Downtown Riverside Parking

RIVERSIDE: Is downtown parking a problem?

City officials are studying whether more parking is needed and what to do about it.

From 6/22/16


Visitors pack downtown Riverside for the 23rd annual Festival of Lights switch-on ceremony in November. Riverside officials are studying downtown parking to see whether more is needed and if so, where it should be.

Anyone who’s served jury duty in Riverside or visited the Mission Inn’s Festival of Lights probably has a complaint about downtown parking.

Now the city wants to hear those complaints as it launches a parking study to determine whether downtown has enough parking spaces, if they’re in the right places and how much the city should charge for them.

Riverside owns roughly 4,300 downtown parking spaces, many of which are in 15 lots and four public garages. A common complaint is that parking isn’t always where people need it.

“More and more folks are coming to downtown Riverside, and everyone expects to be able to park right in front of where the facility is,” Riverside Art Museum Executive Director Drew Oberjuerge said at a Monday, June 20, meeting about parking concerns.

Others, including downtown business owners, say there should be more free parking, perhaps with time limits, to encourage shoppers and visitors.

Many downtown lots and street spaces were free for years, but the city began widespread use of parking meters around 2006, said City Councilman Mike Gardner, who represents downtown. He thinks officials wanted to raise money to build more parking facilities, and to encourage government workers to use garages rather than street parking.

“There are still those who say, ‘I refuse to go downtown and pay for parking,’” Gardner said.

The 50 or so residents and business owners who turned out for Monday’s meeting had similar concerns and suggestions, including better security for parking garages and lots, more signs to help visitors find parking, and more parking in specific places, like near the art museum and Riverside Municipal Auditorium. Public parking in the area is limited.

Whatever the complaints are now, they’re likely to get worse unless the city makes changes.

Resident Bill Gardner said downtown parking has been “nibbled away” by projects such as the Hyatt Place hotel, which was built on a former parking lot. And more development is coming, such as a possible 6,000-seat events arena that might be built on the lot next to the Riverside Convention Center.

Over the long term, city officials plan to sell off some surface lots for development because “the property’s too valuable to use for (parking),” Councilman Gardner said, though they would replace lost spaces with garages.

Riverside County is considering building a garage as a joint project with the city, but county officials otherwise have no plans for major new parking facilities, said John Field, Riverside County Supervisor John Tavaglione’s chief of staff.

At a second public meeting, tentatively planned for mid-July, parking consultant Julie Dixon will share recent data on where and when parking is most used. Though several people said Monday they think there’s not enough parking downtown, Dixon said the demand “is actually much lower than (people’s) perception.”

The city is seeking opinions in an online survey, and officials may consider solutions such as shuttles from farther-away parking during special events and more online tools to help people find, reserve and pay for parking.

Riverside is looking at current and future downtown parking needs.

What: The city is studying whether it has enough parking and if it’s in the right places.

Why: New facilities are being built on former parking lots and more people visit events and attractions such as the Festival of Lights and Lunar Fest.

How: Opinions are being sought online at A consultant will look at parking data and make recommendations, with a public meeting set for mid-July.

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