Dan Zack

Dan Zack

published on June 21, 2022 - 12:59 PM
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A former City of Fresno planner has been working on parking for the past few years in search of a solution.

Dan Zack, principal planner for Zack Urban Solutions and former assistant director of the Planning and Development Department, created a map of downtown looking at where diagonal parking could increase inventory.

He broke the streets down into a dozen types, including those favoring cars, bikes and public space — with wide sidewalks and artwork.

Related story: Downtown businesses say parking woes could drive them away

What he found were many streets that don’t fit into any category. It was on those streets he found diagonal parking could as much as double the amount of street stalls.

Many of Downtown Fresno’s alleyways provide access to businesses and parking lots without the need for curb cuts, but in the 1960s and ‘70s, that trend started to disappear and curb cuts rose in popularity.

At a price of $2,000 a stall, the cost to convert to diagonal parking is significantly lower than the $20,000 to $40,000 cost to build a stall in a parking garage.

Assistant City Manager Gregory Barfield said diagonal parking is something the City is considering in some areas.

Sierra Smith, owner of Chromatic Studios, a hair salon in Downtown Fresno, said parking has only gotten worse. While she doesn’t love the idea of diagonal parking, “I’ll take what I can get,” she said.

Zack said for Fresno, the amount of parking is not a problem. From an aerial view, compared to similarly sized cities such as Oakland or Pittsburg, Fresno has more land dedicated to parking lots.

“We have an alarming amount of land that should be occupied by housing, bars and restaurants, stores, offices and parks that is instead occupied by asphalt,” Zack said.

The challenge is managing the supply, he added.

Parking experts have begun approaching the problem using economics. With smart meters now in use by the City of Fresno, prices can be adjusted based on demand.

Zack cites planning gurus who place ideal occupancy for streets and lots at 85%. On a slow day, meters could go off, while on a busier day, prices could go up.

“If parking is getting gobbled up, then prices are too low,” said Zack.

One advantage to the City owning garages and street parking is that pricing can be coordinated and managed. While street-level parking is cheaper to maintain, it is also more desirable. Pricing street-level parking higher than garage parking gets cars off the street and into garages.

Zack, who took the lead on the Fulton Street Specific Plan in the last two years of the project, said parking wasn’t the No. 1 issue people were talking about. The conversation surrounded how to get people to Downtown.

Proper management can get to that 85% target, said Zack.

“When the City controls the whole supply like that, then you have the ability to be strategic,” Zack said.

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