Walnut Creek Mayor's Message
Sep 04, 2015 12:04PM ● Published by Jennifer Neys
by Bob Simmons, Mayor of Walnut Creek
Good news! The governor has signed AB 451, the private parking bill. I testified in favor of the bill. It passed both the Senate and the Assembly unanimously, and it provides a solid statutory basis for the ordinance Walnut Creek has had in place since 1999. It means that the more than 10,000 privately-owned parking spaces in our downtown can still be made available for public use.
Do you ever hear someone say, “I don’t go to downtown Walnut Creek because of the parking?” I do, but if you don’t like to valet park (even though thousands of people use valet parking every month), how can you find a parking space in downtown Walnut Creek? Well, there are several ways. In this issue, I am going to focus on parking technology, which has completely revised how smart people park.
Some of the technology is what I would call enabling technology. For the surface lots and on-street parking, there are sensors in the ground at each parking stall. Those sensors can communicate whether the stall is filled or empty. The current, solar-powered parking meter can communicate if there is still value left on the meter. This information is critical to apps you can obtain for your cell phone that inform you about available parking spaces (just like the navigation apps inform you about traffic). The current meters also allow payment via credit card, and the city is exploring further changes to allow payment via cell phone. This would also allow an extension of the time, as long as the maximum time limit is not reached.
Regarding the garages, the city-owned parking garages operate on a networked 24-hour system. This enables the city to provide real-time parking guidance and parking count information. The garage counts are updated daily at 4am to make the number counts in the garage as accurate as possible.
So, how do you find a parking space in downtown Walnut Creek without driving around the block multiple times? Perhaps you visually check out the nearby garages and see if the signage indicates there are parking spaces available. There is a better way. Yelp-users can search for parking garages (both private and public) from their in-car navigation systems and cell phones. There are over 30,000 searches for parking in Walnut Creek every month on Yelp.
If you don’t use Yelp, there is an app (www.parkme.com) that connects to publicly available spaces on both private and public property, and it provides real-time information on available parking spaces.
There is also an employee-parking program (www.spothero.com) that allows employees to reserve both daily and monthly parking spaces. While designed for employees, it can be reserved by anyone, and the reservation occurs in the same way that one requests an Uber or Lyft transport.
So, the next time you hear a friend say they don’t go to downtown Walnut Creek because of the parking, help him or her learn how to use modern technology to find parking so they can become a smart parker and enjoy downtown Walnut Creek like you.