Posted by: twotrees | September 14, 2010

The big blue box

   The new parking management system for downtown Ventura has begun, with several dozen blue boxes set up around town.  It’s been years since paid parking was last seen there but effective from 10am this morning, it’s on again.  The pay stations, large blue boxes set every few spaces or so, are solar-powered and accept coins or credit cards.  They are on a wireless system to city hall, enabling city staff to monitor usage, transactions, etc…

To help visitors, the city has staff and volunteers posted near many of the pay stations as with anything new comes questions.

A few things unsaid are:  While it’s $1 per hour for the first two hours, you can deposit as little as a nickel for a few minutes; you can add more time to your space from any blue box anywhere downtown (just remember your space number!);  those with handicap placards can park free in any paid parking space (no time limit).   It’ll take a little getting use.

The idea is to manage the spaces on Main Street and several side streets so that visitors (both local and tourists) can find a spot on any block.  The target is 85% capacity, meaning that at any given time, the hope is for 15% vacancy.  Of course, for those who prefer not to pay anything, there’s still over 2,000 free spots behind the businesses of Main Street, on side streets and in the parking garage, etc…

While the plan has its detractors, most people appear to have a wait and see attitude.  Ventura is one of the last coastal towns of its size to convert to paid parking and for some merchants, it’s been too slow in coming.  They complain that store employees and others take spaces that they wish were available for their customers.

And the notion of urban planning experts saying that there is ‘no such thing as free parking’ buzzes in my head.  But that’s another story…

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