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Fullerton to keep charging $5 for parking on popular nights in its downtown

Fullerton’s trial charging for nighttime parking in its popular downtown will be made permanent – at least for the next two years.

City leaders have been testing over the last six months charging $5 for parking in public structures near the heart of downtown after 9 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays. Parking at other times is free.

It has been going well enough that council members decided recently to extend the program. In the meantime, they plan to look at what to do for people who need to park in the downtown longer term, such as employees of the local businesses, because in some structures a good number of spaces already are taken before the charge kicks in at 9 p.m.

They also plan to develop more of a strategy for supporting and marketing the downtown, which could benefit the parking program, Councilman Ahmad Zahra said.

“I hope in these two years we can have a more holistic plan for our downtown,” he said.

About 1,900 parking spaces of the more than 4,000 available in the downtown are in structures that now charge after 9 p.m. As of the end of November, the city was averaging about $4,500 a week for paid parking, said Heather Allen, planning consultant for the city’s Economic and Community Development office.

Another $1,650 in revenue comes in weekly from citations for those who fail to pay for the parking.

After the cost of renting the parking kiosks, staffing and other expenses, the city makes about $1,800 a week in income, Allen said.

She said the Police Department will be making suggestions soon on how parking time limits in other downtown locations can be better enforced, which could increase revenues. Parking revenue can be used for things such as safety programs and reinvestment in the area, she said.

“We are dipping our toe in the water using one of the tools that we have,” she said of nighttime paid parking. “We are really looking at using paid parking to help manage the peak parking demands in the downtown to improve patron experiences.”

The city’s downtown bars and restaurants are very popular on weekends, with crowds swarming in from out of town.

Council members talked of a daytime validation program for businesses, modifying the hours for charging to park and using the paid parking to encourage people toward some of the underused lots in the area.

“I think it is going in the right direction,” Councilwoman Jan Flory said. “As people become accustomed to a flat fee, I think that our revenues will rise. I think it really permits us to actually manage our parking, which is not happening now.”

Source: Orange County Register

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