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City leaders discuss parking options for downtown Turlock
downtown parking pic

The Turlock City Council held a joint meeting Tuesday with the Turlock Planning Commission to go over some of the details of a proposed new Downtown Turlock parking plan.

With Turlock’s population having risen five fold since the 1970s, the city’s steady growth has brought numerous challenges relating to traffic flow, congestion and safety for transportation and parking, especially in the downtown area.

The joint meeting was held to inform city leaders of the current parking supply, demand and use of said parking facilities, alternatives to the existing infrastructure, as well as plans for future expansion and solutions to current issues with Turlock’s parking program.

TJKM Transportation Consultants has been in the process of data collection and analysis for the past six months in order to develop a new parking plan. The consultants found that Turlock’s parking problems was not a result of inadequate parking spaces, but rather in underutilization of public lots and the enforcement of parking space time limits.

TJKM found 3.872 parking spaces in downtown, with an estimated 3,200 in untimed slots. Weekday surveys of the timed spots found that 138 of the spaces designated for two hour parking were occupied by the same vehicles for more than six hours.

The consultants reported that parking on Main Street, Olive Avenue, Center Street and Broadway, which is the core of the downtown area, has low turnover and high duration rates of parking. But outside of the core there are plenty of parking options, however they are under used because many people don’t know about them.

As part of their research, TJKM concluded that approximately 30 percent of people parking in Turlock were unaware of city-owned public parking lots. Additionally, nearly 50 percent were aware of some but not all 12 public lots in the downtown area.

“Getting the information out to make people aware of the available public lots is very valuable,” said Senior Planner Katie Quintero. “The Council is always open to innovative ideas.”

Possible proposed solutions for this problem were the inclusion of way finding signs to be hung from street light posts or along walkways marking public parking lots as well as an informational menu being added to the City of Turlock’s Website.

Another issue causing parking or traffic congestion issues in the downtown area was the lack of enforcement of parking limit violations. TJKM recommended the city dedicate staff to enforcing parking limitations and that it use revenue from citations to keep enforcement efforts ongoing. The proposed plan also calls to reduce the parking time maximums from four to two hours as well as include tire chalking and other automated parking systems to encourage compliance.

Along with these key areas of change, TJKM recommended plans that include employee parking permit parking passes for downtown and physical improvements of city streets and sidewalks.

“The Council is always open to innovative ideas,” said Quintero. “If we’re going to put this plan into place it has to be a working document to make changes as necessary to meet demands of the available parking downtown.”  

The proposal will go back to the Planning Commission for revisions and eventually will go to the City Council for consideration.