In 2013, Dana Point’s historic town center was pockmarked by vacant lots and underused buildings. The city’s Town Center Plan, adopted five years earlier, had identified excessive minimum parking regulations as a key factor deterring reinvestment. But Dana Point had been unable to win permission from the state’s Coastal Commission to change the requirements.
To help realize the Plan’s vision for revitalizing downtown, the city commissioned a comprehensive parking plan. Patrick Siegman led the effort while serving as a principal at Nelson\Nygaard Consulting. The work included extensive public outreach, analyzing existing parking supply and demand; building a shared parking model to project future demand; and drafting parking requirements that would be better suited to the actual needs of a mixed-use town center.
The district’s parking supply – which largely consisted of small, underused private lots – was 44% vacant at even the busiest hour. Yet many perceived a parking shortage. To fix this, the plan incentivizes landowners to convert existing private lots into efficiently shared public parking. Parking requirements for new development are also sharply reduced if the parking is made available to the public, allowing for efficient sharing between nearby uses. The option of paying an in-lieu-of-parking fee provides additional flexibility.
To prevent excessive spillover parking into coastal neighborhoods, while meeting the Coastal Commission’s goal of preserving public access to the coast, we drafted an ordinance establishing a residential parking benefit district. The district allows public parking at a reasonable fee, while letting residents continue to park for free.
The parking plan and ordinances were approved by the City Council in 2015. Four public parking facilities have been created by converting existing lots and garages into shared public parking. New mixed-use buildings with 109 residences, 25,000 square feet of restaurant and retail space, and 141 public parking spaces are under construction.