It’s doing so in response to feedback from merchants and property owners who say there is a problem with parking — they just can’t all agree what that problem is.
“We don’t have a parking shortage,” Dino Margaros, president of the Tracy City Center Association, said. “We have a parking utilization problem, and they are two different things.”
Margaros points to a 2007 parking analysis commissioned by the city of Tracy that found 1,730 public and private parking spots in the downtown area bordered by 11th Street to the north and Sixth Street to the south.
He said some people — many of them downtown merchants and employees — are parking all day long and blocking parking turnover.
“The concept is really simple: The longer you are going to stay, the further you need to park out,” Margaros said. “Park in the back, walk a half block to your office.”
So TCCA asked the police department to enforce more rigorously the two-hour and 30-minute parking zones. The association sent a letter to its members along Central Avenue and 10th Street on May 27, and enforcement is already underway.
“I’m totally against that. Why couldn’t they do four-hour parking or something,” Colleen Elson, salon manager at Versailles Salon and Day Spa, said.
Elson believes the current time limits are too restrictive. She said many clients visiting Versailles, 1010 Central Ave., stay far longer than two hours and shouldn’t have to worry about getting a ticket when parking is limited to begin with.
“A lot of our clientele are here for sometimes four hours, depending upon what kind of service you are doing,” she said. “We do have public parking in the back, and there are probably 30 spots. There are times when they (customers) can’t even get a spot in our back parking lot.”
Elson said that leaves few options for her store and its customers. “Obviously we’re not going to be able to get more available parking on Central and 10th. Obviously there’s no place to go.”
Pharmacist Harold Reich — at 39 W. 10th St. — is an advocate for more police enforcement.
“One of my chief complaints is that they haven’t enforced parking downtown enough,” Reich said.
Reich said parking durations should be varied downtown to reflect the needs of the different types of shops.
“There’s a mix of businesses downtown. Some of them look for longer-term parking, and a lot of us — me, the banks, the bakery — only need a 20-minute thing. People are coming in, getting their stuff and they’re gone,” he said.
Reich, who has run Reich’s Pharmacy for decades, said this is not a new problem.
“We’re still having a problem with merchants and employees long-term parking,” he said. “Enforcement will help take care of that.”
Tracy police Capt. Mark Duxbury hopes information, not enforcement, might be enough to keep spaces downtown open for customers.
“We would prefer to educate the public first and try and get their cooperation,” Duxbury said. “We don’t want to go down there and create a situation where people don’t want to frequent the businesses. Quite the opposite. We want to make sure people are going in, doing their business in the downtown area, and once they’re done, they are leaving.”
Duxbury said that officers would try to issue as few of the $40 tickets — the fine for violating the parking time limit — as possible and give drivers warnings if they park too long.
Margaros said that most business owners were thrilled with the prospect of increased police patrols.
“If you want the shoppable, walkable — if you want the days to be extended, you want the restaurants downtown — there’s consequences to all of this,” he said, referring to more traffic turnover. “The customer should have the easiest time parking. They’re not the ones that should be parking the furthest away.”
The city accepts public comments and feedback about any parking or traffic issues around town. People should call the Development Services Department at 831-6400.
• Contact Michael Ellis Langley at email@example.com or 830-4231.