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Millbrae City Council explores parking fee implementation and garage construction

Millbrae, California – By 2025, Millbrae might start charging for parking downtown, following the City Council’s show of interest in setting parking fees between $1 and $2 per hour. They also talked about the possibility of building a parking garage owned by the city during their meeting on February 13.

Although the council did not decide on the exact areas where the parking fees would apply or how much to charge, they wanted more details and to hear from local businesses and people living in the area. A suggestion from the consultancy firm Kimley Horn included most of downtown Millbrae and part of El Camino Real.

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Mayor Anders Fung believes that charging for parking could greatly benefit the downtown area. Speaking to The Daily Journal, He mentioned that the money from parking fees could support important projects, like improving business districts and adding parking garages, which would help with parking overall.

Most of the council members were eager to start charging for parking as soon as they could, mentioning plans could get underway by 2025 and last for 25 years. Consultant Mike Iswalt from Kimley Horn estimated the cost of setting up the parking system to be between $600,000 and $900,000, with yearly costs between $1.2 million and $2 million. The expected income from the parking fees, at rates of $1 to $2 per hour, could be between $1.5 million and $3 million.

Vice Mayor Maurice Goodman emphasized the importance of making sure the parking fees would cover the costs of the new system, and also suggested setting aside some extra money.

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There was some hesitation about the idea of building a parking garage on Magnolia Avenue, so the city staff will consider other places for it. Councilmember Ann Schneider specifically said she didn’t want the garage on Magnolia but was open to exploring other city-owned sites for it.

City Manager Tom Williams talked about the broader benefits of a city-owned garage, suggesting it could be part of a bigger project that includes housing and commercial spaces, seeing it as a chance to use city property to meet multiple needs, including public parking, in the future.

A $20 million long-term parking structure could be built up to four stories with the potential for 320 spaces and would generate higher parking revenue when operating, as well as providing opportunities for ground floor retail, event space and electric vehicle charging, Iswalt said.

The City Council looked at different ways to manage parking, focusing on how it might affect local shops and the idea of giving more parking permits to people living close to downtown. This would help them keep their parking spots if more cars start parking in their areas due to the new parking fees.

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“We should consider talking to residents, and what’s our residents’ appetite for expanding that boundary,” Goodman said to the outlet about potentially expanding residential permitting to protect parking spot availability.

Councilmember Gina Papan emphasized the need to hear from people living in the downtown area and on nearby streets, highlighting the importance of understanding the parking needs of those living in apartments downtown. She mentioned the importance of gathering more information to make informed decisions and mentioned that keeping parking fees reasonable, like $1 or $2 an hour, would prevent them from becoming as expensive as San Francisco.

Councilmember Schneider stressed that the council must protect the parking interests of residents living on streets close to downtown, such as Hermosa, Magnolia, Silva, and Hemlock avenues, who might face the most issues with cars parking in their areas.

The council also talked about possibly making it easier for short visits by cars and delivery vehicles, with ideas like better signs, longer times for loading zones, more parking enforcement, and even using technology to read license plates automatically.

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During the public comments, a community member named Nathan Chan proposed having different parking rates at different times of the day. He argued that parking demand changes throughout the day and suggested adjusting parking fees accordingly to reflect those variations.

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