting enforcement to parking tickets, the CBD may miss

14 Cities that have studied this issue have found that average parking duration in business districts ranges

from 75 to 90 minutes.

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opportunities to satisfy other stakeholder needs (e.g., patron assistance, merchant surveys and district security).

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IV. Recommended Actions
A. Objectives The Parking Division should work closely with the Partnership and, as necessary, other public agencies to refine public parking offerings in the CBD. This effort should complement other initiatives in the CBD and strive to attain the following goals: • • • • • • Increased retail activity and economic prosperity in the CBD: Outstanding patron service, including ample, safe, convenient and affordable parking; Optimal use of parking garages, on-street parking space and other relevant assets; Enhanced CBD streetscape, signage, lighting, security and appeal; Sustainable fiscal capacity for funding future parking initiatives; and Significant stakeholder involvement, cooperation and investment.

The CBD’s public parking programs should certainly encourage motorists to use appropriate parking spaces and patronize businesses there. Ultimately, they should do more—they should help produce an appealing, vibrant and prosperous CBD. The recommended measures for improving parking—both short-term and long-term—are outlined below. B. Recommended Short-Term Measures 1. Make on-street parking rates more competitive. The Parking Division should, with the Partnership’s support, develop and implement a market-based rate system for metered and other on-street parking spaces. Market-based on-street parking rates should be calibrated not only to current market conditions and projected demand, but off-street parking rates as well. On-street parking rates should be high enough to increase access for short-term parkers (e.g., they should encourage long-term parkers to use offstreet facilities). However, they should not be so high that they discourage short-term parkers or encourage regulatory non-compliance. The Parking Division should increase parking meter rates to at least $1.00 per hour throughout the CBD and $1.50 per hour in high-turnover zones near major employers, retailers and off-street facilities. It should carefully monitor parking space utilization after the initial rate increase to gauge the impact of new rates on occupancy patterns, and make any necessary rate adjustments to maintain acceptable occupancy levels. It also should raise parking violation rates in the CBD to levels maintained by comparable cities 15.

Per ordinance, the Parking Commission may increase meter fines by $5, street cleaning fines by $15, Class 2 fines by $10 and Class 3 fines by $20, but an appropriate housekeeping ordinance could increase the Parking Commission’s flexibility.
15

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With the Partnership’s involvement, the Parking Division also should initiate a competitive procurement process for multi-space meters (with credit card and pay-by-phone technologies) to enable it to make more sophisticated—and frequent—rate adjustments. Under a market-based pricing scheme, it will be necessary to periodically modify rates by zone, block, space, time interval, patron type and other factors. Multi-space meter technology, which has evolved since it was last tried in St. Louis, will provide this capability, support multiple payment modes (e.g., credit cards), enhance on-street aesthetics and make onstreet parking more convenient. A market-based rate model will give the CBD a powerful tool for reducing traffic congestion (as well as energy use and pollution), maximizing on-street parking turnover, diverting long-term parkers (i.e., over 90 minutes) to off-street facilities and improving the alignment of available parking spaces with customer needs. It also should enable the Parking Division to increase on-street parking revenues and help improve the profitability of garages. 2. Improve the productivity of on-street parking spaces. The Parking Division, with the involvement of the Streets Department and Partnership, should conduct a thorough inventory of all on-street spaces in the CBD. It should lead a team to assess the usage of such spaces and identify opportunities for using them more effectively for relevant economic initiatives. This effort should focus on the following issues: • • • • • • • Location, length and configuration of parking spaces; Duration of operating hours for metered and permit parking spaces; Efficacy of outdated regulatory restrictions (e.g., rush hour and intersection); Validity of other dubious restrictions (e.g., inactive standpipes and superfluous curb); Necessity, efficiency and dimensions of set-asides (e.g., bus and taxi stop zones); Productivity of special permit zones and spaces (e.g., loading and disabled); and Allocation of spaces for smaller, more fuel-efficient vehicles.

An effective inventory analysis will likely yield several opportunities, including increased or redeployed metered and permit (non-metered) spaces, and even angle parking spaces. For instance, some metered spaces could be added near inactive standpipes, in front of unnecessary curb cuts, or closer to suitable intersections. Commercial loading zones could be relocated. Some bus stop spaces might be consolidated with other restricted spaces (e.g., hydrant, mailbox or standpipe spaces). Perhaps some block faces might make apt candidates for green parking spaces (i.e., smaller spaces for accommodating smart cars, scooters and motorcycles). In addition to reconfiguring the CBD’s supply of on-street parking spaces, the Parking Division should re-examine the operating parameters for these spaces. For example, the Parking Division should consider resuming metered parking on

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Saturdays and increasing metered hours where appropriate (e.g., 10 pm near entertainment venues and restaurants and 8 pm for other meters). It also should recalibrate meter time limits based on the results of the inventory and subsequent demand studies (e.g., reduce meter time limits to 90 minutes in front of appropriate enterprises). To make this work, the Parking Division should establish distinct parking zones with standardized time limits for each zone based on approved criteria (e.g., business type, patron needs and proximity to other parking). Such actions will make the system more userfriendly increase short-term parking space turnover and productivity, improve regulatory compliance and support other parking initiatives.

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3. Diversify on-street downtown on-street parking permit programs. The Parking Division should migrate from a meter-centric on-street parking program to a diverse array of market-driven on-street parking programs. It should work with the Partnership to supplement metered parking with tailored permit parking programs that will meet the needs of the CBD’s parking stakeholders. This initiative could include the following ideas: • • • • • • Special event permit parking zones with expanded hours and market-based rates; Valet parking program for hotels, restaurants, clubs and other traffic generators; Consolidated taxi cab stands at major attractions and employment centers; Merchant validation parking program for participating enterprises; Revamped commercial loading and parking program16 ; and More effective and efficient disabled parking permit program.

Modern parking permit programs could have certain pre-requisites, such as more reserved (non-metered) spaces, extended operating hours and tighter meter controls. And they will require the City to revamp its downtown parking signage. Given the likely cost of this investment, the Parking Division and Partnership should explore ways to help the Streets Department plan, finance and implement a new on-street signage system. 4. Synchronize on-street parking enforcement with defined needs. In tandem with the Metropolitan Police Department, the Parking Division should re-calibrate the downtown parking enforcement program to the unique needs of the CBD’s parking stakeholders. It should, for example, consider the following tactics: • • • Align on-street parking enforcement hours and coverage with parking demand; Optimize enforcement beat structure and patrol practices; Increase enforcement activities to address critical compliance issues (e.g., meter plugging, overtime parking by space and overtime parking by block); and Expand enforcement services to address stakeholder needs (e.g., patron assistance, merchant surveys and district security).

The Parking Division should explore alternative ways to make parking enforcement more customer-oriented in the CBD. One option, subject to the Parking Commission’s approval, could be to outsource parking enforcement services in the CBD to an entity that is qualified to provide such services without any conflict of interest. This could facilitate efforts to expand the scope of parking enforcement services.
16 The City’s traffic study recommended refined commercial loading zones that prohibit on-street loading

during peak commuter traffic periods and minimize vehicular and pedestrian interference.

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5. Establish a compelling brand for downtown parking programs. The Parking Division should support the Partnership’s recommendation to design, adopt and promote a single brand for public parking in the CBD. This new brand should be distinctive, but uniform for all public parking offerings in the CBD. It should, for instance, be built around shared promotional materials (e.g., logo, tag line, maps, brochures and website). It should complement current downtown way-finding systems with new parking-oriented way-finding systems. And it should entail new facility signage, on-street signs and meter labels (e.g., information on rates, operating hours and special restrictions), as well as an efficient communications system for tracking and resolving parking complaints as they arise. The Partnership should take the lead in crafting a joint marketing effort for public parking in the CBD. It should, for example, strive to develop and execute a Joint Parking Agreement (JPA) among the district’s public parking operators. The JPA should address the CBD’s collective parking needs, and the key elements of a comprehensive and effective downtown parking strategy (e.g., plans, programs, rates and marketing). It also should provide a mechanism for raising, discussing and reconciling parking issues among stakeholders C. Recommended Long-Term Measures 1. Design a comprehensive downtown parking program. The Parking Division should work closely with the Streets Department and Partnership to design a new public parking program that will meet the CBD’s needs long into the future. This program should have several features, including the following: • Patron-driven – tailor a diverse range of validation, valet, event and other special parking offerings to the varied, ever-changing needs of key parking customers; Fact-driven – base policy, programmatic and operational decisions on objective and continual efforts to track and anticipate public parking demands in the CBD; Collaborative – constantly reconcile parking policies and products with the needs of CBD’s stakeholders based on a structured stakeholder engagement process; Innovative – identify and leverage available proven parking technologies and the best practices of well-managed public parking programs; and Cost-effective – ensure well-managed, well-coordinated, efficient and affordable programs.

• •

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Such planning should, at a minimum, employ the criteria set forth in local law,17 such as public parking space supply, public parking demands, traffic congestion, transportation, public health and safety, competitiveness and efficiency. The new downtown traffic circulation and streetscape plan will necessitate several actions that will affect public parking (e.g., the possible conversion of one-way streets). As such, it affords a unique opportunity to reassess and revamp the current downtown parking programs. The planning should commence with a comprehensive downtown parking demand and capacity study to obtain a better understanding of downtown parking needs (e.g., patron types, usage, duration, preferences and sensitivities). This work will not be completed overnight, but it should begin right away. 2. Enhance the coordination of off-street parking resources. In conjunction with the Partnership and CBD’s parking facility operators, the Parking Division should develop—and the Parking Commission should adopt— uniform standards for licensing off-street facilities. The standards could address such issues as the following: • Parking supply (e.g., criteria for determining the optimal number and location of off-street parking spaces for meeting the CBD’s projected demand); Facility quality (e.g., appearance, layout, striping and access); Facility marketing practices (e.g., signage, advertising and pricing; Facility operating standards (e.g., lighting, security and maintenance); and Business licensing program for parking facility operators.

• • • •

The Partnership could use the JPA process to engage stakeholders and secure their support in shaping and recommending standards for public off-street parking programs. The Parking Commission could adopt the recommended standards as deemed necessary. 3. Strengthen financing mechanism for relevant downtown improvements. Subject to Parking Commission and bond trustee approval, the Parking Division should consider developing a feasible public-private mechanism for financing future investments in the CBD’s public parking programs and related programs. A shared investment model matching public funds with contributions from private beneficiaries of such investments could generate substantially more funds for high-priority projects. A portion of the public funds could come from incremental net parking revenues realized from market-based rate increases in the CBD. The private funds required to match the incremental parking funds for a given project could vary based on that project’s relevance to on-street parking.

17 Ordinance 17.62.050 sets forth criteria to be used by the Parking Commission in refining public parking

programs.

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A well-designed public parking program should generate additional net revenues in the CBD, and the Parking Division should consider allocating a reasonable portion of such net revenues to the CBD (after satisfying anticipated Parking Fund obligations under the bond covenants). Public funds could pay for new on-street parking technology in the CBD. Coupled with contributions from private partners, the public funds could support other vital projects, such as sidewalks, cross-walks, other streetscape improvements, signage, lighting and security systems. In time, these investments could help improve the CBD’s image, increase patronage, support local businesses and solidify stakeholder support for public parking programs.

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V. Implementation Issues
A. Potential Implementation Constraints As with any change, the ability to implement the recommendations for improving the CBD’s public parking programs could be affected by certain constraints, such as those below: • • Legal – the City’s parking codes are outdated and could impair the City’s ability to tailor public parking programs to customer needs in the CBD; Stakeholders – it is ill-advised to change parking programs in any business district without the active participation (if not support) of the district’s businesses; Funding – public revenues alone, especially in light of existing bond indentures, cannot finance the CBD’s needed investments (e.g., lighting, signage, sidewalks, landscaping, other streetscape improvements and other public amenities); Decision-making – it is tough to adapt citywide policies to unique district demands without a creative public-private partnership and an agile decisionmaking process; and Public accountability – a new collaborative model for planning and financing capital improvements in the CBD will require rigorous accountability standards for public funds.

Other implementation obstacles may arise, but a well-conceived project plan will help ensure that the Parking Division and Partnership successfully navigate those obstacles. B. Potential Implementation Strategies Implementation of the recommended actions will require greater analysis and stakeholder collaboration, as well as the following implementation strategies: • Legal – the Board of Aldermen should enact a housekeeping ordinance to update the City’s parking codes and the Parking Commission should adopt companion parking regulations; Stakeholders – the Partnership should consider creating a JPA to help coordinate public parking programs and meet the collective parking needs of the CBD’s parking patrons; Funding – to marshal ample resources and encourage joint action, the Parking Commission should authorize the Parking Division to create a MPFC for the CBD; Decision-making – the Parking Commission should grant the MPFC sufficient distributed authority to ensure the responsiveness of the CBD’s public parking programs; and Public accountability – the Parking Division should help the MPFC craft uncompromising accounting policies and procedures for tracking public parking revenues in the CBD.

Page 18 – Draft (September 24, 2009)

Downtown St. Louis Strategic Parking Assessment

Finally, once the Parking Division and the Partnership arrive at a mutuallyagreeable strategy for improving public parking programs in the CBD, they should devise a structured and sound project management methodology. This approach, which should include a project charter, ad hoc oversight committee, project manager, implementation plan and project budget, will strengthen the ability of the parties to resolve the potential implementation issues.

Page 19 – Draft (September 24, 2009)

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