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90-Minute Free Street Parking Survives as Santa Monica City Council Considers Raising Parking Fees


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By Niki Cervantes
Staff Writer

April 20, 2018 – After community push back, parking in City-owned Parking Structures in Santa Monica remains free for the first 90 minutes, although long-term parking in crowded downtown City parking structures zooms as much as 70 percent in a Citywide fee adjustment meant, ultimately, to discourage cars and more congestion.

The newest version of a new parking rate schedule for City streets and City-owned parking structures goes to the City Council for a vote at Tuesday’s regular meeting.

If adopted, parking in downtown “meter zone” and at the beach zone will be $2 per house.

Citywide, all other on-street parking will be $1 per hour.

But the new rates keep the first 90 minutes of free parking in the City’s Parking Structure 1 through 9 and at the Ken Edwards Center.

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At the same time, the new plan raises rates at most of the parking structures, including Parking Structures 1 and 3 near the Promenade, where costs for day-long parking on weekends jump from the current $17.50 to $30, a report for council says.

On week days, the multi-hour cost rises from $17.50 now to $25.
New rates would go into effect July 1.

City revenue from parking has slipped in recent years, a development City officials say is linked to its focus on clearing its car-congested streets, especially downtown, and encouraging use of alternative modes of getting around, like bicycling, walking and buses ("Santa Monica Officials Explore Ways to Get People Downtown Without Cars," March 15, 2018).

Planning officials are trying to manage crowding in its parking structures downtown by adjusting rates, according to a report by David Martin, the head of Planning and Community Development.

The proposed rates encourage “parkers to shift to less expensive facilities without oversaturating any given facility due to significant rate differential between structures,” Martin wrote.

Other changes in the proposed plan include eliminating monthly parking in Parking Structures 1 and 3, and providing alternative parking options, if necessary, in Structures 9 and 10, based on availability.

The plan also continues subsidizing parking for the Ken Edwards Center and Santa Monica Emeritus College program users and creates new subsidized parking options for those involved in programs at the Main Library downtown.

In addition, the proposal extends the bulk parking fee for the California Judicial Council for twelve months from July 2018 to June 2019.

The County Courthouse downtown relies heavily on nearby City parking.

Martin said progress has been made in “promoting alternative options for its employees, customers, and jurors,” but the Judicial Council needs more time.

The report said staff will also develop a comprehensive, long-term parking plan.

Specifically, the report said staff will consider a downtown access parking program for residents, a merchant validation program and the “feasibility of pursuing a universal valet parking program.”

The City owns and/or operates 43 parking structures and lots with about 14,000 parking spots.


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