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Downtown Access Plan Update

Chico, California
Firm Role
Parking planning
230 acres
Place Type

Chico’s Downtown Access Plan provides a comprehensive transportation strategy. The plan includes recommendations on parking, transportation demand management, and street design. Together, they provide a clear strategy for improving access to and revitalizing downtown, while simultaneously reducing motor vehicle trips, congestion, and pollution. The plan’s conceptual street designs re-envision downtown streets as people places. Converting excess vehicle lanes into wider sidewalks, bicycle lanes, and parklets will help downtown become a place where people enjoy strolling, shopping, and dining, rather than a place that drivers hurry through.

The plan’s parking reforms include performance-based parking pricing, which uses demand-based prices to ensure that curb parking is well-used yet readily available on every block. Revenue is returned to downtown to fund downtown improvements. A package of transportation demand management measures improves options for employees, residents, and visitors. The plan also showed how removing downtown’s strict minimum parking requirements – which required twice as much parking as occupancy data showed was actually used – could increase the financial feasibility of new mixed-use development. This led to the removal of all minimum parking regulations.

In 2014, while a Principal at Nelson\Nygaard, Patrick Siegman was engaged by the City of Chico and the downtown business association to help update and implement several aspects of the plan (which Nelson\Nygaard and HDR Town Planning originally prepared in 2006). The follow-up project included multiple meetings and walking tours with downtown stakeholders, and completion of a technical memorandum recommending new parking technologies and best practices for their use.

The result was the implementation of a new system of wirelessly-networked, credit-card-accepting smart meters and pay stations, as well as a data-driven methodology for implementing performance-based parking pricing.

Renderings courtesy of HDR Town Planning