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File #: 2021-1391   
Type: Regular Agenda Item
Body: City Council
On agenda: 11/16/2021
Title: Recommendation to Reorganize the City's Parking Management Program and Parking Fund; Adoption of Resolution Amending the Fiscal Year 2021-22 Parking Fund Budget to Restructure the Parking Fund; and Adoption of Resolution Amending the Salary Schedule for the Alameda City Employees Association (ACEA) and the Alameda Police Officers Association, Non-Sworn (PANS) to Move the Two Parking Enforcement Positions from PANS to ACEA and Reassign Two Full-Time Parking Enforcement Position Allocations from the Police Department to Public Works. (Public Works 265) [Not heard on November 2, 2021]
Attachments: 1. Exhibit 1 - Proposed Budget, 2. Resolution - Budget, 3. Resolution - Salary Schedule, 4. Presentation, 5. Correspondence - Updated 11/15

Title

 

Recommendation to Reorganize the City’s Parking Management Program and Parking Fund;

Adoption of Resolution Amending the Fiscal Year 2021-22 Parking Fund Budget to Restructure the Parking Fund; and

Adoption of Resolution Amending the Salary Schedule for the Alameda City Employees Association (ACEA) and the Alameda Police Officers Association, Non-Sworn (PANS) to Move the Two Parking Enforcement Positions from PANS to ACEA and Reassign Two Full-Time Parking Enforcement Position Allocations from the Police Department to Public Works. (Public Works 265)  [Not heard on November 2, 2021]

Body

 

To: Honorable Mayor and Members of the City Council

 

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

 

The City of Alameda (City) must actively manage its public parking and curb space to achieve City Council-adopted goals related to transportation management, climate change, environmental protection, traffic safety, and economic development. The Alameda Point Transportation Management Plan, Transportation Choices Plan, and Climate Action and Resiliency Plan (CARP) require parking management to reduce traffic, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, ensure access to services and facilities, and support the vitality of the City’s two main street commercial areas.

In 2019 and early 2020, the City Council held a series of public hearings to improve the City’s parking management and enforcement program to address program deficiencies and establish a path forward to enable the management of the City’s three ferry terminal parking lots.  At those meetings, the City Council approved two new full-time, non-sworn parking enforcement positions for the Police Department, a Parking Enforcement Automated License Plate Reader (ALPR) Policy, and a series of Alameda Municipal Code (AMC) amendments to improve the parking program.

The COVID pandemic caused staff to delay implementation of parking fees at the ferry terminals and postpone hiring the two full time enforcement positions.  The City’s COVID response also resulted in dramatic decreases in revenue from parking meters and lots.

At this time, staff recommends that the City Council approve a reorganization of the City’s Parking Management Program and Parking program budget.  The major features of the proposed reorganization are the following:

                     Move parking enforcement personnel and responsibilities from the Police Department to Public Works, allowing the program to be re-branded as a transportation management program.  The Police Department will retain responsibility for vehicle towing and abandoned vehicles.

                     Combine parking citation revenues and paid parking revenues from parking meters, lots, and garages into a single new Parking Management Fund (Parking Fund).  All parking management expenses, including but not limited to parking management and enforcement staff, vehicles, meters, collections, garage and lot maintenance will be charged to the Parking Fund.  Consolidating the revenues into a single fund will allow City Council to better evaluate program effectiveness and ensure that the program becomes financially self-sufficient without the need for annual General Fund support.

 

BACKGROUND

 

The City manages on-street parking and curb space, three surface lots in commercial areas, surface lots at three ferry terminals, and the Civic Center Parking Structure.  Management of these facilities requires the use of parking meters and time limits; loading, disability, and no parking zones; parking fees at the ferry terminal lots; residential parking permit districts; and parking and street sweeping enforcement.

 

As discussed in more detail in the 2019 and 2020 reports, the City must manage its parking and curb space to achieve Council goals related to transportation management, climate change, traffic safety, environmental quality, and economic development.  The table below provides a brief summary of the relationship of parking management to City Council goals.

 

Parking Management Goal

Council-Adopted Policies and Plans

Reasoning

Manage transportation and congestion

• Alameda Point Transportation Management Plan (2014) • Transportation Choices Plan (2018) • 85% parking occupancy goal (2014)

Parking management and pricing is an effective tool for reducing congestion, supporting transit and supporting active forms of transportation, such as walking and bicycling.

Reduce greenhouse gas emissions

Climate Action and Resiliency Plan (2019)

The CARP includes parking management as a key strategy to reduce emissions from the single occupancy vehicle trips, thus reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

Increase traffic safety

Vision Zero policy (2019)

Reducing circling and double-parking makes streets safer for people walking, biking, and driving, helping achieve the City’s goal to eliminate traffic deaths and severe injuries. Congested areas have high levels of pedestrians, and drivers looking for parking are distracted; the more turns these drivers make, the more risk there is for pedestrians.

Increase economic vitality

85% parking occupancy goal (2014)

Parking management helps ensure that parking is available for customers. 85% parking occupancy means that every block will always have at least a few parking spaces available in commercial areas. This is achieved through parking pricing and time limits.  

Environmental protection

• Clean Water Program • AMC Chapter 18, Article III: Stormwater Management and Discharge Control Ordinance

Enforcing street sweeping parking restrictions facilitate the street sweeping that is required to help prevent storm water pollution.

 

The Alameda Point Transportation Management Plan, Transportation Choices Plan, and CARP all require parking management to reduce motor vehicle traffic and GHG emissions citywide.  These Plans aim to address growing parking management needs across the city and especially at Alameda Point, with the new ferry terminal, housing development, and an overall plan for 4,000 new public parking spaces.  These Plans envision paid parking at the Harbor Bay Ferry Terminal, Main Street Ferry Terminal, the new Seaplane Lagoon Ferry Terminal, and a variety of future public parking lots at Alameda Point; parking restrictions at Alameda Point and in future residential parking permit zones; and adjusting parking fees and enforcement of parking restrictions on the commercial corridors to maintain an 85% parking occupancy rate.

 

In 2019, City Council directed staff to expand the parking enforcement program to include a mix of full-time and part-time City employees, including approval of two new full-time, non-sworn Parking Technician positions in the Police Department.  City Council directed staff not to pursue a third-party contractor for parking enforcement services.

 

In 2020, City Council approved an ordinance amending the AMC with a series of items aimed at improving parking management. These changes made the following possible:

                     Mobile payment and electronic permits

                     Flexibility for the Public Works Director to adjust hourly parking meter rates between $0.00 and $5.00 consistent with the goal of achieving an 85% occupancy target.

                     Prohibiting meter payment beyond the posted time limit.

                     Enforcing posted time limits on vehicles that move less than 150 feet or move to a different spot in the same lot.

                     Utilizing excess parking rate funds for specific items such as alternative mode programs and painting curbs for loading and disability parking.

 

In 2020, City Council approved the Parking Enforcement Automated License Plate Reader Policy, which is separate from the Police Department’s ALPR policy focused on tackling crime. Used for parking enforcement at cities across the Bay Area and the nation, ALPR technology makes parking enforcement more efficient and less labor-intensive, enabling parking enforcement to check meter payment status simply by driving down the street in an ALPR-equipped vehicle.  Similarly, ALPR allows enforcement of time-limited parking without requiring personnel to chalk tires or manually record license plate numbers, locations, and times.  Parking enforcement personnel using ALPR systems do not have access to personally identifiable information; the policy requires proper information security and data purges; and City Council directed staff to reduce the data storage time to one year.  California state law requires that parking citations still be printed and placed on vehicles.

 

The COVID pandemic caused delay in implementing parking fees at the ferry terminals and hiring the two full time enforcement positions.  It also caused dramatic decreases in revenue from parking meters and lots, both due to a reduction in visitors in commercial areas and the Commercial Streets program, which reconfigured streets to support local businesses.  The shelter in place order caused single-space meter revenue to plummet 92% between April 2019 and April 2020, from $85,190 to $6,600.  The City saw similar losses in the Civic Center Parking Structure and along the two blocks of multi-space meters on Park Street.  At the request of business associations, almost all of the parking spaces along the reconfigured streets (plus about 30 spaces outside these areas) were converted to free 15-minute pick-up/drop.  To save money on management and connection fees, staff chose to decommission the Park Street multi-space meters.  Single-space meter revenue has increased steadily in 2021, reaching $52,000 in July 2021, an improvement but still 37% lower than revenue in July 2019.

 

DISCUSSION

 

Over the last year and a half since City Council’s last public hearing on parking, staff has continued to evaluate how best to meet City Council’s goals for transportation management, environmental protection, traffic safety, economic development, and public safety.  As a result of this evaluation, staff recommend that the City Council approve a re-organization of the Parking program and the Parking Fund.  The major features of the reorganization and City Council actions needed to implement the proposed reorganization are described below.

 

Organizational Changes: Move Parking Enforcement from the Police Department to Public Works.

 

Staff recommends moving parking enforcement responsibilities from the Police Department to Public Works.  Parking enforcement plays a critical role in managing parking as part of the transportation system, but unlike moving violations (e.g. speeding, illegal U-turns, etc.), parking enforcement does not need to be done by sworn personnel.  Many municipalities, including Monterey, Sacramento, San Francisco, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, San Jose, Santa Rosa and others, choose to administer parking enforcement in departments that are responsible for transportation or parking, instead of law enforcement.

 

The Alameda Police Department currently has two vacant full-time parking enforcement positions approved by City Council in 2019:  a Lead Parking Technician and a Parking Technician.  Four part-time Parking Technician positions (of eight budgeted part time positions) are filled, although two are out on long-term leave.  Police Department Parking Technicians wear police uniforms, drive vehicles with police markings, and undergo extensive background checks to obtain clearance to access the California Law Enforcement Telecommunications System (CLETS).

 

The Public Works Department is currently responsible for maintaining the City’s parking meters, collecting parking meter revenues, and maintaining the City’s parking lots and the Civic Center Parking Structure.  Staff recommend the current parking program services provided by Public Works be expanded to include parking enforcement.  The full-time Lead Parking Technician and Parking Technician positions would move to Public Works.  As such, the program would be rebranded as the positions will not wear police uniforms, their vehicles will have Public Works parking markings, and citation administration will be administered through the Public Works Department.

 

Public Works parking enforcement personnel will not require clearance to access CLETS, which makes hiring and training significantly easier.  This also simplifies privacy controls since Public Works parking enforcement personnel will not be able to access personally identifiable information.  Public Works parking technicians’ responsibilities would be limited to issuing parking tickets to vehicles violating restrictions for parking meters, red zones (No Parking), blue zones (parking for people with disabilities), yellow zones (loading areas), double parking, street cleaning, and similar parking restrictions.

 

Public Works enforcement staff will rely on and coordinate with the Police Department when vehicle towing is necessary, because towing requires CLETS access.  This arrangement is common in other cities where parking enforcement is not in the Police Department.  The Police Department will also continue to run the Abandoned Vehicle Unit, which tows vehicles.

 

Staff recommends the existing four part-time Parking Technician positions remain in the Police Department to support vehicle towing as well as traffic control and other Police Department support.  As the Public Works parking enforcement program ramps up in the future, the program will hire new part time staff to meet parking enforcement needs.

 

Required City Council Action. Adopt a resolution amending the salary schedule for the Alameda City Employees Association (ACEA) and the Alameda Police Officers Association, Non-Sworn (PANS) to move the Two Parking Enforcement Positions from PANS TO ACEA and to re-assign the Council-approved Lead Parking Technician and Parking Technician positions to the Public Works Public Works Department.

 

Budget Changes: Establish a Single Parking Management Fund.

 

Effective parking management requires clear policies established by the City Council, appropriate pricing of facilities, effective curb management practices, and consistent and fair enforcement practices.  An effective parking management program also requires financial planning and the ability to effectively allocate resources to improve or change the program.  Effective financial planning requires the ability to easily compare program revenues with program expenses.

 

Currently, program revenues are not consolidated into a single fund.  Parking revenues from meters and lots are placed in the Parking Fees and Civic Center Garage funds, and revenues from enforcement are placed in the General Fund.

 

To effectively plan and manage program costs, staff recommends City Council approve a budget amendment to establish a single, consolidated Parking Fund.  All parking management and enforcement expenses would be paid from this single fund, and all revenues from parking meter collections and parking citations would be deposited in this single fund.  The different revenue and expense streams would be tracked as divisions in the fund. Bringing all parking-related revenues and expenses into one fund allows the City to run the program cohesively and better achieve the program’s goal to be financially self-sufficient without the need for General Fund support (see Exhibit 1).  This structure is used successfully in Emeryville.

 

In the short term, the citation revenues will help the Parking Fund recover from pandemic revenue losses and help the parking program invest in needed equipment and staffing to meet the growing parking enforcement needs in Alameda Point and across the city.  In the long term, staff expects the Parking Fund to regularly generate excess revenues, which the City Council will have the discretion to allocate to a variety of purposes.

 

Each year, during the annual budget review process, City Council will have the opportunity to evaluate the effectiveness of the citywide parking program and make adjustments to the City Manager’s recommended use of the funds.  All parking management expenses including parking management and enforcement staff, vehicles, meters, collections, garage and lot maintenance, vehicle towing, abandoned vehicle program and associated expenditures will be charged to the Parking Fund.

 

Proposed Parking Management Fund

 

 

Fund Name, Division Name

Fund

Division

Parking Management, On-Street Parking and Surface Lots

265

642

Parking Management, Civic Center Parking Structure

265

641

Parking Management, Enforcement

265

643

 

Required City Council Action. Adopt a resolution approving a budget adjustment to create the new Parking Management Fund.

 

Next Steps

 

If the City Council agrees with the staff recommendations described above, staff will initiate the next steps in the re-establishment of parking management in Alameda. The priorities are:

 

                     Begin recruitment for the two new positions in the Public Works Department.

                     Re-establish effective parking management and enforcement on Park and Webster Street. (See Commercial Streets Staff Report for more detail).

                     Acquire meters and begin initial parking fees at Seaplane Lagoon Ferry Terminal.

 

In order to achieve these priorities, staff plans to return at a future City Council date to request:

 

                     Approve an ordinance amending the AMC to allow non-Police employees to enforce parking violations.

                     Approve daily rates for Seaplane Lagoon.  Staff will recommend a starting rate based on consultation with the Water Emergency Transportation Authority (WETA) and a survey of Bay Area ferry terminal parking lot fees.  Staff anticipates the need to start with lower rates while ferry ridership is still low due to COVID, with the understanding that the price will rise as needed to ensure spaces are available for people taking later ferries.

                     Approval to purchase multi-space parking meters for Seaplane Lagoon as well as units to replace the aged, decommissioned multi-space meters on two blocks of Park Street. (The City may rent the machines in advance of purchase.)

                     As part of the mid-year budget review, approve additional budget allocations for equipment and consultant support needed to set up the Public Works enforcement program, and other parking program needs.

 

ALTERNATIVES

 

The City Council may:

                     Approve the staff recommendation on both the reorganization of department responsibilities and the parking fund re-design.

                     Approve one but not both of the staff recommendations.

                     Reject both recommendations and direct staff to maintain parking enforcement within the Police Department and maintain the separate revenue accounts.

 

FINANCIAL IMPACT

 

The proposed reorganization of the enforcement responsibilities and the Parking Fund includes a reduction to the service costs, an increase to the part-time pay costs, and an increase in the revenue assumptions associated with increased enforcement compared to what was previously budgeted in FY 2021-22 to manage parking (see Exhibit 1). The most significant change is the transfer of budgeted revenues and expenses for Enforcement from the General Fund to the proposed Parking Fund, which is a special revenue fund. Any future proposed budget adjustments will be brought to City Council for consideration.

 

The parking fund changes will allow for better financial management of the parking management program.  The goal of the parking program is to eliminate the need for General Fund support.  Any excess revenues generated by parking violations (see Fund 265 Division 643 in table above) which are not needed to support the parking management program could be used for other General Fund eligible expenses.  Each year when the City Council reviews the Budget, Council will be able to determine if there are available funds in the Parking Fund to cover parking management expenses.  At that time City Council may choose to reduce expenses to create a surplus, which might be used for other City Council priorities, or City Council may choose to increase parking fund expenses to improve parking management in Alameda.

 

Staff projects that the combined parking management program will be revenue positive for Fiscal Year 2021-22:

 

Parking Fund

FY2021-22

Revenues

$1,950,000

Expenses

 

On-Street Parking and Surface Lots

776,574

Civic Center Parking Structure

747,925

Enforcement

384,548

Expenses Total

$1,909,047

Revenues Less Expenses

$40,953

 

Note that operations at Civic Center Parking Structure are designed to be subsidized by on-street parking.  To encourage drivers to go directly to the Parking Structure rather than circling for on-street parking, Parking Structure rates are half the cost of nearby parking meters and its paid hours end an hour earlier.

 

Staff’s assumptions are for this projection are dependent upon continued financial recovery of the On-Street and Civic Center Parking Structure programs. As described earlier, revenue for both programs declined during the first year of the COVID pandemic, but have been recovering over the past six months. Staff expects this recovery to continue through the balance of Fiscal Year 2021-22, and into Fiscal Year 2022-23.

 

Staff expects to return to City Council with the necessary budget amendments for parking program needs, and to start up the Public Works Enforcement program with additional enforcement equipment, vehicles, and other operating supplies.  These are not yet reflected here.

 

MUNICIPAL CODE/POLICY DOCUMENT CROSS REFERENCE

 

AMC Chapter 8 contains parking prohibitions and Chapter 12 covers public parking regulations and use of the parking fund. California Vehicle Code section 22500 et seq. regulates stopping, standing, and parking of vehicles. AMC Chapter 18, Article III, speaks to street sweeping as part of storm water management.  Adoption of this Ordinance is consistent with adopted City policies in the 2019 Vision Zero policy, the 2019 Climate Action and Resiliency Plan, the 2018 Transportation Choices Plan, and the 2014 Alameda Point Transportation Demand Management Plan.

 

ENVIRONMENTAL REVIEW

 

In accordance with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), this project is Categorically Exempt pursuant to CEQA Guidelines Section 15301(c) Existing Facilities and 15303 (new construction of small structures) and 15183 Projects consistent with a General Plan

 

CLIMATE IMPACT

 

Parking management plays an important role in reducing GHG emissions from private vehicles. With the recommended parking technologies and enforcement tools, the City will be better able to manage parking and traffic to meet GHG reduction goals.  Achieving an 85% occupancy goal means that every block has a couple of open parking spaces, and drivers can park quickly rather than continuing to drive while looking for parking.  Reducing double-parking also helps buses run efficiently on commercial corridors, making it that much more viable for people to choose buses over driving.

 

Consistently enforced paid parking programs can influence mode choice. Free parking provides a powerful incentive to drive; when parking is priced right and enforced for compliance, people are more likely to consider other modes of travel.  Parking management also plays a key role in improving street sweeping effectiveness and litter control by providing the street sweepers better access to the curb line.  Improved litter collection at the curb line ensures compliance with regulatory litter control programs and improves local flood control resiliency by keeping more litter out of the municipal storm drainage system.

 

RECOMMENDATION

 

Reorganize the City’s Parking Management Program; Adopt Resolution Amending the Fiscal Year 2021-23 Parking Fund Budget to Restructure the Parking Fund; and Adoption of resolution amending the Salary Schedule for the Alameda City Employees Association (ACEA) and the Alameda Police Officers Association, Non-Sworn (PANS) to move the Two Parking Enforcement Positions from PANS TO ACEA and to reassign two full time Parking Enforcement position allocations from the Police Department to Public Works.

 

CITY MANAGER RECOMMENDATION

 

The City Manager recommends approval. 

 

Respectfully submitted,

Erin Smith, Public Works Director

Andrew Thomas, Planning, Building, and Transportation Director

Nishant Joshi, Police Chief

 

By,

Lisa Foster, Planning, Building, and Transportation

Liz Acord, Public Works

 

Exhibit:

1.                     Proposed Budget

 

 

Financial Impact section reviewed,

Annie To, Finance Director

 

 

cc:                     Eric Levitt, City Manager