Karen Wilson-Fontaine

I have watched with growing alarm as the city council approves downtown residential housing with inadequate parking.  As a Real Estate Broker with property management experience, I have observed the change in the composition of families living in multi-family residential buildings over the last several years.  25 years ago, a multi-family residential tenant family typically consisted of two adults and children with one or two cars and an occasional visitor.  Two parking spaces per unit were adequate for the needs of the tenants and their guests.   

Today’s multi-family residents are much more diverse: 4 or more co-habiting adults each with multiple visitors, two cohabiting families each with visitors; older single adults with multiple children and grandchildren visiting, extended families with even more family members as visitors.  Today, the same property with 2 parking spaces per unit has parking disputes because some residents do not understand why they cannot have 4 parked cars on site, since there are 4 adults paying rent, and why their guests have to park on the street.  Two parking spaces per unit are no longer adequate.

Clearly, if two parking spaces per unit are not adequate for today’s residents, the Downtown Specific Plan with its 230 parking spaces required for Eden Housing’s 130 units is also inadequate, even if its 230 spaces are fully required.  Not only do they not have at least 260 parking spaces (2 per unit), they are only requiring Eden to provide 117 parking spaces.  That is not even ONE parking space per unit!  This level of parking is absolutely damaging to downtown businesses as well as the prospective tenants of Eden Housing who will be forced to look for off-site parking spaces on the streets and walk home.  Businesses will lose customers who cannot find a parking space and not gain business from all of the new “low income” residents.  By definition “low income” means not a lot of extra money for dinners and entertainment.

I would strongly suggest that no more new multi-family residential buildings be approved or built with inadequate parking requirements until we are able to access the effect on downtown parking that the multiple buildings currently under construction are finished and occupied.