Frequently Asked Questions

We are organizing to advocate for downtown.

1. What is downtowndavis.org?

We are a loose association of small businesses and others who are invested financially and emotionally in downtown Davis that have joined together to advocate for the benefit of downtown Davis. We formed in particular to stop paid parking from being put in throughout downtown. All of us believe that paid parking will drive customers away from the downtown we have all put so much effort into making welcoming. We work every day to draw in customers and a parking tax specific to downtown is certain to work against us. We have polled our patrons and visitors and they are almost all against paid parking. Council should do what is best for downtown and the people who work, shop and visit here and rescind their decision to put meters on the streets and lots in the business district.

2. What is happening?

On November 7, 2017, Davis City Council voted to implement paid parking throughout downtown. They are now moving to install parking meters on city streets and in public lots from D to H and 1st to 4th streets. If you don’t want this to happen, join us in petitioning Council to reconsider their decisionJoin us and spread the word! You can give your opinion in our Parking Survey. If Council is made aware of how much resistance there is to paid parking they will have to reconsider.

Paid parking drives traffic away.
Occupancy when parking is free.

3. What are the details of Council's plan?

Parking spaces on downtown streets and in public lots will be metered. Payment will be required from 8AM to 8PM. Rates have not been disclosed, but wherever they begin we expect them to rise just as every other tax does. The metered time and area of taxation could be expanded as well. Implementation is imminent but without an exact date. Obviously, the meters will never leave once installed so there is an immediacy to our cause.

4. Why does Council want this?

Tax money, obviously. They are looking at only one side, the city coffers, while ignoring the will of the people and the health of downtown. They claim some of the money will be reinvested in bettering downtown, but since they already believe that taking out free parking and putting in meters “betters” downtown, what they are actually saying is that the taxes collected will go to an expansion of the meters to other streets, more enforcement and more ticketing.

5. Will this solve the parking problem?

NOT ONE NEW SPACE IS BEING CREATED and some are even being removed, so the only way paid parking will make space for those willing to pay is by driving people away from coming to downtown. We want people to find downtown Davis inviting, and consider the city’s “solution” to put in more paid parking worse than any problem we may already have.

6. What is the projected impact?

It is impossible to tell how many people will be driven away by paid parking. Certainly a tax on one area will drive traffic to other areas that are not taxed. Customers who want to avoid the tax will drive to big box and mall stores where there are large private lots or do online or elsewhere what they used to do downtown. People will visit downtown less and for shorter periods of time. Adjacent residential neighborhoods will have to absorb cars looking for free parking. These are certainties but are hard to quantify exactly. It is also difficult to say how much the losses from diverted and dissuaded traffic will hurt downtown businesses, but the empty storefronts are testimony that times are hard for many and that downtown is fragile. A blow like this will cause more closings and make the empty spaces harder to fill. If we weren’t sure of the danger we wouldn’t be working so hard to foster awareness and change the Council’s minds.

Occupancy when parking paid.
Downtown has enough problems already.

7. Are there precedents?

When the E Street lot went paid in 2008, it was almost entirely empty when it used to be nearly full. To this day it has not regained the use it had when it was free. Paid parking is a failed experiment that is proven to drive people away.

8. What about the Downtown Business Association and the Chamber of Commerce?

Neither the DDBA (Downtown Davis Business Association) or the Chamber advocate solely for downtown. In the Chamber’s case their membership comes from everywhere—the whole town, the state, the world. The Davis Chamber includes downtown businesses that will lose to paid parking but also peripheral stores and landowners that stand to gain, so it is natural for them to take a middle ground. DDBA, however, should be the voice of downtown but there is a significant conflict of interest. DDBA is not a voluntary group of downtown businesspersons, but an administrative body implemented and maintained by Council. No downtown business has any choice to join or quit DDBA—membership is legislated and mandatory dues are collected by the city. DDBA exists on a charter that is renewed annually by Council, so if DDBA angered the city, Council could simply not renew the charter and DDBA would cease to exist. So basic self preservation says that when City Council acts in direct opposition to downtown Davis’ interests, DDBA would feel pressure to side with the Council against its own powerless membership. To reinforce this, the vote to put in paid parking downtown that DDBA did not speak against came the same Council session as the vote to renew DDBA charter. We at downtowndavis.org are trying to make sure DDBA, Chamber and Council hear the voice and opinions of downtown business owners, residents of Davis, and visitors to downtown, and that they represent us as they should.

9. Where can I park downtown today?

The secret spot is the lot on 4th and G above the movie theater. It has hundreds of open spaces on the upper levels and you can find parking there any time of day for free for now. But even this underutilized space will go paid as soon as the meters go in.

10. What is the solution to the parking problem?

We are only saying that a tax on parking downtown is NOT a solution. And though there is no way to guarantee anyone a space on the exact block they want to park, better management of the existing space would help a great deal. Downtown neither wants nor needs paid parking.

There are spaces if you know where to look.
Drivers driven off will go elsewhere and not use alternate transportation.

11. How can I contribute?

Don’t confuse us with the city—we don’t want your money. But you can talk to people, spread the word and make sure Council has to make this decision out in the open with everyone watching and is unable to claim ignorance of paid parking’s unpopularity.  Visit out Get Involved page to express your opinion and support.

12. Will paid parking encourage alternate transportation?

It would be nice if everybody took the bus, biked, or walked instead of driving so much, but experience and data say that’s not going to happen. If people are driven away from downtown by paid parking, they will just drive to other areas of the city (or other cities) to find free parking.