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City pulls proposal for paid parking in Village (updated)

For the time being, Claremont’s plan for paid parking in the Village is done.

The city pulled the idea from consideration after online feedback elicited nearly 1,500 mostly negative responses from residents, businesses and visitors, according to a news release posted to the city’s website Tuesday.

The decision to rescind the proposal for paid parking was announced during Monday night’s Future Financial Opportunities Committee (FFOC), the same committee where the plan was first unveiled by City Manager Tara Schultz and Assistant City Manager Colin Tudor on October 22.

The proposal, which would also have included utilizing rideshare services such as Lyft as well as merchant parking zones, could have generated up to $3 million a year for the city. Ms. Schultz told the COURIER in a previous article that the city was “really, really early in the process” and welcomed feedback from residents.

City spokesperson Bevin Handel told the COURIER in an email that while the paid parking aspect of the plan has been abandoned, the city would still be looking at the other parts of the plan going forward. The city will also look at suggestions made by residents in their feedback.

“Paid parking was considered because it had the potential for raising funds to put into the maintenance of the Village as well as providing a source of funding for capital projects,” Ms. Handel wrote. “Without the revenue from paid parking, the city is limited in what it can consider.”

Those projects could have included improved parking lots, sidewalks, trash enclosures, landscaping and additional parking officers that “all cost money that the city does not have.

“Moving forward, we will consider parking options that fit our available resources,” Ms. Handel wrote.

Almost immediately after the plan was first made public, a majority of Claremonters came out against it. A group calling themselves Transparent Claremont created a Change.org petition against the plan that garnered more than 800 signatures before the plan was pulled.

Aundré Johnson of Transparent Claremont lauded the city for listening to residents’ concerns.

“I think it was a good idea that they did it,” he said. “Everybody feels like it was a good gesture on the city’s part in listening to the community.”

Part of the reason why the city made the proposal in the first place was to curb congestion in the Village, something Mr. Johnson doesn’t feel is an issue. He says that whenever he drives into the Village at various points throughout the day, he has always found a parking spot.

“I just moved from LA, and there’s congestion there,” he said. “There’s none in Claremont as far as I’ve seen.”

One thing he suggested the city do is ramp up enforcement of existing parking laws. He told the COURIER that he recently parked his car in a two-hour zone over the time limit as a test to see if he would receive a citation. Mr. Johnson said he didn’t even get “chalked,” when parking enforcement officers mark the back tire of a car that is about to get ticketed.

“At least try that and see if that helps alleviate the parking problem, if there is a parking problem,” he said.

Ms. Handel said the city is still moving forward on other aspects of the plan, which includes the possible utilization of scooters and bikeshare programs, as well as rideshre services, merchant parking and time-restricted parking.

But scooters and bikeshares, such as Bird scooters or Ofo bikes, aren’t things Mr. Johnson sees as viable solutions. He said his old neighborhood in Los Angeles was “polluted” with scooters, and was concerned about scooters riding around pedestrians on sidewalks and between cars on streets.

In February 2018, Pomona College, then later Pitzer College, partnered with Ofo to provide free bicycle use to students and faculty to more easily travel through the Colleges and around town. By October, Ofo, a Chinese-based company, ended its contract and picked up the bright yellow bikes from the Claremont Colleges.

Ms. Handel said the overwhelming response from residents made it clear that the majority of the community were against paid parking in the Village.

“We want the community to know we heard their comments and concerns and we responded by removing the paid parking from consideration,” she said. “We will be taking their other suggestions and moving forward with reviewing these options.”

—Matthew Bramlett

news@claremont-courier.com