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?

IMPORTANT UPDATE:  Visit our Latest News page for urgent information published March 17, 2019!
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 and spread the word! 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 10AM to 10PM. 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?

The obvious answer is to collect tax revenue.  But Council and staff have repeatedly denied that this is their motivation and they say the money is insignificant. Whether we believe them or not, this begs the question:  If revenue is the only positive guaranteed outcome of the plan and they don’t even want the money, why are we even considering installing meters which will permanently change and endanger the character, accessibility, charm, uniqueness, and small businesses of our downtown?!?

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?

The Davis Chamber of Commerce came out against paid parking in a strongly worded letter and with excellent speeches at the City Council meeting on March 5th.  Unfortunately, the Davis Downtown Business Association (DDBA) is a more complicated issue.  Despite its name, the DDBA is not a representative body of downtown businesses – particularly in this case.  The DDBA is not voluntary.  All businesses downtown are required to join and pay dues with their business license.  This funding is controlled by the city and is renewed each year by vote of City Council.  Hence, the DDBA is an extension of the city.  It is paid by City Council (with money invested from downtown businesses), and exists at their whim.  This explains the apparent contradiction of a Downtown Business Association being in favor of paid parking.  But under intense pressure, the DDBA recently took a poll of its membership, and while still not being fully transparent about the results, they had to admit that at least 77% (we expect the actual number is at least 90% if all were surveyed) of their membership is against the paid parking plan.  The DDBA has still not revoked its support but now everyone knows that it was wrong to support it in the first place and that by its own admission it does so against the will of the vast majority of its members.  We do hope they will do what is right in representing downtown businesses by coming forward and admitting their mistake while publicly changing their stance.

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.