Redwood City is considering charging residents of neighborhoods where parking is hardest to find an annual fee in order to park in their area.
The proposal to establish a residential parking permit fee in high-demand areas was discussed at last week’s City Council meeting. The city recommends keeping the existing allowance of three permits per household in designated areas, but charging $60 per permit for the first two permits in the first year, $130 for the third, with annual renewals costing half the amount of the initial price. The proposal establishes a cost for visitor permits at $25 for 14 days and $4 for one day.
Currently, the city does not charge a fee as part of its Residential Permit Parking Program. The program was established 30 years ago near Sequoia High and Sequoia Hospital to discourage longterm parking by non-residents. Three years ago, parking scarcity led to an expansion of the program to areas near the south end of Broadway in Friendly Acres and near downtown in Stambaugh/Heller.
A continued lack of parking availability has prompted calls to expand the city’s residential permit parking program, according to city staff.
The proposed fees would only cover the cost of program’s administration, not the cost of its enforcement, according to city staff, which noted that the Redwood City Police Department was in the process of hiring two new parking enforcement officers for the program.
On Monday, Sept. 9, City Council approved amendments to the parking program, but did not decide whether to impose a fee. City staff is set to conduct public outreach in the coming months on how to amend the permit program, including whether to impose permit fees, before bringing the proposals back to council before the end of the year.
The fee proposal received mixed reviews during public comment and the Council discussion.
While residents say the Residential Permit Parking Program works, some opposed the concept of being charged to park in front of their homes.
Councilmembers expressed discomfort over the fee proposal, particularly Mayor Ian Bain.
“I have a philosophical problem with charging people to park on public streets, which, arguably, we are also already paying for with our taxes,” Bain said.
Bain and other councilmembers expressed concern over imposing yet another charge on residents struggling to afford staying in Redwood City, where the high demand for housing has increased residential costs.
Councilmember Janet Borgens, who lives in a residential permit area, said she’s more in support of increasing parking citation costs than imposing a fee.
“I do have concern because just the cost of hanging on in this community, to be able to stay here and live her and pay PG&E, rent and DMV fees that have increased, it’s expensive,” she said.
Councilmembers floated the idea of providing the first two of three permits alotted to households for free, and charging for the third. Another idea was to charge for permits on a sliding scale based upon income.
The parking problem in Redwood City is not going away, however, and the city will need to balance an expanding program with the need to fund it, Councilmember Diane Howard said.