The Proposal

Aerial view of the location of the proposed project

In 2011, the City of Davis considered a plan to build a five-story parking structure on the footprint of the existing city-owned parking lot within the block of 3rd, 4th, E and F Streets (see photo at right). The proposal included about 350 parking spaces, which would replace all 113 existing spaces at ground level. It also included retail space fronting E and F Streets. Thus, the parking areas would not abut the street at ground level. The plan appears unlikely to move forward, although it has not been eliminated as a future option.

The facility would cost around $15 million, about 80% of this needed to build the parking garage. This works out to about $50,000 per new parking space. $15 million is more than half of the available funds for the city's list of redevelopment projects.

It would be funded by redevelopment bonds. The project had been planned for many years until the Spring of 2011 when it was fast tracked to move forward after the state threatened to abolish redevelopment agencies and rescind funding that the city had been counting on for this and many other redevelopment projects.

On Oct. 4, 2011, the City Council voted to take steps to more effectively manage downtown parking and utilization of existing off-street parking lots and structures. They voted to postpone consideration of the 3/4/E/F project. It may be considered again after one year, in the event that studies identify a true need for a large new parking facility even with effective utilization of existing parking lots. Other sites on the periphery of the downtown core would be considered also. (see Council Will Study Parking, Tackle Low-Hanging Fruit, Before Proceeding with Huge Parking Project). Some believe that this City Council action represents the death of the proposal.

Existing City-owned Lot Another View of the Existing City-owned Lot Existing lot and Blue Sky viewed from FedEx Kinko's

Proponents claim

  • Location is key to provide parking where it's most convenient: close to downtown businesses to attract more customers.
  • Providing more off-street parking spaces right in the center of downtown will mean fewer cars on the streets, while making streets more people oriented with amenities like sidewalk seating and more bike parking in front of shops.
  • Developers willing to build retail and other projects to keep downtown thriving will be unwilling to provide the necessary capital without well-located parking facilities.
  • This is a well-developed plan that the city has been pursuing for years. It is ready to go, with funding in place.
  • The plan was developed in response to repeated requests from businesses inside the redevelopment area, who report that their customers consistently tell them that insufficient "convenient" parking limits their patronage of said businesses.
  • The city intends to design a facility that is much more attractive with more light inside, compared to the other two multilevel parking structures nearby. Likely amenities will include large amounts of bike parking. A new, more spacious location for Bike Forth has been mentioned as a possibility.

Opponents claim

  • More parking spaces means more cars driving to downtown, which would discourage bicycling and walking rather than encourage these more healthy transportation modes.
  • This expenditure to provide for the automobile is contrary to goals of the city to increase bicycle mode share, and the city's own Climate Action Plan.
  • Five months of surveys by Davis Bicycles! have determined that there are about as many empty parking spaces in the two existing multistory lots as would be added by the new project. Surveys included the busiest times of the day and evening.
  • No proper parking needs assessment was conducted prior to moving the 3/4/E/F project forward for City Council approval in July 2011. The rush to approve the project was driven by fear of the loss of redevelopment funds.
  • Closer to 1st Street near the freeway may be a more desirable location for visitors to park. Other locations on the edge of downtown may be more suitable locations for more parking. How do we know? Studies have been inadequate to properly make this decision.
  • Effective parking management would encourage downtown employees to use the existing empty spaces in the two structures, thus freeing on-street parking spaces for shoppers and visitors; a new structure may be unnecessary.
  • A proper needs assessment and effective parking management need time to work, and the community needs time to consider a capital project as big as this parking structure which would have big impacts on the look and feel of the downtown.
  • Other worthy projects on the city’s long term redevelopment list have not received the same consideration as this project. The whole community needs to be more engaged in setting priorities for spending the city's redevelopment funds.

Recent Developments

On Tuesday, August 23, 2011, the Technical Advisory Group (TAG) for the Transportation Implementation Plan (a temporary committee of stakeholders and experts on city transportation issues), meeting in the City Council Chambers, considered the Downtown Parking and Access Plan. The latter plan was initiated by Mayor Krovoza at the July 19 City Council meeting. The TAG voted to put forward to the City Council a recommendation that further consideration of the parking structure project be postponed until downtown parking needs were studied to determine whether such a facility was necessary at all, or whether a more effective parking management scheme could better address issues of parking scarcity.

The Davis Downtown Business Association also held a brown-bag lunch workshop on Wednesday, August 24, 2011.

On Tuesday, July 19, 2011, the Davis City Council voted 3-2 to move forward with preliminary design work on the project, by approving an Exclusive Negotiating Agreement with Yackzan Group, and a sole-source contract with Watry Design for Phase 1 concept/schematic scoping architecture for the project.

Voting Yes were Souza, Swanson and Wolk; Voting No were Greenwald and Krovoza. Only one person during public comment spoke in support of the project. Of particular concern (mentioned by Mayor Krovoza prior to the 3-2 vote) is that no effective parking management plan currently exists to ensure that existing or future multistory car lots are well utilized. Sue Greenwald was concerned that such a highrise structure would be out of place and could wreck the ambiance of the downtown core. Dan Wolk said that he was not necessarily in favor of building the facility, but he did not feel that it was prudent to terminate the project at this juncture.

News articles about this issue:

Related article about redevelopment agencies and the insatiable desire for more car parking in California cities:

Petition Drive, Facebook


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2011-08-09 12:47:58   Even on busy nights I can still find parking downtown. Sure, I might waste a few ounces of gasoline driving around looking for one or going into the Amtrak station, but it's not that huge of a deal. Seriously, if I can find parking spots at the park during the Farmer's Market, I think we're good. —hankim

2011-08-09 12:53:42   This thing sounds like it will be a major monstrosity/eyesore, and it's hard to see how that could be good for downtown. I too have always been able to find parking when I needed it. If there is anything that keeps me from driving downtown to shop, it's the traffic and all of the stop signs. A new parking structure won't improve that; in fact, it will make it worse if it encourages more people to drive downtown. But I doubt it will do that, since again, I don't really think that a new lot is needed. —CovertProfessor

2011-08-09 12:57:14   Parking downtown is a pain in the ass. During the summer it's manageable; if you go during lunch or dinner time while school's in, though, it's not uncommon to spend 5-10 minutes wandering through downtown waiting for someone to pull out. If your destination is out on F or G Streets, you've got some options; if you're farther west, though, absent a fair amount of luck with someone pulling out right in front of you, you're probably going to be parking four or five blocks from your destination.

It's also worth noting that parking spaces in the movie theater parking lots are so narrow that they're very frequently impossible to park in. I've had any number of times when I've gone looking for a space only to find a few cars parked at a little bit of an angle and blocking off an additional 5-6 spaces. Not "that's a little cozy, I'll look for something more convenient" blocked; more like "my car, which is fairly narrow, might not physically fit in that space, much less let doors open on either side for anyone to get out" blocked.

I'm definitely in favor of some sort of parking improvement. I don't know enough about this particular option yet to lean one way or the other on the high rise.

I would also love to see more downtown businesses get space for sidewalk seating. Sadly, a lot of areas are too narrow to be all that great (e.g. Thai Canteen, Beach Hut), but something is better than nothing. —TomGarberson

2011-08-09 13:49:27   I agree that even though it may take a while, I've never found parking to be a problem. 'Course that could be because I don't own a car and use my bike >_<. Okay Okay but when I'm downtown with friends and family, even on busy nights, we find a spot. Seems like a waste of tax dollars during an economic freefall to me and that's what concerns me far more than aesthetics. Why spend the money if we don't have to? Let's focus more on the slow but steady departure of businesses downtown leaving locations empty.

Please for the love of god, someone tell me what is going to replace Borders?! A lot that large and empty would be depressing to see. —OliviaY

2011-08-09 14:20:00   I could be wrong, but isn't 5 stories overkill? Perhaps a 2 story structure that would (roughly) double the amount of available spaces, and yet note obscure or detract from the surrounding areas. Just a thought. —OldDavis73

2011-08-09 15:08:19   Does this mean they will (or already have) eliminate the height restrictions on new buildings? Or will one or more stories be underground if it is a five story structure? Seems it only matters during the daytime and, as has been proven with the pay lot, will remain primarily empty... If it is a free lot, the prior statements made by myself will most likely be proven false but will also be a marked waste of funds which will never be recovered by the city, but if it is a pay lot, it will still be a waste of money as the majority of spaces will remain empty and it will take decades to attempt to recover the funds. —Wes-P

"201108-10 It seems that lately the City of Davis is making long term development plans (this parking lot and the purchase of Chiles Road Restaurant site) based on the fact that the State/Federal funds are available if we use them now and may not be available next year. This is no way to run a City. Make your long term plans based on what is best for your citizens, not because someone is holding out a handful of "redevelopment money", but only if you fast-track the projects and use it today. This parking structure looks like a solution in search of a problem. It shouldn't suddenly be a better idea because there is free money involved. Take your time and do a good job, it's going to be sitting in the center of downtown for a long, long time. - -Calzephyr

2011-08-12 17:30:51   I can't believe that a FIVE-STORY structure and $15,000,000.00 is a logical "fit" for downtown Davis. The first thing to be fixed should be Fifth Street, so that pedestrians from the Old Davis neighborhood can safely cross this busy, fast-moving speedway. It's estimated that only $50,000 is needed to make Fifth Street "pedestrian-friendly." This means people with kids, strollers, grandparents and city visitors will be able to safely cross at "C," "D," and "E" streets without risking their lives. PLEASE consider how much money the proposed parking garage/eyesore will cost. That money could be so useful in other ways. Plus, who really feels safe in parking garages? I don't and I'm a well-built, 50 year-old male who knows the street. Parking garages are a hassle to get in, park in narrow slots, walk out to errands,then find your car again and exit without hitting a post, car or getting honked at by other users. They smell, they attract unsavory types and are a haven for recreational thrill-seekers on many types of wheels. Visit YouTube to see garage thrill-seekers in action.

The additional thing is the sheer size of this structure. It's unreal to consider spending $50,000/per space no matter what that does to alleviate parking or promote business. Put in a nice bike rental kiosk and let people rent bikes which can be reduced for by retailers validating their tickets when purchases are made resulting in a zero expenditure. It's not rocket science people. They do this in Amsterdam after which Davis proudly says its transportation concept is based. PLEASE SPEAK UP AGAINST THIS COSTLY AND NEEDLESS PROJECT. REJECT IT PERMANENTLY. —fknochenhauer

2011-08-29 12:35:24   The area that this parking structure would take up is a parking lot that I park in frequently. It's my go-to spot for downtown parking, and it's a reasonable walk to anywhere downtown. I have no problem finding a spot there 95% of the time as it is, so I don't really see a need for a FIVE story structure. And I can't imagine that the kinkos-fedex would be thrilled to be essentially cut off from all sunlight if this thing goes up. I agree with most other people in saying that the money could definitely go elsewhere. —AndrewWalker

2011-09-12 10:56:21   Hooray, the Enterprise just published an opposition Editorial piece "Parking Garage Doesn't Fit Davis" (9/12/2011) to the proposed FIVE-STORY PARKING STRUCTURE:

Here's some germane excerpts: "...There isn’t anything aesthetically pleasing about slabs of concrete filled with parked cars and piled on top of each other. Take a piece of paper and list the top five aesthetically pleasing parking garages that you remember. How about the top three? Have you ever seen an aesthetically pleasing five-story parking garage? Our city has an identity and character that distinguishes it from other communities. We believe in open space, lines of sight, bicycles and low carbon footprints. It would be hard to think of a project more incompatible with our community’s ideals than a parking garage as tall as King Kong in the center of our downtown.

Why would anyone believe that the signature structure of our community should be a giant car magnet? The proponents of this proposal talk about creating thousands of square feet of new retail space in Davis. What they don’t talk about is the unfilled retail space in Davis now (the empty Borders and Blockbuster stores, for example). Nor do they mention the damage that will be done to existing businesses immediately adjacent to the towering walls of this project. Let’s face it. If there is a parking problem in Davis, this is the wrong way to fix it. This garage will displace street-level parking places, which most people prefer, with parking garage spaces that most people use as a last resort...."

Keep commenting, writing to the Enterprise, the City Council, SPAC, Davis Downtown Business Association and all others to REJECT this concept. —fknochenhauer

2011-09-13 07:24:41   There are other ways to spend $15million. Spend a little more time and be a little more creative people. —heyitsdimo

2011-09-13 08:03:53   With the students arriving back, parking has gotten really bad again. A typical evening visit downtown involves circling half a dozen blocks looking for a parking space. It's at best a 50-50 proposition whether you'll be successful, or whether you'll have to give up and head to the amtrak lot or one of the two theater structures. Of course, in the F Street one, you stand a very good chance of seeing every other spot taken by larger vehicles that don't leave room for anything but a motorcycle or a Smart car between them. The G Street one is a bit better, but it's also much farther out of the way.

The parking situation downtown sucks. It needs to be addressed. I'm not sure this structure is the right solution to the problem, but some kind of solution is needed. —TomGarberson

2011-09-17 18:36:16   Wow, there's a lot of misinformation here. It's a FOUR-STORY structure, not a FIVE-STORY structure. Maybe we should underline and capitalize to make it more dramatic. We already have Downtown structures of similar height. A UCD study completed last year found that only 14% of Davis residents arrive Downtown by bicycle. The Downtown bicycle racks are half empty 90% of the time. How do you know it'll be a monstrosity/eyesore unless you allow the preliminary design work to go forward? If the structure is reduced to 2 stories, you'd actually lose parking spaces because of the retail ground floor. This project is not the result of suddenly free money. It's been discussed for 15 or 20 years and has been a top City priority since 2004 at least. The Fifth Street Road Diet project is in excess of $850,000, not $50,000. Hooray, the Enterprise opposition piece "Parking Garage Doesn't Fit Davis" was co-authored by the adjacent property owner without proper attribution (fair and balanced ala Fox News). The excerpts provided further below have already been debunked by Rich Rifkin on the Vanguard. Is this what passes for an informative debate around here? —MichaelBisch

  • I wrote above: "The first thing to be fixed should be Fifth Street, so that pedestrians from the Old Davis neighborhood can safely cross this busy, fast-moving speedway. It's estimated that only $50,000 is needed to make Fifth Street "pedestrian-friendly." This means people with kids, strollers, grandparents and city visitors will be able to safely cross at "C," "D," and "E" streets without risking their lives." fknochenhauer [see below]
  • This exact figure is from a City of Davis Public Works staff estimate of making 5th St. "pedestrian-friendly" with additional paint, cross-walks, signage and traffic-calming measures from the train tracks to "B" St. It has nothing to do with the proposed "5th St. Road Diet / Re-design" which Michael Bisch is suggesting. I would think that the co-president of the Downtown Davis Business Association would want more and safer access to the downtown area from the Old North Davis Neighborhood. But, perhaps, I'm wrong. Let's stay factual and not include irrelevant arguments into why the parking structure will inhibit rather than promote non-motorized access to our thriving downtown businesses. We want to visit downtown more often, by foot, on bike and by other means whenever possible. However, 5th St. is a dangerous expressway, presently designed to speed motorists past downtown, to and from other sectors of our city and outlying freeways. Crossing at an intersection lacking a light or crosswalk is a death-defying experience. I know this because I reluctantly do it every time I shop downtown -fknochenhauer

2011-09-17 18:56:25   The total cost of this ill-conceived and massive parking structure is now projected at over $28 million, including the interest associated with the city bond already floated earlier this year. The $13+ million bond is presently costing the City of Davis over $92,000 per MONTH (that's $92K/mo) in accrued interest! No typos there. Those are the FACTS. Since the city is accruing such fees, of course every stakeholder is in a hurry to create design specifications and a proposal on what associated impact the parking structure will have on this, otherwise, very nice parking lot. The "idea" of a parking structure is costing big money already.

At present, there has been no inclusion of additional costs of automated SMART METER parking hardware employed as other cities use. These are the machines one uses to "buy" parking time per space on each level. The estimated cost is the CONSTRUCTION cost(s) and does not include additional personnel management, cleaning, annual maintenance, crime prevention and automation costs. Plus, having worked in a parking garage at San Jose State University, I know full-well how thrill-seekers, vandals, transients and do-nothings frequent a garage to victimize its patrons. Need I mention the suicides, too? A parking garage is a CRIME MAGNET in any city. Who wants this in Davis when we have better, low-cost, transit alternatives? —fknochenhauer

  • I haven't researched this thoroughly, but I don't believe there is any evidence suggesting that the existing parking structures in Downtown Davis are crime magnets. I used to read the police reports every day for a year and I rarely saw any incidents at the addresses for the parking structures downtown. I don't see any reason to believe this parking structure would somehow be more crime-prone than our existing structures. —jsogul
    • Ask some women how they feel about parking structures at night when they are alone, as compared to surface lots, and report back. I think you'll find that they are not too enthused about parking structures, whether their feeling of unsafety is a false perception or not. I don't think anyone is saying that this structure would be worse than the others, but rather that we don't need another parking structure in town. —CovertProfessor
      • I think we can agree that a lack of crime does not necessarily inspire feelings of comfort or safety. But if you are seriously worried about crime magnets, like fknochenhauer seems to be, you should probably be protesting bars and other establishments that sell alcohol, not parking structures.—jsogul
        • Bars are more easily avoided than parking lots. But back to the point — the fact remains that it would be easier to get away with mugging someone in a closed parking structure than in an open parking lot. The fear is not irrational. —CovertProfessor
        • I'll chime in here and say I am one of those women who hates parking garages. I thought it would be different in Davis, but I have been leered at and even followed, and this is during the day, not even at night. Additionally, parking structures ARE a crime magnet where I went to undergrad so I would not be so quick to dismiss that possibility. —MeggoWaffle

2011-09-17 21:20:09   The projected cost of this humongous monstrosity is $28,000,000, wait no, make that $56,000,000, let's call it an even $100,000,000. And it's a CRIME MAGNET!!! Don't you think your comments are a bit strident and over the top? You'd think the City Council was proposing to build a nuclear waste repository in the heart of Downtown. —MichaelBisch

  • All information on the wiki is provided by people like you. If you have information and you're not sharing, there's little anybody can do. Please hit "Edit" and correct anything you notice wrong, here or elsewhere on the wiki. Otherwise, you're contributing to the very problem you are complaining about. This is not a blog, so do not feel your only right is to make commentary. The content on this wiki is quite literally and legally yours, Michael. Of course, it also belongs to other people as well, so please be respectful of others and work out disputes between individuals, but you are empowered here (and encouraged!) to make changes. It is up to you if you do so. —Evan 'JabberWokky' Edwards,
  • Personally and, especially, professionally, I would think that someone (meaning Michael) who might be viewed as an ambassador for the Downtown Davis Business Association as its co-president and is a Davis REALTOR interested in building alliances with locals, would endeavor to couch his comments so that they are factual and not totally sarcastic as we see above. It's demeaning to the individual (meaning, you, Michael) and the DDBA when you ignore the obvious facts that are part of the public record (well documented at plus council member Greenwald commented the following: ..."is why I said at the meeting that I thought it fairer to everyone to pull the plug now. I said that I didn't think the project has sufficient public support, and that I thought a 5 story parking garage smack in the middle of town would be ugly..." Now, where is a four-story garage discussed? Let's talk facts, not fiction mixed with tired sarcasm. - fknochenhauer (I love bold in the right place, don't you?)

2011-09-18 16:06:18   If it's not 50' or five-stories, then, I must somehow be confused by the first line at the top of this topic page: "The City of Davis is proposing to build a five-story parking structure on the footprint of the existing city-owned parking lot..." I'll soon be posting some pictures of this pleasant, tree-shaded parking lot and the blue sky above it. What's not to like about it? It has easy access. You see friends across the lot. You easily go from businesses to your car, drop things off, and continue your shopping. You can easily find your car in the shade when you return and depart with ease. You can smell the trees and see the sky. You feel safe. A nice customer experience in downtown Davis. Why change it? —fknochenhauer

2011-09-20 23:04:22   I don't see how adding more parking downtown is going to help the traffic situation, which to me is downtown's real problem. —jsogul

  • Employees account for much of the downtown parking scarcity. Anyone who's worked or has spent a regular amount of time in the downtown core can attest that "I gotta go move my car" is a statement you hear quite often. Having more long term parking (X-Permit/D-Permit) available to retailers and their employees would not only free up on-street spaces for customers and visitors, it would reduce the amount of cars circling around trying to find another space, bringing the traffic relief you seek. The circling phenomenon was especially bad during the era of block-face parking enforcement, when people could not repark their cars on the same block. As a Downtown Davis business owner, I would greatly welcome a parking structure with free 3 hr parking with a couple of floors dedicated to X/D permits and see on-street parking changed to 60-90 min limits (which is the direction The City is going anyway) to encourage use of parking structures for long term visitors. —KevinWan

2011-10-02 21:36:25   My family recently moved to Davis because of it being a very bike friendly town. I find the fact there is even a debate about this very depressing. On the one hand, Davis is considering spending money to fix the mistake of making 5th St. too car-centric, and on the other hand is thinking about building a big parking garage? —DanielAmoni

2011-10-10 22:31:39   I can't wait for them to build this. I'm throwing my (in future tense) xb0x360 off the top. With any luck it will roll over to the computer repair place. —shraken

2011-10-18 02:00:16   I've personally always thought that they should convert the empty lot on G and Sweet Briar into a parking structure, possibly with some small shops on the bottom. Another idea: add some solar panels to the tops of some of the parking structures we have, use them to power an electric shuttle trolley that runs from the parking structures to downtown. Net benefit of getting people to park outside the core area while still providing convenience. Alternately, what about that empty lot on Olive Drive across from Redrum? Right next to Downtown, but it's an area where a parking building would not be an eyesore Finally, we've seen that parking meters CAN work in Davis. I say we put meters in the lots, but NOT the parking structures. This will encourage folks (especially Downtown employees - you know who you are) to actually use the parking we have, rather than running out every two hours to move their cars. —Flynn

2011-10-18 12:51:02   I have ALWAYS found parking, day and night, summer or winter, within a block (often closer) of where I want to go downtown. I appreciate all the trees in the present parking lot, especially at night when the lights are turned on. I feel safe at night parking there right next to Kinkos/FedEx. I would NOT use a parking garage. Why go for this outdated model of car-centric development, especially when there are empty commercial properties downtown? Please, City of Davis, reconsider this! —BarbaraZ

2011-11-11 15:45:52   Don't do it Davis. —resincakes

2011-11-11 16:04:10   Both last night (Thursday at 6:30pm) and this afternoon (12:30pm) I had a hell of a time finding a parking place. Both times it was 10+ minutes, and last night I wound up in the F Street theater structure, more than 3 blocks from my destination. So I'll say it again: downtown needs a parking solution. I don't know whether this structure is the right solution, but I'm guessing it'd be better than nothing. —TomGarberson

  • Do you ever have problems finding parking in the metered parking lot downtown? I never have, but then again, like most people, I hate paying for parking in Davis. Forgive me if I'm wrong, but my assumption is that the parking garage would also not be free. If it is actually going to be free, it may sway my opinion. -SM

2011-11-30 17:41:57   Good news the Council put this on hold on October 4, 2011. But, keep an eye on what transpires both with the lot and with the bond money that's sitting accruing interest at $92K/month. —fknochenhauer

  • What I meant was the carrying charge to the city is $92,000 each month.

2011-11-30 19:06:45   The bonds are costing the city money. From the Sac Bee: "... the city will pay effective rates of 7.1 percent on one $13.3 million issue and 8.4 percent on $4.7 million on another." Read more:

2012-03-25 11:14:04   I'd be in favor of this, if it means they eliminate most on street parking downtown - which is majorly hazardous to cyclists and causes a lot of traffic. Kudos to whoever got the city to start putting in bike parking instead of car spaces on the street over in front of Orange Court and a block over near E Street PlazaAlexMandel