Ever try to park downtown for lunch and can't find a space?
Try thinking that you're parking in Stoneridge Mall or at the San Francisco Outlets where it's just a block-long walk to the stores and restaurants and you'll find plenty of open spaces near downtown Pleasanton, too.
Even the now-paved "railroad corridor" near the Meadowlark Dairy usually has a few noon-time spots. At lunchtime and during crowded dinner hours, the Firehouse Arts Center parking lot is seldom filled except during theater events.
The problem, says Laura Olson, executive director of the Pleasanton Downtown Association, is that many motorists don't know about these lots. Even the railroad corridor, halfway between Main and First streets, which until last year was a dirt roadway, is now half paved but often empty. Another parking strip behind the PDA's offices on First Street is marked one-way, requiring motorists to circle the block to find the entrance.
Now the city has prepared a parking study with short- and long-term suggestions on better managing downtown parking. It includes ways to possibly expand the parking supply and ways to help motorists heading this way feel more comfortable about shopping and dining downtown.
Although the study found that there are 3,320 parking spaces downtown, many are on private property. City representatives will start meeting with owners to see if more of those lots could be marked as open to the public during non-business hours.
Based on GPS data used to compile travel behavior to the downtown, planners also want to use directional and even digital signs to show motorists where available parking is located. Those could help the 85% of total trips to downtown Pleasanton that originate here or in Dublin, Livermore and San Ramon.
On weekdays, the highest proportion of trips downtown (32%) come from businesses in Hacienda and northeast Pleasanton. On weekends, shoppers and diners coming from Dublin and San Ramon represent the greatest proportion. An estimated 39% of trips are between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.; 33% between 3 and 7 p.m.
To make more parking available for those heading downtown, the city recently marked parking spots on First Street and on the newly paved sections of the railroad corridor. City staff also plans to create an Information Center to consolidate information for businesses and the public regarding alternative transportation methods, such as Wheels buses and shuttles.
Bike corrals will be added downtown, possibly by removing the concrete newspaper racks on Main Street sidewalks. A traffic enforcement officer has been assigned to ticket cars left parked downtown for more than three hours, issuing more than 130 citations since the program began in March. A proposal to install parking meters on Main Street met with stiff resistance from council members.
Parking garages are other options being considered to handle an expected growth in retail and restaurant businesses downtown. A two-story garage at the Workbench True Value site could accommodate 135 parking spaces, 50 more than are now available on the surface lot.
Up to 465 spaces could be constructed with a multi-story garage in the Bank of America-owned lot at Angela and Peters. At least 200 spaces could be added with a parking garage in the new Inklings Coffee and Tea lot between Main Street and Railroad Avenue. The estimated costs of building these garages ranges from $3.8 million to 12.6 million.
On second thought, the Firehouse parking lot doesn't seem all that far away.