After a city council request in August to continue work to improve the parking situation in the city center, an update on renovations and improvements to parking facilities showed a cleaner and safer system, as the city has increased its efforts in terms of personnel, security and maintenance.
Director of Public Works Ara Maloyan has revealed updates to downtown parking structures in recent months, including Lots A, B and C, which immediately surround the City Place shopping center. Security was extended to 24 hours a day, seven days a week instead of the previous model from Monday to Friday which only covered working hours.
Additionally, new signage, updated payment kiosks, and landscaping helped improve the exterior aesthetics of the structures, while increased staffing and cleaning schedules helped keep the interior clean.
The old pressure washing program provided for a quarterly cleaning, but has since been increased to once a month.
“This increased cleaning program is in line with the cleaning practices of the aquarium parking structure also managed by Central Parking,” said Maloyan.
Maloyan added that Central Parking, the city’s downtown lot management company, has added a “parking ambassador” to help with the customer experience, including arranging for escorting customers to their cars. during the evening hours.
“This Ambassador adds another pair of eyes and ears to the garage and looks after customers throughout the day,” said Maloyan. “The Ambassador assists customers with any issues they may have with the garage and is in frequent contact with Security at Platt, who patrols the garages.
The updates and improvements were initiated by a request for an initial study by council members in November 2014. First District Councilor Lena Gonzalez was joined by co-author Vice Mayor Suja Lowenthal , to request the study and subsequent follow-up, delivered Tuesday evening.
Gonzalez applauded efforts to improve the downtown parking experience, including the recent incorporation of the city’s website to include information on lot locations, parking rates, and access to purchase. monthly permits. She said the city should always focus on marketing and making it known that downtown parking does exist.
“As a First city councilor and working in the neighborhood for six years, people will say ‘there is no parking in the city center’,” Gonzalez said. “I keep telling them that there is parking in the city center, you just have to pay for it in some cases.”
Funding for the improvements comes from a variety of sources, including excess meter revenue from newly installed smart meters downtown. City Council voted in December 2014 to allocate any excess meter revenue for the first two years to capital improvement projects for downtown parking improvements. So far, these revenues have provided approximately $ 70,000 in funds to pay for improvements, half of which would have been spent to pay for improvements already made.
It is estimated that the revenue generated by the parking garages themselves will offset the increased security and maintenance costs, but future capital investments may require the city council to allocate further funds to help finance them. Future lot improvements, including the inclusion of LED lighting, cameras, surface repairs and additional paint, are expected to cost over $ 500,000 per parking structure.
The city has partnered with key facility users like Molina Heathcare and others like Downtown Long Beach Associates (DLBA) to assess future needs in the improvement process. DLBA President and CEO Kraig Kojian said that over the past decade the dynamics of the parking situation have grown from just enough space to now ensuring an appropriate experience for the customer. Like Gonzalez, Kojian said the completed work is a good start, but more can be done to improve parking downtown.
“Vice Mayor, you might remember we moved this conversation to downtown parking from a lack of inventory 10 years ago, to now it’s more about the customer experience. ”Said Kojian. “It’s about marketing the asset that we have, it’s the first and last experience a customer can have when entering our downtown area. And for us, it is very, very important.