Q. What problem is the City addressing with this program?

Traffic congestion. Two studies have pointed to drivers “circling” in search of a parking place. An estimated 50% of the business district’s on-street parking is often occupied by local employees. One of the program’s goals is to disincentivize the area’s employees from using these parking spaces, freeing up parking for tourist and resident business patrons so traffic congestion is reduced.

Q. What are the PACT Program goals?

  • Reduce traffic congestion
  • Improve on-street parking available in the business district
  • Reduce the use of on-street parking by the area’s employees
  • Improve pedestrian and bicyclist safety
  • Favorably impact excessive traffic noise in the business district
  • Reduce local tailpipe emissions
  • Minimize tourist/employee parking “spillover” in neighborhoods
  • Entice locals to frequent local businesses

Q. What areas are being considered for paid parking?

The early assessment indicates adding paid parking between Junipero and Monte Verde (East/West boundary). Also, between 5th and 8th (North/South boundary).  Additionally, a permit parking-only buffer is being considered for the area surrounding the paid parking area. NOTE: Exact boundaries will ultimately be based on public input and City Council action.

Q. Where can I see a map of the contemplated parking changes?

See the “Map and Photos” tab or click here.

Q. I see where maximum public input is sought by the City—Where might I be able to provide my input or ask a question?

Throughout the Spring of 2023, there are a variety of public events and other methods to provide your input, get information, or ask questions on this important topic. For details, see the “Public Engagement” tab or click here.

Q. Why not establish a zero-tolerance enforcement effort for the two-hour parking to solve the problem?

Local employees have learned to routinely move their vehicles every two hours to avoid citations.  Because they must find another parking space, this adds to traffic congestion.  Believing the issue was only about parking availability, one local business person declared there was no parking problem because he was able to find a parking place “six times today.”  While this may be true, it actually highlights how traffic congestion was worsened.

Q. Can’t businesses impose restrictions on their employees to help with congestion?

Previous efforts and commitments by business leaders have not been effective. Getting employees to comply with these sorts of rules is difficult at best since business managers cannot really know for sure where a given employee parked before work.

Q. Will residents have to pay for on-street parking?

During the meeting of October 4, 2022, two City Council members expressed a desire to provide free parking for residents of Carmel, even in the business district. Other City leaders have expressed support for free resident parking in the business district.

Q. Technology scares me, where can I see how a paid parking system will work?

In the coming days, we plan to provide a video or interactive process to demonstrate how transactions will occur by phone–stay tuned!

Q. Will visitors be able to pay for their parking to cover multiple days at a time?

Yes, technology allows for a single transaction to cover multiple days. For example, a visitor arriving on Friday can specify they are paying for 3 days of parking to ensure they are legal for Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Once their license plate is “in the system,” they are good to go without needing to reenter their vehicle each time they park in any of the paid parking spaces.

Q. If frustrated visitors constantly circling for parking adds to the problem, why not just build new parking structures?

In the most recent parking study, a careful analysis indicates there is sufficient on-street and surface lot parking to meet our needs (most of the time). By effectively managing the public parking assets, parking availability can be improved. 

Building expensive parking structures may be needed at some point in the future, but making the most of what is available now is a good first step. Given the public’s legitimate concerns about adding large public structures, such an idea could take decades to complete.

Q. Because cars are forced to rotate frequently, doesn’t the 2-hour parking program help local businesses?

Yes, in theory; however, some business leaders have complained about the two-hour limit causing their customers to feel rushed. Add to this, studies have shown that approximately 50% of all available business district 2-hour parking is used by employees.

Q. If paid parking is implemented, will there still be a 2-hour (or 30-minute) limit in the business district?

No. The concept behind the time-limited parking was to discourage employees from parking in the business district. The establishment of paid parking will serve as a more significant disincentive to employees. Visitors or residents who shop, walk, and dine in the area should not feel rushed.

Q. Will free parking still be available?

Yes, there are no plans to change the free parking offered at Sunset Center and Vista Lobos public parking areas. Additionally, as part of the ongoing process, there is consideration to change some unaffected 2-hour parking areas to no-time limit areas to provide for visitors and employees.

Q. Are there designated ADA parking spaces available?

The PACT Program will leave all such parking spaces unchanged. It should be noted: California law provides for free ADA parking in on-street paid parking areas.

Q. A charming and attractive feature of Carmel has been its commitment to avoiding big city trappings—won’t a controlled parking program make us like everyone else and hurt tourism?

No. Frustration over a lack of available parking and an outdated 2-hour limit on parking could be viewed as harmful. Improved parking availability, reduced traffic, less traffic noise, and better air quality are likely to enhance the visitor experience for tourists and locals alike. Further, what is being contemplated is not a “meter-for-every-space” or even kiosks on every block.  Instead, the plan is to minimize the program’s visual impact.

Q. Why did the City reject the parking program attempted in 2014 and what is different now?

There were a few problems with the 2014 program: (1) the size and appearance of the pay stations (kiosks), (2) the small “footprint” of the test area led to nearby streets being adversely impacted, and (3) local residents who were accustomed to free parking did not support paying for parking.

The program being considered now will have virtually no kiosks because technology has improved, allowing for cellphone-based transactions. Further, as contemplated, local residents can enter their license plates into the system and not have to pay for parking. Lastly, spillover impact to nearby areas will be minimized by establishing a residential permit parking program.

Q. While we have heard City staff say the program is not about generating revenue, how much revenue is anticipated and how will these funds be used?

True, revenue generation is not a goal of the program; however, anticipated revenue of about $2.84 million/year will help the City in a number of yet-to-be-determined ways. The City’s 2022 financial report described 5 years of capital projects needing about $13 million dollars in unidentified funding. Financial projections and more details about possible uses for funds can be found on the “financial projection” tab.

Q. How much will parking cost in the business district?

The exact amount has not been determined. The City Council will ultimately decide but there have been some indications the cost should be reasonably consistent with our neighboring jurisdictions (approximately $2/hour).

Q. Can I use cash or a credit card to pay for parking?

While not yet finalized, there may be a very small number of payment kiosks needed to help visitors who do not want to use cell phones for such transactions. There are 3 main ideas:

  1. Have pay stations located at Vista Lobos and Sunset Center so visitors can make payments to get their license plate added to the system, then drive to their destination within the business district. 
  2. Include a very small number of kiosks within the business district.
  3. If interested, local businesses could provide a “pay for your parking here” service. Like those in the accommodation business, such businesses could enter the license plate on behalf of their customers after receiving payment.

Q. What enforcement hours are planned for paid parking?

The precise hours have not been established by City Council. Alignment with the business district’s peak activities may indicate a start time of 10 a.m. and an end time of 8 p.m.  If $2/hour is established, this would mean an entire day would cost $20 dollars.

Q. As it relates to paid parking, how will businesses be able to make their VIP guest’s visits as seamless as possible?

Because enforcement will be based on license plate numbers, the parking system being considered will allow businesses to enter their guest’s license plates into the system on their behalf.

For those in the accommodation industry, this can even be accomplished for multiple days. The system could provide businesses the flexibility to pay for their guest or have the guest pay as part of their room charges.

Q. Since some people will seek out and find nearby free parking areas, how will the City protect nearby streets from major “spillover” parking?

The current plan includes establishing a 2-block permit parking-only “buffer” around the business district. Undoubtedly, tweaks to expand or contract the permit areas will be needed to refine the program and protect Carmel neighborhoods from unintended impacts.

Q. I have a question that is not represented in the FAQs—Where might I submit a question to the City?

You can submit your questions or comments on the PACT Program comments and questions form by navigating to the Public Engagement page. The questions are typically answered within 2 business days.