Improvements are Coming to Downtown Metered Parking

Learn more and tell us what you think in the survey at the end of this post.

Why does the City meter parking?
Metering parking in busy areas is intended to ensure on-street parking spaces are available for businesses and visitors looking for short-term parking.

As Sacramento continues to evolve, the City needs to improve the current flow of traffic to accommodate growth. To ease traffic congestion and make the parking experience easier, the City of Sacramento is in the process of modernizing its parking services.

After several years of research and community input, the City has been evaluating and is now proposing parking changes that will better manage supply and demand during a time of increased activity. Last month, City Council approved a new system to upgrade technology at downtown parking garages and this month, City Council has approved:

  1. An increase in the parking meter rate from $1.25 to $1.75 per hour (effective mid-December)
  2. A new parking pilot program called SPOT Zone to manage parking turnover.

About Meter Rate Increase

Every five to ten years the City evaluates parking rates to compare meter revenues and expenses such as traffic control, labor, services, supplies, inspection, installation, maintenance of parking spaces, and administrative costs.

Since its last rate increase in 2008, the City has installed more customer-friendly parking meters that accept credit card payments, have pay-by-phone/texting capabilities, and can be equipped with vehicle detecting sensors. As a result of the escalating operating costs for communication fees, credit card fees, and equipment maintenance for these meters, City staff recommended increasing meter rates by $0.50 per hour.


Credit: City of Sacramento

According to the City, the new rate of $1.75 per hour is still less than the average $2 per hour meter rate among similarly sized cities in California.

About SPOT Zone Pilot Program

To increase the availability of on-street parking, reduce traffic congestion, and manage parking turnover, the City wants to create a customer-centric approach to downtown parking by incentivizing longer-term parkers to park in garages rather than metered on-street spaces.

To achieve this, the City has approved the new SPOT Zone pilot program in Midtown and Old Sacramento. When parked in a SPOT Zone, drivers will have the option of extending their meter beyond the posted time limit remotely – at a premium rate determined by a tiered-rate structure (Tier 1, 2, 3).


Credit: City of Sacramento

The goal of the SPOT Zone pilot is to study the effectiveness of the pricing model. If it works, the results will be used as guidelines for extending parking beyond the posted limit at all meters.

The SPOT Zone pilot program will last approximately 90 days in two areas:

  1. 10 meters in Old Sacramento at 935 Front Street
  2. 13 meters in Midtown in the Handle District at 18th & L Streets

Parking is an important piece of the downtown economic development puzzle. Maintaining optimal turnover and vacancy rates of on-street parking helps to ensure parking is available for downtown visitors and patrons.

Looking Ahead

As the city continues to modernize its on-street parking program, discussion about additional future recommendations, including but not limited to new event pricing, extending parking enforcement hours and residential permit programs, is likely to continue.

Take a moment to share your quick thoughts on some of these future issues:

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