Paid public parking for San Juan Capistrano was first instituted in 2019 at the privately owned Franciscan Plaza parking structure next to the downtown movie theater. Since then, paid parking has expanded to lots in front of Trevor’s at the Tracks and behind Swallow’s Inn, which are partially owned by the city or completely by a private owner.
Some residents may be wondering how much has been collected in revenue since then and where those funds go. The Capistrano Dispatch checked with City Manager Ben Siegel on that information.
“Since implementation of paid parking, the City’s share of parking revenues is approximately $1.3 million,” Siegel said in an email. “This revenue is deposited in the Parking Fund and used to pay for a variety of operating expenses, including maintenance of all City-owned downtown parking facilities.”
Parking revenue has also allowed for enhanced landscaping, more frequent janitorial service at the Los Rios Park and downtown train depot restrooms, increased maintenance and pressure-washing during busy summer and holiday periods, as well as additional safety lighting throughout Los Rios Park, the plaza and parking lot.
Revenues are shared with the private owners of the lots.
“Paid parking was requested by the owner of the (Franciscan Plaza parking) structure, as well as several adjacent restaurant and business owners, to increase parking availability for customers, as the free parking spaces were continuously occupied by vehicles owned by employees of downtown businesses,” Siegel said. “For similar reasons, paid parking was subsequently expanded to the Multi-Modal Lot in Spring 2021, and the Mission Promenade/Swallow’s Inn and Love-Mitchell parking lots in Fall 2021.”
Implementing paid parking had the “immediate effect” of increasing parking availability in these “desirable” downtown lots, while allowing employees or visitors who choose not to pay for parking to utilize the free parking at the City-owned Los Rios Park and Ramos Street lots, as well as the Camino Real Playhouse and Esslinger Building lots, according to Siegel.
“The parking revenue has also been used for City capital projects that create new parking, including expansion of the Ramos Street Parking Lot, which added over 150 new parking spaces in close proximity to the Los Rios District and downtown,” he said. “The City will soon be initiating a project to improve Arguello Way, the pedestrian pathway between the Multi-Modal Lot and Camino Capistrano.”
The Arguello Way project will “increase accessibility, add lighting, and beautify this heavily used pathway consistent with the appearance of Verdugo Street,” Siegel added.
“Staff anticipates using parking revenues to augment other funding sources for this project,” he said.