City Proposes Expansion of Mesa Parking Permit Program

City Hall is continuing to gauge public support for the possible expansion of a Mesa parking permit program designed to keep SBCC students from monopolizing off-campus roadside spaces. Fifty or so residents attended a meeting at the Faulkner Gallery last Wednesday to voice questions and concerns about the proposed change.

In March 2015, frustrated with increasing competition from students, residents of the 400 and 500 blocks of La Marina Terrace petitioned City Hall to expand the 25-year-old Parking Permit Area M to their part of the neighborhood. Predicting similar requests in the future as students are pushed to surrounding streets, transportation staff suggested to do a much larger Area M expansion rather than process a patchwork of petitions. (See the accompanying map or go here for the current and proposed boundaries.) It will ultimately be up to the City Council to approve the increase.

As they did on Wednesday, city managers have sought to clarify misconceptions about the proposal. Expanding Area M wouldn’t automatically restrict parking along newly incorporated streets, they explained — each block face would need 70 percent resident support to enact the restrictions. They also rebuffed allegations from residents that the expansion is meant to accommodate the Beach City student housing development on Cliff Drive. “That’s not true,” said transportation planner Rob Dayton in a later interview. “We initiated Area M expansion at the request of residents who are outside the area, but want to enact parking restrictions.”

Current and proposed boundaries of Area M
Click to enlarge photo

City of Santa Barbara

Current and proposed boundaries of Area M

Each parking permit costs $20, according to the city’s website. Residents can purchase a maximum of three vehicle-assigned stickers and one transferable visitor parking placard per dwelling unit each year. Area M permits expire on August 31 every year. On blocks that opt into the program, signs are installed that read: “Resident Parking Only, 8 AM – 4 PM School Days.”

Dayton said he and his department would describe public interest in the expansion to the City Council in late July or August and then make a recommendation on the breadth of the increase. Public comments to date, he said, have been fairly consistently against the proposal. Comments can be made to or by calling (805) 564-5656.

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