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A Tale of Three Cities, Act One
To: Sacramento City Council
From: Chip Powell
Subject: Motorcycle Parking Solutions
The city's parking facilities office has proposed that motorcycles pay 75% of what automobiles pay for a monthly permit -or $93.75 per month. According to the Sacramento Bee on February 18, 2001 (page B2, item number four, <http:// www. sacbee. com/ news/ news/ local08_ 20010218. html>), the city has reached an agreement with motorcyclists where we would pay 25% of what automobiles pay for a monthly permit, or $31. 25.
I hope you will keep the policy the city has had in place for the past four years: namely, that motorcycles may park in city garages without charge. I don't have to tell you what a bind the city is in regarding the downtown parking issue. The Sacramento Bee also reports in another article also of February 18, 2001 (page B1, <http:// www. sacbee. com/ news/ news/ local03_ 20010218. html>) that the city is facing a parking crisis downtown of epidemic proportions. The park-ing crisis has many causes: the strong economy, the high employement rate, the increase in convention center usage, and of course the construction of the fed-eral courthouse with minimal integrated parking and the Cal-EPA building with no integrated parking spaces. The courthouse and Cal-EPA buildings' infusion of several thousand new workers to the downtown area without integrated park-ing has exacerbated an already tenuous parking situation. It seems the city has also allowed the Sheraton to build their new hotel on J Street without integrat-ed parking as well! At what point will the city begin to lose conventions, exhi-bitions, hotel guests, and new business due to automobile drivers' frustration over the lack of parking downtown as noted in the Bee article? Mark Miller, the city's parking facilities manager, admits the construction of the new $20 million lot at 14th and H streets will merely "be like letting a little steam out of the pres-sure cooker." (Sacramento Bee, 2/ 18/ 01, p B3). The city's parking crisis is fast becoming a catastrophe and is in dire need of solutions.
The Great Sacramento parking War Part of your solution should be to keep the status quo for motorcycles. Dozens of motoryclists -like bicyclists -park in the city lots each day without charge, and take up NO automobile parking spaces. If the Bee's article is correct and the city will indeed only charge motorcyclists $31. 25 for monthly permits, some riders may take the city up on its offer. I guar-antee, however, that many will not. I would think that when facing such a park-ing crisis as the city is now, it would not want to aggravate the problem -how-ever slightly -by making parking more difficult and more costly for dozens of workers who operate a vehicle which can be safely parked downtown without taking up a single automobile parking space. The city faces another dilemma if it chooses to abandon it's present motorcycle parking policy: that of the tran-sient motorcycle parker. It is all well and good to force regular motorcycle com-muters to buy monthly permits, however, what about the motorcycle rider who only needs to come downtown occasionally and park just a couple of hours? How does the city propose dealing with this transient parker? Those with per-mits may continue to crowd into designated but obscure garage areas, but Mr. Miller proposes installing expensive transient motorcycle parking meters inside the city garages to accommodate transient motorcyclists. These meters will cost several hundred dollars apiece and, more importantly, will require a larger desig-nated space for a single motorcycle -something in the neighborhood of three to four feet wide, by eight to ten feet long (in order to clearly determine which motorcycle belongs to which meter). Although transient motorcycle parkers may be few, the city would still need to supply a number of spaces for them.
These spaces will almost certainly take up even more automobile spaces. Also, what happens when the transient meter spaces are full; where will the transient motorcyclist park? There may be room to squeeze in with the permitted motor-cycles, but without the permit, he risks a ticket. There may be empty auto spaces, but then how does he pay for his parking? Also, what if the motorcycle permit parking spaces are full? Can the permitted motorcyclist use a meter with-out paying extra? Can he take an automobile space if one is available? What does the permit holder do when his hanging permit is stolen -and some of these will assuredly be stolen -and he is ticketed? If we have stickers instead of hang-ers for our motorcycles, what happens to those of us who own two bikes? As you can see Councilman, any system of charging motorcyclists quickly degen-erates into a byzantine web of bureaucratic complexity.
The city is installing brand new revenue control entry systems which will not sense motorcycles. The city, for liability reasons, will not allow motorcycles to pull a ticket and pass under the entry arms like cars. Given all this, why not con-tinue to let motorcycles park in designated areas unsuitable for automobile park-ing? The city provides free bicycle racks and lets bicyclists chain their bikes inside the garages without cost. It should be the same for motorcycles, since neither vehicle can be sensed by the entry system, and the use of both vehicles is part of the overall traffic congestion and environmental solution.
Every plan to charge motorcyclists is a bad one. Each plan leads to more prob-lems for the city, chiefly, the loss of automobile spaces in a time when even the few dozen spaces motorcyclists are not using daily are desparately needed. Allowing motorcyclists to continue parking without charge in the city lots makes good sense for the city.
* Fewer automotive parking spots taken
* Motorcycles contribute far less to traffic congestion
* Motorcycles use less precious fossil fuels
* Motorcycles emit fewer emissions into the environment
A motorcycle-friendly parking policy should be part of the region's overall traf-fic congestion and environmental protection agenda. A motorcycle-friendly park-ing policy is forward-thinking in an era where you want to get as many single drivers out of large vehicles as you possibly can. I urge you Councilman Cohn, the Mayor, and the other City Councilmembers to order the city parking facili-ties office to keep the status quo on the motorcycle parking issue. I sincerely appreciate your attention.Chip Powell,
Information Technology Specialist
California Legislative Counsel Bureau To: Sacramento City Council
From: Peter Jackson
Subject: Motorcycle parking solutions
A couple of points. One, the City lacks sufficient parking downtown --they are not even taking names for a waiting list for car spaces. So motorcyclists, by not driving, ease a tight situation. Every shopper at the downtown mall who uses a motorcycle is one less shopper who could conceivably be turned away to shop at Arden Fair or Roseville. Every commuter on a motorcycle means one more 4 wheeler can be accommodated. The new parking lot will cost over $10,000 per space (!). So the City should look to encourage motorcyclists.
Two, the City staff has discretion on the rate for motorcycle use. They propose a fee of 75% of 4 wheeler fee. As Don points out, motorcycles use significantly less space. Not only can 5 motorcycles fit into a 4-wheeler space, they can fit into nooks and crannies that otherwise would be unused. Plus, 4-wheelers require significant roadway width between rows for turning into the space. The real ratio is more like 10 to 1.
Three, the City is developing this policy at staff level. Council should decide transportation policy, including motorcycle use.
Four, the City is consciously not including the motorcycle community in this dis-cussion. At the meeting, I specifically asked the City to wait to implement the change in policy until summer, so that motorcyclists could be notified. Mark Miller specifically said that would be a bad thing, as it would get more motor-cyclists involved. Amazing. I asked him if he would like to repeat that statement to my City Councilor? The City has not attempted to notify motorcyclists with signs in the parking structures or anything such as that.
Five, the City should examine policy in other jurisdictions. I parked in downtown Los Angeles, Bunker Hill, for free. The garage had a slot set aside with a series of rubber poles to separate the slot from the cars. Neither LAX nor Burbank air-ports charge motorcyclists. Locally, the state parking garages charge less for motorcycle parking. I parked in the lot at Q and 8th for $12 per month. San Francisco and Berkeley both provide lots of on-street parking. The rate in SF is 25 cents for 4 hours, up to 12 hours, and they get a lot of people out of their cars. In Berkeley, motorcycle parking is free of charge.
Six, the City administration already has discretion whether to charge for motor-cycle parking if the cost of collecting the fee overwhelms the cost of adminis-tering the parking, then they should not charge. They talk of a complex system with either monthly hang-tags or stickers. What about someone such as me with multiple bikes? That argues for a hang-tag. But what if that hang-tag is stolen and they ticket my bike? I have to go to hearings to get the ticket voided, wasting their time and mine. If every month we have to stand in line to get a new sticker, what a waste of time. If the stickers have permanent glue, then how do I remove it for next month? If temporary glue, then thievery becomes a prob-lem again. What an administrative nightmare is this the Parking Administrator Full Employment Act? It rapidly becomes an bureaucratic nightmare, and motor-cyclists have to deal with it, or drive cars to downtown, further aggravating the tight parking (see point one).
I found the meeting frustrating for the City seemed to view motorcycles as a bur-den, not part of the solution. Peter Jacobsen
To: Ed Cox
From: Jacobsen, Peter
Subject: Motorcycle Parking
Do you get involved in motorcycle parking as Sacramento's alternative mode coordinator? There's an issue with a new gating system being installed in City-owned parking garages. Evidently the gate vendor and the City's risk manager don't want motorcycles to use the gates. At present, motorcycles bypass the gate with a painted slot, but in talking with the City's manager, Richard Ching, some 4-wheel vehicles bypass the gate. There's a meeting scheduled for 30 Jan at noon (1030 15th St). I plan to attend.
I'm amazed the City is building yet another parking garage for (I bet) over $10,000 per 4-wheeler space, but in existing garages, is considering no longer accommodating motorcyclists, who cost the City almost nothing. Richard Ching talked of reluctance to spend $30,000 to build a slot to accommodate motorcycles -chump change compared to the tens of millions the parking garage costs (do you know the cost and number of spaces for the new garage?)
Given the huge costs of accommodating 4-wheeler parking, the City should support alternative modes (with secure bicycle parking and accommodation for motorcyclists).
To: Peter Jacobsen
From: Donald Van Dyke,
Subject: FW: Decision on Motorcycle Permits (Jason Scott with the Sacramento Parking Facilities Division asked me to forward this to you.)
| Hello again everyone,|
Before we post notice in the garages, I wanted to let you all know the Parking Division's plans for motorcycle permits. Effective April 1, 2001, motorcycles will need a parking permit to park in City garages. The cost of a monthly permit will be 60 percent of the automobile rate for each garage and motorcycles must con-tinue to be parked in designated motorcycle parking areas. The cost, for exam-ple, at the 10th and I garage will be $75.00 for motorcyclists as opposed to $125.00 for automobile customers.
Meters will begin to be installed inside some garages and outside other garages for non-commuters (i. e. hourly parkers). Parking staff is currently in the process of obtaining motorcycle parking permits. Permits will be available for purchase at our office at 312 K Street (Tel. 264-5110) beginning on March 26, 2001. I want to thank you all for attending one or both of the meetings we held over the last few months, and the Parking Division appreciates your input and efforts on behalf of continued motorcycle access to City parking garages.
From: Peter Jacobsen
Subject: RE: Decision on Motorcycle Permits
This outcome is the worst of all possible outcomes. With an out-right ban, the City would have mitigated it with by providing better on-street parking accom-modation. But we have a de facto ban, with unreasonably high parking rates and no improvement in on-street parking.
To: Peter Jacobsen
Well, so much for trusting in the good faith of the parking division. There are two ways to ban motorcycles: an outright ban or creating a fee so unreasonable that most people will either be unable to pay, or unwilling, as a matter of prin-ciple, to pay . The parking division met with strong opposition on the first so has resorted to the second. The decision is especially egregious in that they will still require motorcycles to park in otherwise unusable nooks and crannies, space that otherwise produces no revenue whatsoever. I had hoped that the interest expressed by so many riders and at least two city council members would have caused a fair decision. Obviously, it has not. Every motorcycle rider, and others with an interest in a less congested inner-city, should contact their council mem-ber and ask that this arbitrary 60% of a car fee (which comes out to $75) be reconsidered.
To: Councilman Yee:
From: John Blue
We were recently treated to this e-mail from the City Parking Division staff. While they thanked us for attending meetings, it appears it was a waste of our time. As I stated in my earlier communications, I am not apposed to paying. However, I am apposed to paying an unreasonable amount.
As I have stated before, you could put a large number of motorcycles in either city garage without impacting auto parking at all. (Using the corners, etc.) If the admin-istrative costs make it not worthwhile to charge a fair price, then don't charge any-thing. The city wins by not having to administer another program, by not having to purchase additional equipment (i. e. parking meters at $500 each), and by free-ing up parking spaces for autos.
It appears the city staff is not looking at the parking situation in a holistic manner. If it is unreasonably expensive for me to park my motorcycle downtown, then I will just be adding another car to the problem. Thank you.
To: John Blue
From: Councilman Jimmie Yee
Subject: Re: FW: Decision on Motorcycle Permits
Dear Mr. Blue:
Because of the large number of messages I've received expressing strong objec-tions to the Parking Division's plan to change access and charge fees for motor-cycles parked in city garages and protesting the process that preceded this deci-sion, it's not feasible for me at this time to provide individual responses within the limited timeframe remaining before the proposed implementation date of April 1, 2001.
In reviewing all of your emails, I concluded there were three primary issues. As a result, I contacted our Off-Street Parking Division Manager, Mark Miller, and asked him to specifically address these issues. Included below are the questions and responses I received:
1) Motorcycles occupy less space than cars; therefore, should be allowed to park without charge or at a more deeply discounted rate. "Parking services are not sold by "space occupied" but by time parked. Hyundais are small, but they don't pay less by the hour or by the month than large SUVs. Motorcycle users benefit from parking garage maintenance, security, lighting, and custodial servic-es, and should share in those costs as well as the considerable costs of devel-oping new garages. At 60% of the posted parking rate, City of Sacramento prices will be lower than almost all parking providers in the City."
2) The City is gouging motorcycle riders. "Motorcycle customers will receive a substantial 40% discount from regular parking rates. Carpoolers receive only a 25% discount. Only one of the eight or nine companies that operate parking in Downtown Sacramento discounts parking. None of the operators allow free parking. The City Parking Facilities Division is supposed to charge for commuter parking at the market rate. With motorcycles, we are less expensive than most parking service providers in the Downtown."
3) I have a car and already purchase a parking pass. I should be able to ride my motorcycle to work occasionally and not pay additional money." Automobiles access parking using proximity cards that are tracked and verified automatically by the revenue control system that counts vehicles and calculates charges. Motorcycles cannot safely navigate revenue control gates, and therefore, can't use proximity cards to enter parking garages. Motorcycles that park in City garages are tracked as if they were parked in a surface parking lot. They display a sticker, and motorcycles lacking a sticker are cited. If both motorcycle permits and automobile permits were issued to the same individual, there is no way for parking staff to know whether both permits are used concurrently. The City can't issue a free motorcycle pass to persons holding a regular monthly auto-mobile permit because that person could pass the motorcycle permit on to friends or co-workers. With no mechanism to prevent this, such abuses could go undetected for months. Attempting to cross-reference and enforce motorcy-cles and cars that shared a single permit would be an expensive, labor intensive manual process that would impact parking enforcement officers."
The City Council previously approved a range of fees, which grants the Parking Division discretionary authority to implement parking fees within a specified range. At the time, it was anticipated after resolution of several technical con-siderations and a process involving community input, eventually fees within the approved range would be charged to motorcycle users.
Under these circumstances, I can only suggest you may want to consider mak-ing your case in person to the council during the Public Question &Answer seg-ment, which is agendized towards the end of both the Tuesday afternoon and evening sessions, sometime before April 1, 2001. Generally, council discussion of items not on the agenda is limited; however, it does provide an opportunity for you to discover if there is support on the council to reconsider this issue. None of the city's parking garages are located within my council district, so the councilmember for the particular district in which you park should be your most important point of contact, and will likely be influential in any decision I am asked to make. I hope this information is of assistance in your decision as to any future action you may or may not wish to pursue.
Jimmie R. Yee
Councilmember, District 4
To: Jimmie Yee
From: Chip Powell
Subject: RE: Motorcycle Parking in City Lots
I very much appreciate your thoughtful response to the motorcycle riders and your pursuit of answers from Mr. Miller. I also understand that you cannot reply to each individual complaint you receive on this matter. For the rest of the Council, Mr. Miller, and the rest of the riders I offer these respsonses and griev-ances:
1) Motorcycles occupy less space than cars... (long excerpt removed-ed.)
2) The City is gouging motorcycle riders... (long excerpt removed-ed.)
Right, whether an auto is a Hyundai Excel or a Ford Excursion, each vehicle is entitled to 185 square feet of parking space. If the city wants to create revenue from motorcycles -when its own revenue control entry/ exit system is incapable of tracking these vehicles -shouldn't these vehicles be entitled to a similar ratio of space? If you want me to pay 60% of what cars pay, why can't I have 60% of the space (111 square feet)?
The parking office and City Council is acting nauseatingly self-congratulatory on giving riders cheaper parking than other lots in the city. However, what the office is actually doing is scrapping a four year policy of charging zero dollars. Our cost has risen from zero dollars per month to $75.00 per month, and we're supposed to be happy about it? What if gas prices rose to $3.00 per gallon -should we be grateful because that's substantially cheaper than gasoline in Europe or Japan? What if I stole $50.00 from your wallet, would you be grateful I didn't steal a hundred?
When the city, prior to 1997, charged motorcyclists the same as autos there were no complaints. The only complaints were that your entry/ exit arms were knock-ing riders off their bikes. That was a problem. Between 1997 and 2001 there have been no problems.
If motorcyclists should share the cost of developing new garages, shouldn't also the bicycle riders who chain their bikes for free in your garages? (In Lot H there is MORE space for bicyclists (not counting the bike lockers) than for motorcy-cles). Shouldn't the pedestrians who cut through the garages to avoid the rain help share these costs? Shouldn't the homeless who sleep in your garages? What about the stray animals who wander in, shouldn't they pay their fair share? The garages were built for cars and trucks. Your own revenue control sys-tems will ONLY read these vehicles. Why are you trying to gouge other users, which is exactly what you're doing? You can say you're not, but you are. When for four years you charge somebody nothing -and encountered no problems because of it, and then you begin to charge them $900.00 per year, YOU ARE GOUGING THEM!
Also, am I the only one starting to go deaf from the sound of the City Council members screaming "it's not my district!" Guess what? It's NO ONE's district right now. I charge that the parking office has worked on this issue between December, 2000 and April, 2001 purposely and specifically for this reason and one other -it is the season when there are the fewest riders. That is cowardly government. If the city really cares about having "community input" from the riders, will you PLEASE wait until normal ridership levels begin in the spring and summer before you enact a policy which will affect these riders too? For pete's sake, you met with us in December and January!!! If the city really cares about having community input from the riders, will you please wait until District One has a Councilmember to represent it on these issues? I believe the city does not care one bit about the motorcycle riders. The city is also nauseatingly self con-gratulatory about having "reached a deal" with the riders, as reported in the Sacramento Bee. The city reached no deal, but decided that a new policy would soon commence. This is bad government.
3) I have a car and already purchase a parking pass... (long excerpt removed-ed.) So with a car parking pass, I can drive a different car into the garage every sin-gle day. From a Ford Excursion to a Hyundai Excel. However, if I'm a casual or infrequent motorcycle rider I cannot EVER ride that motorycle -which has one fifth the footprint of a car -into the lot for which I have already paid? Because motorcycles cannot safely navigate revenue control gates? Your gates cannot safely allow riders to enter, sir, not the other way around. If they could, you would not be concerned about liability. Agreed, giving auto permit holders motorcycle passes would create a complex situation difficult to enforce. Your whole new motorcycle policy is creating a complex situation which will be dif-ficult to enforce! Why change a good policy, which was working, and was not complicated? Again, bad government.
What about the day use riders? Where will they park? How many spaces will you have for them? How much money do you need to make on the permits to offset the cost of the day use meters and whatever auto spaces they usurp? How much money do you need to make to justify the cost of enacting this complex policy at all? What if you don't make that money? Have you done a cost-bene-fit analysis?
Riders, perhaps we should take Mr. Yee's advice and descend en masse upon the next City Council meeting.
To: Councilman Cohn
From: Chip Powell
I would like to request that the city parking facilities office prove to the people of Sacramento that the new motorcycle parking policy is a sound one. What did the cost benefit analysis they performed on this issue find? Will the cost of pur-chasing the transient meters, installing them, the loss of auto spaces for such meters, the design, implementation, and enforcement of the new system even be met by the sale of monthly permits for motorcyclists?
How does the city know how many riders will even be interested in paying this $75.00 fee? What if no riders buy a permit, but simply find other places to stash their bikes? Then the city has wasted money and exacerbated the downtown parking situation by performing de facto evictions on commuters who are not using auto spaces. Did the city in fact perform a cost benefit analysis? What about the benefit to the congestion situation? What about the benefit to the air quality situation?
What was not working about the policy the city has had in place for the past four years? Why does it need to be changed? I have some other questions as well:
What if I have two bikes, can I park either of them in to the city lot?
What if there is not enough space for the permit holders, where do I park?
What if I'm a transient parker, but the transient meters are full?
What if I alternate between an auto and a motorcycle, can I get a combo pass?
What if I already have an auto pass, can I ride my motorcycle and park in the auto space for which I've already paid?
Offering free parking for motorcycles takes vision and commitment. It takes a commitment to the people of Sacramento to search for ways, however small they may seem, to ease the downtown parking crisis. It takes a commitment to the environment, by supporting commuting on vehicles that put even the most fuel efficient automobiles to shame; it takes a vision for finding solutions to the traffic congestion problem, by supporting use of vehicles which, by nature of their size, do not chronically congest; it takes commitment to helping ease the astronomical energy and fuel bills of your citizens, by supporting use of vehicles which use far less fuel.
Pragmatically, what is the city gaining by junking a good, sound, policy? What will the city lose if it keeps the status quo?
Councilman, I urge you to have the city's parking office defer their decision on motorcycle parking until the Council has a chance to discuss it among your-selves and the community.
Office of the Legislative Counsel
Dear Mr. Powell,
Thanks for your emails of February 20 and March 1. I will attempt to respond to a number of your main points. First, I do not represent Downtown. I represent District 3, which includes Midtown and East Sacramento. Downtown, including where all of the City parking garages are, is in District 1. Second, regarding park-ing rates for motorcycles, I have been quite sympathetic to the notion of pro-viding a substantial discount for motorcycles over car parking rates at City garages, even though many private garages do not provide such a discount. Nonetheless, keep in mind that parking structures are very expensive for the City. The 10th and I parking garage cost roughly $20,000 per parking space to build. We just got the news that the new parking garage at 14th and H will cost about the same (close to $20 million), although earlier projections had it bud-geted at a lower cost. Clearly these costs must be borne by users, not by the gen-eral fund taxpayers. There has been quite a debate at Council over parking poli-cy. We are trying to balance the needs of Downtown commuters, Central City residents, City environmental and land use policy, City economic development policy and so on. While I agree with you that motorcycles should pay less than cars to park in City garages, the exact amount is debatable. Keep in mind that Downtown parking in Sacramento is still relatively cheap compared to other large west coast cities, such as San Francisco, San Diego, San Jose, Los Angeles, Portland and Seattle. The City Council decided to leave the decision on precise parking rates up to its Parking staff within certain bounds dictated by the mar-ket. I understand that the staff's decision to provide a 40% discount to motor-cyclists over car rates is within those bounds, so unless the City Council decides to reconsider its earlier policy decision, the City staff's decision stands. I also understand that the City is working with the motorcycle community on provid-ing alternative parking spaces for day users that do not have monthly permits.
Finally, since some motorcyclists have brought up environmental issues in favor of subsidizing motorcycle parking rates, I must note that the ARB has done stud-ies showing that motorcycle air emissions are worse than new car emissions. Hopefully, we can work together to improve that situation.
To: Councilman Steve Cohn
From: Chip Powell
Subject: Motorcycle Parking in City Lots
I very much appreciate the reply you sent to me and other riders regarding the motorcycle parking issue. I suppose I have directed my e-mails to you because you are the councilman for the district in which I live, and because the council seat for District One is currently vacant.
I certainly appreciate that all parking structures, in fact all structures in general, are very expensive to build. Many of my questions about the motorcycle park-ing issue, however, have not been answered. Namely "what was wrong with the system the city has had in place the past four years?" which was that motorcy-cles did not take up any automobile spaces in the city lots, thus were not charged a fee.
Also, if I already have an automobile pass for a city lot, may I park my motorcy-cle in an automobile space? If I have two motorcycles, will I be given two stick-ers by the city? Automobile drivers may drive any car or truck they wish on a sin-gle permit, shouldn't motorcycle riders be able to? How many automobile spaces will the city lose in order to provide "day use" motorcycle parking spaces? Will the revenue and spaces lost be offset by the rev-enue gained by charging the motorcyclists? How many monthly motorcycle permits must the city sell to make this project worth their while? What if they don't sell that many?
I apologize for making claims about the environmental benefits of motorcycle riding which perhaps are not so; I am not an expert in this field. All I know is I have a 19 year old bike with a 750cc engine which gets about 35 mpg in the city. I'm putting far less gas per mile ridden into my motorcycle then either of my cars. Perhaps brand new fuel efficient automobiles do outperform some motor-cycles, but I still assert the overall congestion and air quality problems in the region stem from single-driver automobiles making long daily commutes.
Obviously parking is cheaper in Sacramento than many larger west coast cities. Homes are cheaper, rent is cheaper, commercial property is cheaper, and incomes are less. To me this doesn't justify charging a group of a few motorcy-clists a hefty monthly fee when for four years there has been no charge and there have been NO problems. We are not taking up your automobile spaces. Why is there a problem now? Why change something that works?
Again, I appreciate your attention to my e-mails. I believe the city, however, is going to open up a huge can of worms with this motorcycle parking issue where there was no problem previously. This seems counterproductive to good gov-ernment.
Dan Colson wrote:
Dear Councilmember Cohn,
While I was certainly disappointed with your reply, it is at least refreshing to get a straightforward answer. While many of us suspected that the real reason for the Parking Division's policy change was to raise revenue, no one else at the city has had the courage to come out and say so. In gauging the reaction of motorcyclist's to the "40% discount," please realize that straightforward information has been hard to come by from the beginning of this issue. The Parking Division started out with a ban on motorcycles because of "liability" issues related to parking arms. Then the reason changed to a problem with monitoring parking staff to prevent theft which the new equipment, to be installed in only two garages, could not do if motorcycles were allowed to enter. Finally, a "need" to impose a fee on all motorcycles in all city garages emerged. After allowing motor-cyclists to vent at two meetings, this fee was proposed at 75% of what cars pay, without any empirical basis for that ratio. Then, last week, a new fee of 60% was announced to begin April 1, 2001. Again, no basis for the amount was provid-ed. Finally, you have stated that it was set at what the market would bear (" with-in certain bounds dictated by the market"), to raise revenue to help offset the $20, 000 per space it cost the city to construct the parking garages.
While the desire to recoup parking structure costs from users is understandable, requiring a very small minority of commuters to bear a disproportionate share of those costs is indefensible. You emphasized the $20, 000 per space construction cost. Please realize that NONE of these spaces are occupied by motorcycles, nor will they be under the new policy. Motorcycles are parked in otherwise unusable space that cannot accommodate cars, and must vie to squeeze in with other motorcycles in undivided group areas. Also, as to the "study" cited as finding that motorcycles pollute more than new cars, I can only point out that it seems impossible that the average street motorcycle, at about 750cc (approximately 45 cubic inches), pollutes more than the average car with an engine at least 3-6 times that big, or the average SUV with a 350 -460 cubic inch engine. I note that the parking policy change contains no penalty for large vehicles with large engines. Further, your response makes no allowance for the much smaller phys-ical size of motorcycles, which certainly contributes to less congested roads and parking. While I appreciate your prompt and straightforward response, I must still request that the entire Council consider this issue as an agenda item. After all, it is the Council members to whom we have entrusted our faith by voting, not the unelected city staff. All constituents deserve the opportunity to be heard by their elected representatives.
Dan L. Colson
To: Jimmie Yee
From: John Blue
Subject: RE: FW: Decision on Motorcycle Permits
Dear Councilmember Yee:
Thank you for responding to my letter. I do wish to note that no one is yet addressing the fact that motorcycle parking does not take up auto parking spaces and that, in fact, every motorcycle parked in the lot frees up a space for an auto. At this time there are dozens of potential motorcycle parking spaces in the I and L street lots that are occupied with nothing but air.
Regarding the fact that motorcycles enjoy the benefits of security, lighting, etc: so do the bicyclists. Is the city going to charge them $75/ month?
With regard to the fact that SUVs and Hyundais pay the same: Hyundais still require a normal parking space. Motorcycles can park in corners, the edges of ramps, etc. If motorcycles are required to buy a monthly permit at $75/ month most of us will not use the lot. There is a breaking point where the hassle of rid-ing in the rain/ hauling extra clothing/ paying for two permits overtakes our enthu-siasm for riding.
With regard to the trouble with tracking card use vs. motorcycles: This is par-ticularly troubling as it was the issue of motorcycles (supposedly) tripping the sensors that brought up the idea of banning motorcycles. Later, it was stated that they had equipment to manage this but it will be expensive and now we're going to charge motorcycles. Now it comes that the city is just going to keep the status quo but they're going to charge us a high price to park in a few crummy spaces.
Finally, I respect the fact that the parking garage is not in your district. Does this mean that you are going to defer all the central city issues to the councilmem-ber of this (I believe currently unrepresented) district? I do live in your district and I would appreciate some engagement on this issue.
To: John Blue, Chip Powell
From: Darryl Petker,
John, nice message and I agree. I just spoke with Mr. Miller, of the Sac. City Parking Department. A few items of note. Street parking spaces can be occupied by more than one mc as long as the meter is paid for. According to Mr. Miller your parking pass can be used for motorcycle parking until signage is changed. However, they are in the works for putting up signage that will state that mc may park only in designated stalls.
A few interesting points came from the discussion. One is that I do believe that they have given this some thought and have decided to charge what the market will bear. Next point is that the spots that are going to be used for future mc parking will be those spots that are in the nooks of the parking lot not current-ly used by autos. So there will not be a net loss of car parking just an increase in vehicles charged for parking.
I believe that he and the parking department believes that they can and should charge what the market will bear. Therefore I feel that the best course of action is with the elected officials and newspapers.
So let me conclude by redirecting you to John Blue's message about providing good solid reasons in a professional manner when addressing this problem.
To: Chip Powell
From: John Blue
Dear Fellow Motorcycle Enthusiasts:
I have been very impressed with the level of interest in this issue and still hold out hope that it will be resolved in a fair and reasonable manner. I have, how-ever, been a little alarmed at the rather acidic and confrontational messages that have been sent out to the city staff and council members. While I believe per-sistence is our best weapon, as a long-time public servant I have come to know that abrasiveness will not get us very far. Every abusive or ridiculing note we send to a city council member just reinforces the impression of us as a group of ninnies and hot-heads. I am certain by this time, city parking staff is eager to marginalize us and paint us as extremists. Each letter filled with flaming rhetoric only makes this easier for them to do.
What I ask of you is this: After putting your thoughts into an e-mail, please wait 10 minutes or so before hitting the "send" button. Even better, ask someone else to read it before you send it. Ask yourself, will this letter make the City Council more likely to listen to us or less likely to listen to us?Finally, I would also strongly suggest we do not accept Mr. Yee's suggestion we come to the open discussion part of the meeting to state our case. This is the part of the meeting reserved for the cranks and crackpots that no one cares about. No one will be engaged. I rather suggest we continue to make ourselves difficult to ignore until they put us on the agenda. Thanks for your continued support.
To: Steve Magee
From: Chip Powell
Subject: RE: FW: Attention from City Councilor Steve Cohn
I would like to be heard by the city council on this issue, but even with that, I don't see much hope at this point. I'm ready to make other arrangements for my bike as well. Here are some thoughts though:
The fewer riders who buy these permits, the more the city's new policy fails. Continue to bug your city councilperson to put this issue on the council's agen-da. (By the way, there is NO councilmember for the downtown district (1) right now. They are in the process of getting candidates together and are preparing to have an election this year. Looks like when the cat's away....)
For those who must buy these permits: Insist on ample space. Take up as much space in the "designated m/ c areas" as you feel you need. Take an automobile space if need be (and be willing to fight the ticket, if you get one). Ask for reim-bursements for the number of days it rains in a month. Pay for the permits in person with coins.
Again, though, this seems an outrageous sum of money for something that has been free for four years. I will not be paying it, but will be parking elsewhere. I encourage other riders to be creative and find other places topark.
To: Dan Colson
From: Lauren Hammond
Subject: Re: FW: Attention from CityCouncilor Steve Cohn
Hi, I'm sorry I couldn't reply sooner. I have another job and I'm not here at City Hall everyday. I have read your email and the attachments. Yes, the fee as set appears arbitrary. 75% seems a little high but 20% is too low. I appreciate your viewpoint that motorcycles create less pollution than autos but all fossil fuel engines cre-ate some mobile source emissions. So the standard of physical space in a lot as a measure of parking fees may not work. For the next two years I am the Chair of the Sacramento Metropolitan Air Quality Board. I will consider the many viewpoints on parking lots and autos vs. cycles. Each parking lot user should be treated fairly and equally. Bicycle advocates have been pressing the city for more amenities for alternative transportation users. They have rights as well. I will ask Mark Miller what factors are used to determine the fee structure of our parking lots.
Thank you for writing.
Lauren R. Hammond
Councilmember, District Five
To: Lauren Hammond
From: Dan Colson
Dear Councilmember Hammond:
I previously wrote to you concerning the motorcycle parking issue. You were kind enough to respond and indicated that, although downtown is not your dis-trict, you would speak to Mark Miller of the Parking Division about fair treatment for all residents and not setting an arbitrary amount for motorcycle parking. Also, although you did not agree that 20% of the car fee, as I and others have pro-posed based upon parking footage, you also opined that 75% seemed too high. The Parking Division has now announced a new policy, which it proposes to implement April 1, 2001, imposing a 60% fee, which currently computes to $75 per month. What was not announced was any rational basis, nor any basis whatsoever, for the fee amount. Your response to my prior communication stat-ed that while square footage alone may not be the best way to set the fee, what-ever fee is set should be fair to all and not arbitrary. With all due respect, I believe that square footage used in a parking garage is probably the only fair way to set a fee. After all, the size of the building necessary to house the vehicles dictates the cost to build/ lease, maintain, and staff the building. The only other relevant considerations may be policies to encourage or discourage certain types of transportation on the basis of their perceived contribution to reducing conges-tion and/ or air pollution. Certainly, this is the basis for the guarantee of bicycle parking lockers in the city garage at 10th and I streets. If this same criteria is applied to motorcycles, the preference should be towards encouraging, rather than discouraging, their use through free or reduced fee parking so that those riders will not bring cars to the inner city to get to and from work. It should be noted that, both currently and under the "new policy," motorcycle parking is restricted to unused nooks and crannies, such as the slopped areas along ramps, that are not useable as car spaces. Thus, motorcycle parking uses no "real," oth-erwise marketable, square footage in the garage. In reality, the Parking Division's "new policy" is simply an attempt to squeeze as much revenue as possible from motorcycle riders, without regard to fairness, or the impact on air quality, or roadway and parking congestion. Please use your authority, as my elected repre-sentative, to ensure that a fair resolution of this matter is achieved. The good reputation of the city government has already been tarnished by the changing rationales and positions of the Parking Division, and should not be further dam-aged by imposition of a punitive parking fee that bears no relation to reality. At the very least, I ask that you intervene to forestall the announced April 1, 2001 implementation date, and that the matter be placed on the agenda of the City Council so that all parties can be assured of a fair consideration of their views and concerns. Thank you, in advance, for whatever assistance you may be able to provide.
Dan L. Colson
To: Council Member Steve Cohn
From: Peter Jacobsen
Subject: City Staff's View of Parking
CC: citybike@ best. com, agoldfine_ rtw@ ridetowork. org,
The City's effort is really about paying for the parking garages. The City staff says the garages are "enterprises." If the parking garages were money-making opera-tions, private businesses would construct them. But they don't. So the City builds them, or requires developers to build them. They are expensive to build and operate. The new City garage will cost $22 million for 1000 spaces. That's $22,000 per parking space (excluding land cost and foregone property taxes). Plus operation costs of about $1000 per space.
Let's see how the City will pay for the garages... For capital recovery, the rule of thumb is 1% per month, or $230 per space. But the garages are not full. My office overlooks the 11 & L garage --the top level is rarely used. Assuming a 75% occupancy, the City must collect $300 per space. But they don't. They charge $140 per monthly space. In other words, the City subsidizes motorists who park downtown $160 per month.
Remember, these garages are blights --they are butt ugly, and hotspots for crime. Not only that, they are a wasted opportunity. The garage at 11& L has the best view of the Capitol. Prime real estate wasted.
To: Chip Powell
From: Jason Scott
Cc: Jimmie Yee; Mark Miller; Steve Cohn
Subject: Some answers to your motorcycle questions
Councilmember Cohn asked me to answer some of your questions regarding motorcycle parking.
What was wrong with the motorcycle parking system in place?
-The system in place allowed specific users of City parking facilities -motorcy-clists -to receive a service without paying an equitable share of the costs asso-ciated with providing that service. No matter how you configure parking spaces in a garage, there are costs associated with lighting, maintenance, insurance, and staffing to which all users should contribute. The other problem with the old system, accurate counts of vehicles entering garages, has been resolved as we discussed at our meeting in January.
If I already have an automobile pass for a city lot, may I park in an auto space?
-Motorcycles will only be allowed to park in areas designated as motorcycle park-ing and will need to purchase a motorcycle parking permit even if they have a separate auto permit.
To allow for the tracking and collection of fees for both motorcycles and autos in the same parking garage, the Parking Division was forced to design two dif-ferent revenue control systems. Passenger vehicles and light trucks can safely enter through our gate systems. Motorcycles can safely access garages only by circumventing gates, however, and thus our only means of tracking motorcycles is with a visible permit. Unfortunately for those who own both a car and a motorcycle, these two systems are not compatible.
If both motorcycle permits and automobile permits were issued to the same indi-vidual, there is no way for parking staff to know whether both permits are used concurrently. The City can't issue a free motorcycle pass to persons holding a regular monthly automobile permit because that person could pass the motor-cycle permit on to friends or co-workers. With no mechanism to prevent this, such abuses could go undetected for months. Unfortunately, therefore, to obtain a permit for a car and a permit for a motorcycle, you must purchase both per-mits.
If I have two motorcycles will I be given two motorcycle permits?
-Motorcyclists will be allowed to either place their sticker permit directly on their bike, or to place their sticker permit on some sort of detachable tag Parking will provide and that could be removed from one bike and placed on another.
How many auto spaces will the City lose in providing motorcycle park-ing? -The City will provide all motorcycle spaces within garages from areas where no cars are currently allowed to park.
What is planned for "day use" motorcycle parking?
-At the 10th and I garage meters will be installed just outside the 10th St. entrance gates for motorcycle parking. Off-street parking is working with on-street parking to locate meters on the street nearby to the 10th and L garage.
How many monthly permits must the City sell to make this project worthwhile?
-Equitable parking rates and access for all users is the goal of allowing continued motorcycle access for a fee. With a noticeable increase in motorcycle parking in our garages since gates were shortened, the installation of meters is a much more cost-effective proposition than it was just a few years back.
Parking Facilities Division
City of Sacramento
To: Chip Powell
From: Raffy Kouyoumdjian
Basically, it boils down to a revenue issue. Notice where Jason says that the motorcycles will be allowed to park in "... from areas where no cars are current-ly allowed to park". So, they figured out a way to make more money without any additional cost to them. The fact that Meters cost money is irrelevant... Meter costs are recouped by the amount of money they generate albeit over a long period of time.
Raffy (italics ours-Ed.)