Walnut Creek dramatically raises parking rates

The city of Walnut Creek is significantly raising the parking fees in an effort to try to free up parking for more customers.
April 7, 2014 12:00:00 AM PDT
Walnut Creek has some of the nicest shopping and restaurant options in the Bay Area. It's a pleasant reality that also comes with a consequence -- parking can be tricky and now it's getting more expensive.

The city did a study on their parking meters and they found that during peak times on Friday and Saturday nights, the meters are 100 percent in use. That means some people are double parking. City leaders think the higher rates will thin out the crowds, but that is exactly what business owners are worried about.

Those who park in Walnut Creek seem less than thrilled with the new rates attached to the city's many parking meters, twice as high as it was just this past Sunday, up to $2 per hour.

"It's a pain. I actually have to get quarters or make sure I use the credit card to pay all the time," said Kelli Nielsen of Walnut Creek.

"The parking rate will ensure that there is more turnover," said Matt Huffaker, assistant to the City Manager.

Walnut Creek leaders maintain it's not a money-grab, but part of a larger effort to free up parking in a town that's a mecca for high-end shopping and dining in the East Bay.

"We have folks that enjoy coming downtown for shopping, for arts and recreation and with that there is a high demand for parking, so we just want to insure that the rate is the right rate, to ensure that there is parking available for folks that need it," said Huffaker.

Perhaps to ease the pain at the meters, the city has made the first hour at three city-owned parking garages, free.

But at the meters, the hours have been extended, now 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. seven days a week.

"I have a lot of people upset that it's going up so high and it's going to be later," said Meghan Kolstad, the manager of Five Little Monkeys Toys, a toy store on North Main. She worries the new rates will be bad for business. When asked if she thought her customers would go somewhere else, she replied, "It's possible and people will spend a lot more time looking around for parking and maybe go a little further away and then not make it down to us."

According to the city, the new rates will be reviewed quarterly and will be adjusted up or down, depending on demand.

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