Woe to the owners of those big RVs parked on a Fresno street for days because there is no room in the driveway.
The Fresno City Council gave final approval Thursday to an ordinance that limits to 24 hours a week how long a recreational vehicle longer than 18 feet can be parked on any city street.
The law, approved on a unanimous 7-0 vote, also applies to tractor-trailer rigs, utility trailers, boat trailers and other kinds of equipment.
Also on Thursday, the council approved revisions to downtown parking, offering an hour of free parking in city-owned garages but increasing parking meter rates.
The ordinance was proposed last month by District 2 Councilman Steve Brandau representing northwest Fresno and District 3 Councilman Paul Caprioglio in east-central Fresno.
“Citizens regularly call council district offices and the parking services department regarding oversized vehicles parked in their neighborhoods,” city parking manager Del Estabrooke said in a memo to the council.
“Really for me (it’s about) 18-wheelers that park in northwest Fresno,” Brandau said. “Constant complaints.”
The problems aren’t limited to RVs and truck-trailer rigs. Estabrooke said complaints include “trailers, campers, farm machinery, boats and construction equipment,” Estabrooke wrote.
Besides blocking the line of sight to the street for neighbors to back out of driveways, some residents are bothered when vehicles are parked for extended periods of time.
“Bona fide guests of a resident may park a recreational vehicle or trailer on the street in front of the host’s residence for a period of seven days” if the host notifies the city’s parking department.
And just moving the RV across or down the street won’t pass the city’s muster. An RV or other vehicle “will be in violation of this ordinance if left parked or standing on a street or alley within 1,000 feet of the same location after 24 hours.”
Even tougher rules will apply to wrecked, abandoned or inoperable vehicles on public property or in a public right of way.
The city’s parking department or police department can have a vehicle towed if in violation of the ordinance. The fine for a citation under the ordinance is $108, Estabrooke said.
The change to the law takes effect in 31 days, but Estabrooke said there will be a 90-day period during which the city will issue courtesy notices before enforcement begins in earnest. The ordinance only affects residential streets in the Fresno city limits, and not county islands within the city.
In another parking-related move, a divided City Council narrowly approved a downtown parking plan that will provide one hour of free parking in three city-owned garages, while also raising the rates at about 1,900 downtown parking meters.
The program includes putting an end to deep discounts for contracted parking rates for government agencies and businesses that lease spaces in the garages.
Council Members Caprioglio, Esmeralda Soria, Oliver Baines and Luis Chavez voted for the plan, while members Brandau, Garry Bredefeld and Council President Clint Olivier cast opposing votes.
I hear constituents saying they hate coming downtown because they hate the parking and they hate the one-way streets.
City Council President Clint Olivier
Estabrooke and City Manager Bruce Rudd said they believe that offering free short-term parking in the garages will encourage more people to use the structures than compete for parking meters in high-demand locations.
Rudd added that the city needs to take measures to increase income from parking to make headway on about $10 million in badly needed, but long-deferred, maintenance projects in the parking garages.
“The last time we had any change to our meter or garage rates was 10 years ago,” Rudd said.
The current charge for parking meters in downtown is about 75 cents an hour. That flat rate will be replaced by what Estabrooke called “tiered rates” ranging from $1 to $1.50 per hour. “You have a high and a low, and a couple of rates in between, and where you have the most use, you have the higher rates,” Estabrooke said. The plan also calls for removing meters in low-use areas and replacing them with two-hour parking zones.
Aaron Blair, president and CEO of the Downtown Fresno Partnership, said the business organization’s board supports the changes to the parking fees.
“One hour of free parking is one of the biggest steps forward that we’ve seen the city do to support the revitalization of Fulton Street,” Blair told the council. He added that he hopes the changes eventually will lead to the installation of smart parking meters where customers can renew their meters with a smartphone app or a credit card rather than running to the curb to feed a meter.
Estabrooke said he hopes the one-hour-free garage parking “will create some buzz and lead to bigger and better things downtown.”
But Bredefeld and Olivier were skeptical.
“I’m concerned that we’re sending a message that we want people to come downtown but we’re charging them more to be downtown,” Bredefeld said. “We have to find amenities to bring people downtown. … I think this is the wrong direction. When we raise the fees, it decreases the use.”
Olivier was even more blunt in his criticism. “We are told over and over that people are chomping at the bit to go downtown,” he said of reports from consultants on parking issues. “But I hear constituents saying they hate coming downtown because they hate the parking and they hate the one-way streets.”
Olivier said that the city has for years failed in its efforts to serve parking needs, “and what the council is going to do today is fail one more time.”
Several council members, including Chavez and Baines who voted for the parking fee plan, said they believe the city’s long-term goal should be to sell the garages and get out of the parking business. But to make the structures marketable, the city needs to make the necessary investment to repair them, they said.
A consultant report estimated that by ending the deep discounts of contract-leased parking spaces and the increase of the parking meter rates, the city could see an additional $866,000 a year in revenue that would be used to catch up on repairs and upgrade parking meters to more modern equipment
“It’s always hard to make a vote to raise fees, but for a long time people have kicked the can” (down the road), Soria said. “We heard from the business community that they support this. … And it’s great that we’re going to upgrade our parking meters.”