Creating revenue seemed to be the main concern for city council members during their study session Monday addressing the future use of downtown parking lots under the , which was passed in October.
The members met to discuss potential uses and development of the spaces, how to gather revenue from the lots and how to obtain proposals from developers.
"When you look at our downtown parking lots, what do you envision?" Community Development Director Bill Meeker asked council members.
Many ideas are up for consideration, including more affordable housing for seniors looking to downsize and young people looking for starter homes, mixed-use developments, a boutique hotel and a community center. The council was asked to prioritize these options, though members said they were flexible depending upon the proposals developers offer.
What was clear, however, was the financial importance of the buildings.
"We see a key interest in using these assets to generate some additional revenue," said City Manager, Jim Nantell.
Council members agreed upon the importance of considering what types of buildings—commercial, residential or community-based—make the most sense in which parking lot locations and have previously discussed such options. Additionally, they stressed the importance of creating new parking spots to account for those lost to buildings, most likely through a parking structure.
The location for a parking structure discussed was city lot J between Park Road, Primrose Road, Burlingame Avenue and Howard Avenue. However, the location of a structure here caused disagreement among council members.
"I've always disagreed with that," said Council Member Cathy Baylock. "You want a structure south of Howard just because it's not in the middle of the community."
Other members said a centralized parking structure is necessary, as people will not walk multiple blocks from Burlingame Avenue to their cars.
However, the underlying theme of the meeting was, regardless of what lot gets developed first or what it becomes, revenue for the city is the number one priority.
"We can't do any other bulletpoint unless we have revenue," said Vice Mayor Jerry Deal, referring to Downtown Specific Plan elements such as creating open spaces and streetscapes.
The council agreed that in order to produce revenue, they had to be open to multiple concepts of financing from developers, such as sales, long term leases and partial upfront payments. Only through revenue is the plan for downtown, which is more than four years in the making, viable.
"Downtown development is critical to this city's budget and its quality of life," said Council Member Michael Brownrigg. "Let's get the plan working."