Tahoe/Placer County Parking Improvement District Study
Recommendations and Outstanding Questions
Based upon the findings discussed in the previous chapters, it is recommended that an in-lieu parking fee program be established for a district comprising the commercial core of Kings Beach east of SR 267. This program is expected to (1) result in an improved pedestrian shopping environment along the commercial blocks, (2) aid redevelopment efforts by providing owners of smaller properties in particular with the flexibility to meet parking requirements off-site, (3) reduce the overall parking needed to fully address all parking needs of future development, and (4) result in a more easily understandable parking program for visitors.
The viability of an in-lieu fee program in Tahoe City is much more up in the air, and depends in large part on the number of developments in the next few years that can be expected to contribute to the program, as well as the potential to identify new public parking locations that can meet the needs of these new developments.
Specific recommended characteristics of the parking program are as follows:
- A separate fund should be established to hold funds (and interest generated by these funds) that is reserved for the future provision of publicly accessible parking spaces, or other programs to reduce parking demand.
- The program should be limited to non-residential land uses only, within the PID boundaries ultimately chosen. Recommended boundaries are presented in Figures 1 and 2, above.
- Payment is typically due prior to issuance of a building permit, or a certificate of occupancy if a building permit is not required.
- It is not necessary to establish specific standards for maximum walk distance, nor is it necessary to identify specific locations for parking facilities funded through the in-lieu program. Instead, parking location decisions should be made over time, reflecting the changes in need for parking and opportunities to provide parking.
- The appropriate department of Placer County to administer the in-lieu fee program needs to be determined by the County Administrator. Once the fee program is established, no marginal change in staff costs is expected to administer the program.
- No specific maximum on the proportion of parking provided through the in-lieu program should be set, as there are some parcels that could potentially be developed with no on-site parking. On the other hand, participation in the program should not be a requirement (as it is in some other jurisdictions).
- It would be appropriate to limit the number of in-lieu spaces that could be provided as part of any one project application. This would ensure that larger projects (such as a new major lodging property) provide at least a portion of parking spaces on-site, and also ensure that an undue level of financial resources not be expended for any one project. A reasonable recommendation would be that in-lieu fee spaces can only be used for up to 50 percent of the number of required parking spaces over the first 50. Alternatively, the ability to pay in-lieu fees can be provided at the discretion of County staff (such as the Community Development Director), in which case a specific limit would not need to be identified in the enabling ordinance.
Identifying the appropriate fee per parking space will require additional discussion. This fee is probably not defensible if it is above the cost of providing a parking space, but there are no specific requirements as to what level below the per-unit cost the fee is set. As reflected in the review of existing programs in other communities, the proportion of total cost recouped through the fees is a policy issue that reflects the need to generate funding on one hand against the desire to expand public parking and encourage redevelopment on the other hand. The following factors should be considered in assessing the fee:
- As discussed above, the per-space cost of providing a new public parking space in the Brook Street lot was $33,750.
- A public parking space provides greater opportunity for shared parking use than does a private space (where use is limited to patrons of the private establishment). Fewer public spaces therefore need to be provided to meet a commercial district's overall parking needs than if all spaces were provided privately, which can be reflected in a reduction in the per-space fee. A reasonable measure of the reduction in fee that can be attributed to shared parking is the reduction in overall parking need that is identified when the area is considered on a shared parking basis. As shown in Table 1, the total peak parking demand of the Kings Beach commercial core area is estimated to equal 929 when shared parking use is excluded, dropping to 904 when consideration of shared parking is included. This indicated that this shared parking factor is equal to roughly a 3 percent reduction in the in-lieu fee. Applying this factor drops the per-space cost (rounded to the nearest hundred) to $32,700.
- It might also be argued that public parking spaces have a higher turnover (number of vehicles per day) than do private spaces. This, however, would not impact the required number of spaces at the peak time. In addition, when considered for the commercial zone as a whole, a shift from private to public parking cannot be expected to change overall parking duration and turnover. For these reasons, no associated reduction in fees can be justified.
- Establishing a fee level lower than the $32,700 per space needs to be determined based upon the desirability of encouraging public parking expansion and redevelopment efforts versus the availability of other funding for parking programs. In any case, it is important that adequate financial resources be available to actually construct the public parking needed to support new development in a timely manner. It should be noted that this parking is in addition to spaces needed to mitigate the loss of on-street parking associated with the Urban Improvement Project. A reasonable starting point for this discussion would be that the in-lieu fee would be set at half the full $32,700, or $16,350.
It is further recommended that a flat per-space in-lieu fee be applied, rather than the graduated fee schedule depending on the number of spaces needed that some of the other jurisdictions have implemented. A flat fee has the distinct advantage of providing greater equity among program participants.
Typically, establishing an in-lieu fee program requires nothing more than adoption of a County ordinance. Examples of ordinances adopted by other jurisdictions are presented in Appendix A. An example ordinance modeled on existing Placer County ordinances and reflecting the findings of this study is presented in Appendix B.
Parking regulations in the Tahoe Community Plan areas are set forth in Standards and Guidelines for Signage, Parking and Design: Lake Tahoe Region of Placer County, which was adopted jointly by the County of Placer and TRPA. However, Section A.6.c of this document specifically allows the use of an "assessment district," which can be construed to be another term for a PID. Nevertheless, TRPA should be contacted prior to establishment of a program in Kings Beach and/or Tahoe City to ensure there are no other legal requirements.
Based upon the discussion above, there are issues and questions that would need to be addressed in establishing a parking fee program, including the following:
- Are the recommendations presented above appropriate?
- Does the County want to set fees below the per-space construction cost, relying on other funding sources to help fund new parking lots?
- Does the County want to allow developers to rely wholly on an in-lieu fee program to meet parking requirements, establish a defined maximum level of in-lieu spaces that can be used (such as no more than 50 percent of spaces over the first 50), or leave the issue to the discretion of the county?
- Should the use of the in-lieu funds be limited strictly for the provision of new public parking spaces, or should the opportunity be provided to also use funds for other strategies (such as increases in transit services, ridesharing programs, or bicycle/pedestrian improvements) that are shown through a technical analysis to provide a significant reduction in parking needs?
- Should all in-lieu fees be required "up front," or should the County allow fees to be paid over time in exchange for a lien on the property?