Loveland Planning Commission considering downtown parking management – ​​Loveland Reporter-Herald

Free parking in downtown Loveland could be a thing of the past, if the recommendations of a city-commissioned parking study are officially adopted. On Monday, the Loveland Planning Commission discussed those recommendations, along with other options for more robust parking management.

“It’s important for vibrant economies and merchant incomes because people can get in to shop faster instead of constantly looking for a parking space,” consultant Mallory Baker of Walker Consultants told the commission. “A great parking user experience makes people happier and more excited to be in your downtown.”

The city began working with Walker Consultants to assess downtown parking in 2018. During Phase I, Walker collected parking data for a 32-block area, from East Ninth Street north, at East First Street south, between Garfield and Washington Avenues. , and including the municipal complex. During Phase 2 of the study, Baker and his team conducted public outreach and engagement activities, including a survey, and reviewed the city’s current strategies.

Walker and staff from the city’s development division are currently preparing the third phase of the study project – a management and implementation action plan. On Monday, Baker Services and Development Director Brett Limbaugh presented a summary of findings to date and potential options moving forward.

According to the inventory, there are 2,342 places available downtown, of which about half are on the street. Sixty-five percent is unrestricted, meaning cars can stay as long as needed. Just over 30% are limited to two hours.

Peak occupancy during the study period was 67%, but parking demand tended to be unevenly distributed, Baker said.

“At that time, downtown Loveland had enough parking to meet demand,” Baker said. “The challenges we were seeing were demand distribution challenges, which meant everyone wanted to park on Fourth and Fifth Streets.”

Baker said one of the first actions in the next phase will be to collect updated data. During Phase 1, the foundry project and parking garage were still under construction.

But even without the updated numbers, it’s clear there is room for improvement in how parking is handled in downtown Loveland, she said.

Baker and his team don’t recommend building more garages or parking lots because many of the city’s parking problems could be solved with more consistent management.

Currently, the city spends about $1,000,000 a year on parking services, but it’s done in multiple departments, making it “piecemeal.”

This results in reduced turnover near “hot spots” and long-term parking by employees intended for visitors or shoppers. However, there are few resources in the Loveland Police Department dedicated to parking, so the enforcement of tight spaces is inconsistent at best.

The study recommends the creation of a parking and mobility management department which will take charge of parking control.

The parking department would also oversee a paid parking system, another of Walker’s recommendations. Paid parking would help the city balance the costs of increased management, as well as other city initiatives around mobility or multimodal transportation.

The study also recommends better signage to direct visitors to additional parking lots.

Most planning commissioners responded favorably to the findings of the study and recognized the need for stricter management. However, many have raised concerns about safety in car parks, especially at night. Two commissioners also suggested using city buses as a shuttle to and from downtown.

The parking proposal will be presented to city council on July 12, then referred to the planning commission after a public hearing on October 10.

David H. Henry