Exeter looks down the road on downtown parking

Paul Myers

City council unanimously votes on resolution establishing a $1,500 parking in-lieu fee for new downtown developments

EXETER – Exeter downtown could be headed for a parking problem, but the city council is looking down the road to avoid being sideswiped by growth.

At their Nov. 10 meeting the council voted 4-0 to approve a resolution establishing a downtown zone parking in-lieu fee. The city brought up the idea earlier this year after city planner Greg Collins conducted a study in January and February. The study looked at the 40 acres that make up Exeter downtown—from Palm and Maple Streets to the north and south, and Southern Pacific Railroad on the west and B Street on the east. The area has a total of 810 parking stalls.

Collins presented his study on May 19, and reported that at peak occupancy for a Saturday only 32% of the on-street and off-street parking stalls were used. Collins said that during peak hours on the Thursday he conducted his study, 50% of the city’s downtown parking stalls were occupied. Although some streets are worse than others.

When Exeter Coffee Company relocated to a new location on E Street, 80% of the on-street parking was occupied. A May 19 staff report noted that E Street’s parking exceeds the norm but, “is a good trend in that it portends that business in the downtown are attracting clients.”

“It’s a good thing to have a lot of parking need in a downtown…most of the time I’m walking down there a lot of the spaces are filled and that means they are doing business,” Exeter city manager Adam Ennis said.

A Nov. 10 city staff report spells out the types of projects a parking in-lieu fee would apply to. The report states that for example, if a business wants to expand their office in the downtown area but does not have the necessary land area to provide for the on-site parking required by the city’s zoning ordinance, the building owner has an opportunity to pay the parking impact fee rather than foregoing construction.

This was exactly the case that brought the issue to light in the first place. Harvest Wealth Group owner Garrett German at 160 S. E St. has been attempting to install a 4,176-square foot addition to his 2,049-square foot business footprint but would not be able to accommodate the on-site parking required. Exeter Planning Commission reports found that German was 11 on-site parking stalls short based on the city’s zoning ordinance.

Instead of forcing German to host 11 more on-site parking stalls that would eat into the space needed for his office expansion, he could pay a per-stall parking in lieu fee. Ennis and Collins said other cities have instituted the measure as a way to avoid curbing development.

Fees per stall can vary greatly depending on the circumstance. A city staff report states that the city has estimated that over the next five years, 75% of new parking stalls will be composed of newly created on-street stalls by restriping. Twenty-five percent will be created by new stalls located in new parking lots.

The report said that restriping a roadway and converting parallel to diagonal parking may free up 25% more parking along one side of a downtown city block. If the restriping added three more parking stalls for example, along one side of the block, the cost of a new stall would be the cost of paint and labor to slurry and seal and restripe all of the spaces and come out to approximately $300 per stall.

However, the cost could go up significantly if the city had to purchase a new parcel of land to accommodate more parking. The report states that the cost of each parking stall could be as much as $3,000. By the time construction, installation and parking lot improvements are complete, the cost could grow to $5,250 per stall.

City staff assumes that 75% of their new parking stalls will come from changing parallel parking to diagonal, and 25% will come from new land. Altogether, they established an average cost per stall at $1,500.

Start typing and press Enter to search