A big change in Santa Monica's parking rates takes affect Monday, with the daily maximum ballooning from $9 to $14 in downtown garages.
The cost to park at downtown meters also goes up to double the current price, now $2 per hour. All other meters in the city will cost $1 per hour, up from 75 cents.
While the rates were hiked in most downtown areas, they were lowered in other, lesser-used garages, such as the ones at the Main Library on Fifth Street and the Civic Center on Fourth Street. The hope is downtown visitors will be enticed to trek a few more blocks to decongest the typically-jammed garages.
(Scroll to the bottom of this article to view a chart of the old and new rates across the city.)
"This should better distribute parking and minimize delays caused by people searching for parking," Don Patterson, the city's assistant finance director, said when the rates were approved by the Santa Monica City Council in July. "We should see more spaces turn over more regularly."
It's estimated the city will rake in an additional $3.5 million in revenue yearly after the new rates take effect in October.
It's the first change in meter rates since 2003.
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In proposing the new rates, staffers drew on a new report from Walker Parking Consultants that assessed rates at private parking lots and in comparable cities. They also sought input from neighborhood groups and business associations.
Merchants on Main Street, which is lined with small, independently run boutiques and mom and pop shops, objected to the meter rate hikes.
"There are many small businesses that are just hanging on," said Laura Owen, who owns Gioia. "I'm not interested in seeing it even hard for my customers to park."
She and several others also told the City Council in July that it was unfair shoppers could park for free for any amount of time in downtown garages, while those visiting Main Street have to pay.
Until Monday, it was free to park in downtown garages for two hours. Main Street lots cost $1 per hour with a 3-hour maximum. The City Council shaved 30 minutes off the length of time cars may park at no cost in the downtown structures, and lifted the maximum from the Main Street lots.
Going forward, city staffers said they will rely on new parking meter technology to adjust rates based on demand. The city is installing high-tech sensors to every meter in Santa Monica that will report real-time, daily, and monthly parking space usage, including the average length of stay.
* for a full list, click on the pdf to the right of this article
First 2 hours Free
First 90 minutes Free Each additional 30 minutes $1
Next 1 hour $1 Daytime maximum $9
Every hour thereafter $3 After 6 p.m. $5
24 hour maximum $14 24 hour maximum $14
MAIN LIBRARY/CIVIC CENTER
Each 30 minutes $.50
First 30 minutes Free Daytime maximum $10
Each additional hour $1
Daytime maximum $5 CIVIC CENTER
Each 20 minutes $1.50
Daytime maximum $10
After 6 p.m., weekends $3
MAIN STREET LOTS
3 hour maximum $1/hour
No maximum $1/hour