OCEANSIDE — Over the last several months, a parking consultant firm has been collecting data and meeting with Oceanside residents to prepare a parking action plan for the city.
Commissioned by the city to put a parking action plan together, Dixon Resources Unlimited has met with community members during three separate discussions open to the public to share data and answer questions throughout the process. The firm collected parking occupancy counts in the city during various times of the day in July and October, then conducted an online survey for business owners and residents that asked when they visit downtown Oceanside and how they would like to see parking change in the city.
With the information Dixon Resources Unlimited has collected, it will prepare a draft of a parking action plan. The plan will be presented at another public discussion likely sometime in March, according to Julie Dixon, president of the parking consultant firm. The firm will collect feedback from that meeting to create a final parking action plan to be presented to City Council hopefully before summertime, Dixon said.
The online survey results, which were shared at the Jan. 16 discussion, documented 14 total responses from downtown businesses and 180 from residents.
At the discussion, Dixon pointed out the variety of operating hours between the different businesses was an important factor in putting together the parking plan. The results showed that 71 percent of the businesses operate outside of the normal business hours of 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Of the business respondents, 46 percent provide private, off-street parking to both customers and employees, and another 46 percent indicated they provide neither. About 8 percent of respondents said they provide it only to customers.
All of the respondents indicated their employees drive to work, and about 46 percent indicated their employees also use public transit or rideshare to get to work.
The survey also asked businesses if they would support expanding paid parking in downtown Oceanside, to which only 38 percent said yes while 62 percent said no. Respondents who wouldn’t support expanded paid parking believe that paid parking would prohibit visitors/customers from visiting downtown, that it would be another added expense to employees and they don’t want to see fees comparable to San Diego and other coastal communities.
Additionally, the survey asked if businesses would support a free shuttle service that transports downtown employees from a remote parking lot outside of the area. Of the respondents, 38 percent were unsure, another 38 percent said they would support such a system and 23 percent said they wouldn’t.
The respondents who wouldn’t support such a service indicated they don’t believe it would benefit their businesses but would have value for the community; that a free shuttle service would be an added expense to the city of Oceanside that could be better used for litter collection, sidewalk repair and homelessness; and that it would not be convenient for employees.
About 62 percent of business respondents said they don’t believe their customers have ample parking because downtown parking is already limited, timed on-street parking enforcement is not enforced frequently enough, available parking is occupied by construction workers and that there is limited parking along Coast Highway.
The results also showed that 75 percent of respondents believe customers should be allowed to park downtown for three hours or more.
Respondents indicated they want to see increased parking and improved parking signage in downtown Oceanside. Additionally, some also indicated they want the city to offer 24-hour parking in some municipal lots, to permit oversized vehicles in some of those lots, regulation of construction and city employee parking and to add parking meters east of the railroad tracks.
The results showed that 50 percent of resident respondents were there to eat or shop during their last trip downtown, with others indicating they went for recreational purposes such as visiting the beach and going to the theater.
Half of those downtown trips were two hours or less, while only 12 percent were four hours or more. Dixon compared this result to the business respondents’ desire to see longer parking times in the downtown area.
“This (result) actually is pretty supportive of shorter time limits,” she said.
Dixon then suggested it could come down to improving signage and informing people where they can park for extended hours, such as the parking garage.
Resident respondents said they would like to see more parking in general and more free parking in downtown Oceanside.