The City of Williamsburg issued a release Oct. 19 detailing plans to implement a new parking plan for the downtown area. The City will move forward with the first phase of its plan immediately to address parking shortages.
As a prime destination for both travelers and students at the College of William and Mary, downtown Williamsburg must accommodate many people. According to a 2016 study conducted by Walker Parking Consultants, however, the area has an inadequate number of available parking spaces in highly frequented spots.
The survey suggested nine recommendations to alleviate this parking problem. The Williamsburg City Council plans to execute them in phases over the course of approximately four years.
The plan will only impact the downtown Williamsburg area.
One proposed solution is increased parking enforcement.
The council anticipates that this will lead to better monitoring of spaces.
The benefit to increased public parking enforcement is that students and employees using public parking will enjoy greater convenience as more spaces are available more frequently,” Assistant City Manager Andrew Trivette said in an email.
“The benefit to increased public parking enforcement is that students and employees using public parking will enjoy greater convenience as more spaces are available more frequently,” Assistant City Manager Andrew Trivette said in an email.
Trivette cited the success of similar parking changes in other cities, such as San Francisco, where the improved turnover of spaces resulting from similar policies has corresponded to more shoppers and higher revenues for the businesses in the area.
The other recommendations that City staff members will begin to implement include creating shared parking agreements for private lots, consolidating management of the parking system, increasing parking fines, adding parking enforcement staff, using electronic citations methods, providing a payment application, utilizing a parking facility maintenance fund and creating a safety escort program. These initiatives will be implemented in phases.
According to Trivette, the Williamsburg community hopes to experience a comparable boost in prosperity for local businesses, many of which are concentrated in the downtown area. By promoting an influx of visitors and shoppers, the council remains optimistic that it can contribute to the growth of downtown retailers.
The year one phase of the plan includes implementing sensors that will be used to monitor parking in timed areas.
The sensors will be connected to an application that allows users to view parking availability.
During this phase, no changes will be made to the cost of parking downtown.
Plans for year two include, if necessary, flipping fees so that visitors pay for on-street rather than off-street parking.
This change will force visitors to pay for the more convenient parking spots. With this, the City would start charging $1 per hour for on-street parking.
Parking in the City’s downtown area has been a concern since the mid-1990’s,” City Communications Specialist Lee Ann Hartmann said in a press release. “A consultant driven review was completed in 1995 and a subsequent staff review [was completed] in 2002. In 2016, the City contracted with Walker Parking Consultants to complete a thorough review of parking in the downtown area.”
“Parking in the City’s downtown area has been a concern since the mid-1990’s,” City Communications Specialist Lee Ann Hartmann said in a press release. “A consultant driven review was completed in 1995 and a subsequent staff review [was completed] in 2002. In 2016, the City contracted with Walker Parking Consultants to complete a thorough review of parking in the downtown area.”
If after year two there are still issues with parking, the City Council could choose to increase rates in high demand spaces and decrease rates in low demand spaces.
According to Hartmann, this system would allow those who want door-front parking to find spots, but would also provide bargain spots for long-term parkers.
Some students who rely on cars as their primary means of transportation said they are concerned the downtown changes will affect their own parking situation.
Many students report facing challenges with not only on-campus parking, but also off-campus parking, particularly near their residences.
“If Williamsburg is limiting its options even further, then that’s making it even harder for students to find parking anywhere,” Annalise Ajmani ’18 said.
Trivette said that he remains positive regarding the public response to the plan and speed with which changes will improve the current parking situation.
“I feel it will be positive given the lack of dependence on paid parking changes,” Trivette said in an email. “I am optimistic that the year 1 strategies will be sufficient to provide the experience we are striving for with our parking system. … That is a very positive parking program.”