Sandy studies its nonexistent parking problem
Comprehensive study gives City Council direction and a strategic plan to move ahead
The city of Sandy's perceived parking problem has been analyzed, and Associate Planner Kelly O'Neill says it doesn't exist.
This is the message O'Neill delivered to the City Council at its meeting Tuesday, Jan. 17. The Post obtained a copy of the comprehensive parking analysis and noted more than one-half of the respondents said there is a parking problem in Sandy, while only one in three said parking is not a problem.
The parking management study, a 62-page document, was presented to councilors and described by O'Neill as the fulfillment of one of the council's goals during this biennium.
On 13 days in August and September 2011, O'Neill said, parking was counted 15 times around the downtown core - from Ten Eyck to Bluff roads, between the boulevards and from one-half block to 1½ blocks north of Proctor or south of Pioneer.
An example of the under-use of some parking areas is the half-block just south of Pioneer between Strauss and Bruns. That block has 156 on-street parking spaces and 169 off-street spaces, but only 9 percent of those spaces were being used during the survey.
In contrast, only a block east of these unused spaces is another block between Shelley and Meinig and bounded by the boulevards. In this block, 41 percent of the on-street parking was used, while more than 75 percent of the off-street parking was occupied.
Even though local residents commented on this parking survey with statements such as 'parking gets worse every year,' 'parking is not properly monitored or planned' and 'public parking lots need better signage,' the parking management study proves most of the negative comments wrong.
O'Neill says the results of counting parking spaces and vehicles every day of the week but Sunday and at different times between 8:20 a.m. and 7:15 p.m. shows that on an average day only 29 percent of the available parking is being used.
That usage varied from 21 percent of the available street parking to 34 percent of the available off-street parking.
To find all of those empty parking spaces, O'Neill said, people just need to walk another block or two to their destination.
Although the so-called lack-of-parking idea was dispelled, other issues were uncovered.
For example, there are some yellow curbs that shouldn't be yellow; some signage is either missing or confusing; and there is little parking enforcement for time-limited parking.
Among some other recommendations to the council is the need to form a Downtown Parking Advisory Committee, which would include some staff members, a chamber of commerce representative, downtown business owners, city councilors, a code enforcement officer and the library director.
This committee could have members rotate in and out, but it would continue to monitor parking and watch the city implement study recommendations.
The study says Sandy also needs a downtown parking district and a parking fund to help pay for future improvements.
The city also should, according to the study, make a significant improvement in signage - both with existing and new signs.
Those solutions and others were described in the study for the next six months. Beyond that time, the study includes a list of goals to be accomplished within the next two years as well as a few strategies for the longer term.