Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Making It Really "Work"

Live, Work, Play.

That was one of the marketing slogans that original sold me on the Santiago Street Lofts.

Three years later, I Live here, I (sometimes) Work here, and if you're a reader of this blog, you sure as hell know I Play here.

The "Live, Work, Play" slogan dreams big for this community, but has still yet to be fully realized. With the Renaissance Plan on the back burner until election season is over, and any developments that were headed our way postponed until the next real estate cycle, I figured in the mean time, the Work element was something that could use some fine tuning.

As someone who runs a part-time business out of their store front, I've witnessed firsthand how difficult it is to do so. On several occasions, my clients were unable to find a suitable parking space nearby. With gas prices on the rise, even the parking lot at the train depot can be packed with increased ridership. Also, it doesn't help that the city of Santa Ana previously designated ALL parking around the Santiago Street Lofts as No Parking/Stopping.

Currently, the city is looking the other direction and not enforcing the No Parking on Poinsettia Street until construction is completed here at the lofts. But once the construction crew is out at the end of the year, the plan was to make that entire block No Parking/Stopping.

And why are there so many streets designated “No Parking/Stopping” around the lofts? For years, the Logan neighborhood has battled irresponsible overflow parking from some of the neighboring businesses, which prompted the city to act with their usual kill a fly with a shotgun method by restricting parking on entire blocks.

While this method has prevented trash and tow trucks from taking up residence on nearby public streets, it has also put a stranglehold on many who've decided to run a business from within their unit.

This dilemma prompted me back in January (2008) to approach the city of Santa Ana with a plan to install parking meters around the Santiago Street Lofts–allowing guests and clients easy access during normal business hours to the businesses residing in the lofts. These meters would only be enforced Monday through Friday, 9AM-6PM.

After speaking with countless individuals and getting the runaround several times over, I called Scott Kutner of the Community Development Agency for Santa Ana and he was able to put me in touch with Frank Orellana, a Senior Engineer with the city of Santa Ana's Public Works department. Frank had just recently been assigned to identify options to improve on-street parking in our area due to upcoming developments with the Santa Ana Street Car plan.

Though we're currently not in an area that allows (is zoned) for metered parking, Frank and I worked out a plan that will now allow non-metered 1-hour parking in the green areas, indicated in the graphic below. This 1-hour rule will be in effect Monday through Friday from 9AM-6PM.

But why metered/1- hour parking at all you ask? That's a great question. The plan is to prevent long-term parking on the loft-side of the street from adjacent businesses, as well as overflow from the depot parking lot–a problem that has crept into our own "visitor parking" stalls here at the lofts. The goal is to create circulation, and not stunt businesses. Not to mention, preventing any future issues with abandoned cars near the lofts.

If things go well, Frank said there’s a good possibility that the 1-hour limit can be increased to a maximum of two hours. The ultimate goal of this pet project is achieve metered parking around the lofts, but with the city of Santa Ana, it's always baby steps. But hey, it's a start.

The debate on whether or not parking should be allowed on Civic Center Drive (loft side) is still going on being that the "Go-Local" streetcar scheduled for completion in a few years would just end up taking any allotted spaces away from that side of the street.

In the mean time, these added parking spaces should help out not only the daytime businesses that are blossoming in our community, but nighttime activities including our monthly Art Walk, which, by the way, is this Saturday.


Anonymous said...

First of all, thank you so much for taking time to address things like this that really matter to us here ... it's much appreciated.

Of note to me is that there is NO parking on Santiago Street after 6pm, and nearly none during the day. When I bought here, one of the reasons I was okay with this location was that there was parking out in front. The city unceremoniously took this away a few months ago.

(In fact, a friend parked there at 1am for literally 5 minutes to use the bathroom. When we came out, the a**&^le officer writing him a $55 ticket said "Now, what makes you think you can park here?!?!"

To which I replied "Well, maybe because I could park here a month ago and it was okay then? Or maybe because the No Parking was only for bus reasons, and the bus doesn't run at 1am? Or maybe it's because the sign is hidden by that tree?" He wasn't amused.)

Anyway, I know you're working on it, and it's much appreciated. Thanks!

Unknown said...

Well done Ben.

That's leadership...

Spencer Hoo said...

good work ben!

i think that for the mean time if they allow parking on civic center drive, it would benefit the community. when the local street-car project gets going, then of course that gets priority.

my opinion is the more spaces we can get on "our side" of the street, the better. the new phase only adds 3 visitor spaces, which doesnt help too much.

do you know if they are going to be putting signs in or painting the curbs to indicate that parking is allowed?

funny thing is that lennar sales office said that both sides of poinsettia were allowed to be parked on, and this was over a month ago.....maybe city already made a decision back then?


Ben Dayhoe said...

I hear your frustration.

The city of Santa Ana has a good way of pulling the rug out from underneath the residents.

The city needs to work on communicating, not only within city hall, but to the residents as well.

Urban Messiah,
Thank you. I've got some really great neighbors to keep me on my toes.

I agree with you about CCD, but know that when working with the city, they will always be hesitant to give something that they know they will have to take back later.

There will be signs posted on the green areas of the graphic, though CCD is still being don't give up hope for parking on that street just yet.

As for what was shown in the sales office, I'm guessing they had access to an early draft of the Parking Management Plan (which is what I've been working to adjust since the beginning of the year) and updated their site plan based upon that.

Either that, or Lennar was basing their graphic upon the original parking allowances before we came into the picture.

Personally, I still feel that metered parking is a solution the city needs to look into when the RSP comes back on the table.

If anyone can offer an opposing view to metered parking, I'm all ears. But my position is that we need to run the city like a business and capitalize financially at every reasonable opportunity.

The only questionable downside I see is how long will it take to offset the cost of the meters and the installation cost.

Slaymetender said...

I don't see meters being viable yet. Meters are a money making venture for the city first and foremost. With this comes enforcement too, so they'd have to bring in enough to cover the cost of enforcement. Now to do that, they'd need lots of commercial traffic for the area, and until we do have more commercial traffic at our lofts and surrounding areas, it just won't happen. I'd instead go for the two hour spots.

Anonymous said...

Forget coin meters stuck every 10 feet down the sidewalk for little vandals to tag all over.

Install one of these state of the art bad boys

Anonymous said...

PS- true leadership indeed!

Good job ben, keep up the good work!

Paint_Her said...

Ben, This parking situation is awful. The city is making parking worse for everyone; the depot, SSL residents,guests, clients...This is crazy - I think everyone should get together and start a petition to reverse the parking restrictions. Thank you Ben for getting the ball rolling.

Ben Dayhoe said...

The parking plan for the Santiago Lofts was terrible to begin with–hence the original request for metered parking.

When dealing with the City, we've got to take baby steps.

Getting the 1-hour parking approved was the foot in the door, and growing to a two-hour allowance is definitely the next step.

As I stated before, metered parking is the ultimate goal.

Be careful for what you ask for: "reversing the parking restriction" could be interpreted as let's go back to NO PARKING at all as the city originally planned.

I encourage anyone who wants metered parking to petition for it. I tried that two years ago and got no where. Perhaps now that the city is hurting for funds they'll take another look at the idea.

And should the duration be lifted all together, what's to stop the:

lofts that are 100% commercial, the surrounding businesses, and/or the Metrolink/Amtrak riders from taking up those spaces all day.

Though the hourly limitations might seem to cramp some businesses here at the lofts, I can assure you that the alternatives (other than metered) are far worse.

Anonymous said...

i am for no stopping anytime on all curbs around santiago street lofts.

I LIVE HERE (like my bed is inside my loft.) and I really don't care about anyone's clients this is not an Irvine business park.

Stephen Manning said...

how is the city making parking at santiago street lofts awful?

1) "Visitor" parking is used as "inconsiderate resident" parking.

2) If I had to go out on a limb... Paint_Her's place of employment is probably the loft in our community that violates this municipal code: Sec. 41-1302. Prohibition against use of required parking spaces for other purposes.

3) Santiago Street Lofts have a small portion of their total square footage designed for commercial use on the first floor and parking was planned based on the business traffic of THAT square footage. If lofts are being used entirely for business which generates more parking demand, that's not anyone's problem but the business occupying the loft.