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City of Santa Monica: Integrated Parking and Land Use Policy Progress

Like many cities, Santa Monica has ambitious goals when it comes to parking policy:

  • To better balance demand and supply across various off-street and on-street inventories

  • Reduce congestion and CO2 emissions

  • Encourage more sustainable land use patterns

The approach:

  • Enable Dynamic Parking Rates to Expand On-Street Policy Scope: Move away from static rates towards a dynamic pricing approach based on scenario modeling and historical parking data, to improve the balance between off-street and on-street parking

  • Leverage Real-Time Parking Data in Travel Decision Making: Reduce traffic congestion through ease of proper routing and way finding for parking and in turn, reduce CO2 emissions by reducing the time drivers spend on the road for a parking space

  • Utilize Data to Support Sustainable Land Use Decisions: Reduce CO2 emissions through rate changes, and increase the development of open spaces and mixed-use projects to encourage passive and active recreation

Dynamic Parking Rates to Expand On-Street Policy Scope

In July 2017 and July 2018, the City implemented two rounds of parking rate changes across fifteen off-street parking facilities around downtown. Changes were based on a series of scenario modeling using historical parking data; both had proven successful through a before-and-after analysis on key parking performance measures.

With data at the individual facility level, the City was able to identify the nuanced parking behaviors at different parts of downtown.

As a result, instead of adopting a “one size fits all” model or a static rate change schedule with fixed price intervals, the City tailored the rate changes to each facility’s unique demand patterns in each round of rate changes.

Following the rate changes, the City is now well-positioned to expand the policy scope to include on-street parking and beach parking. By better utilizing off-street parking spaces, the City aims to free up more curb spaces for alternative uses, including but not limited to, walking, micro-mobility, dedicated transit services, TNC pick-ups and drop-offs, delivery, and landscaping.

“Smarking’s data analytics platform and services have been critical in our parking policy development process. We use Smarking to track and evaluate every step of the policy change. The ability to understand historical trends and future policy impacts with a wealth of high-resolution data empowers us to keep pace in a rapidly changing mobility ecosystem.”
- Michael Towler, Senior Administrative Analyst, City of Santa Monica

Leverage Real-Time Parking Data to Reduce Congestion & CO2 Emissions

According to the renowned UCLA Research Professor, Donald Shoup, 30% of downtown traffic congestion is due to drivers cruising for a parking spot.

One of the solutions is to reduce traffic congestion through ease of proper routing and way finding for parking and in turn, reduce CO2 emissions by reducing the time drivers spend on the road for a parking space.

Through the robust stream of data flowing into Smarking, the team was able to gather real-time occupancy information and display the spaces available directly onto physical digital signage on a parking structure.

The long-term benefits of this parking guidance solution may include: an increase in customer satisfaction, reduction of traffic congestion, and increase in overall revenue through increased access to the structure.

Additionally, The City of Santa Monica established a Climate Action and Adaptation Plan that aims to reduce total carbon emissions 929,693 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalents (mtCO2e), equivalent to 4% reduction per year by 2030.

The City planned to achieve this goal via state policies, zero net carbon buildings, zero waste, and sustainable mobility solutions.Smarking performed a TOTO analysis comparing the scenarios of the actual changes in revenue and transactions post-rate change: current condition - table 1, assume no rate change - table 2.

When the two scenarios were compared to each other, the positive impact on carbon emissions by rate changes was undeniable: a difference in 44,471 less transactions and an uplift of $3,423,078 in revenue were due to the rate change.

The annualized CO2 emissions in metric tons due to the rate change allowed for an additional 303.75 metric tons - amounting to 0.33% of the annual reduction goal at 4%.

Utilize Data to Support Sustainable Land Use Decisions

The City recognized that placing a minimum parking requirement on new developments was not economically or environmentally feasible, as there are already an oversupply of parking spaces and an inefficient distribution of them. Therefore, in 2017, the City lifted the requirement on new developments.

The City was interested in determining the viability of repurposing the Civic Lot for mixed-use projects (community soccer field, affordable housing, daycare, etc.) and understanding how and where demand would shift towards given the loss in parking spaces. To help the City achieve sustainability goals, Smarking performed an analysis to determine the shift in demand and the change in CO2 emissions from repurposing Civic Lot to a mixed-use center.

It was determined that 53% of the demand from Civic Lot shifted to Civic Structure, and the remaining demand may have shifted to alternate, more sustainable modes of transportation.

Today, the repurposed Civic Center Lot became the Civic Center Multipurpose Sports Field, serving the community as a space to play soccer, rugby, and lacrosse. Moreover, the space now serves as a commemory for the historical African American Belmar neighborhood.

Concluding Thoughts & Looking Ahead

Overall, the City leveraged Smarking’s BI Platform to decrease traffic congestion, jump start new sustainability-based measures and enable dynamic parking rates to balance on-street and off-street occupancy.

The need for agility is now greater than ever, and access to real-time data is the starting point. Centralized data and real-time access to the entire parking portfolio allows cities to enable a data-first approach when introducing new programs and policies, enable projections, and measure the performance along the way.

Check out our presentation at IPMI's Smart Cities Pavilion, we'll be answering questions live.


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