Parking, Subport, highlight committee agenda

    Capital City Transit and downtown parking garage

    Juneau, Alaska (KINY) - A proposal for downtown parking, an update on the demolition of the public safety building, and the pending sale of the Subport property were on the agenda of the CBJ Assembly Lands Committee meeting.

    The Marine Parking garage and downtown transit center, along with two parking lots, are managed by the CBJ Parks and Recreation Department.  The Marine garage has 248 spaces and the downtown transit center has 200 spaces.

    The parking program generated $504,500 this year with expenditures at over $461,000.  The major expenses are janitorial $61,536, enforcement and security at $123,640, and facility maintenance $190,800.  Electric costs $57,400.  The garage is pay to park with a contractor enforcing regulations, Bootlegger Security.

    Parks and Recreation Director George Schaaf said the CBJ regulations about parking are kind of backward.

    "If the goal is to have turnover in on-street parking, you have to make it more attractive to park in the garage.  We end up seeing people moving their cars a lot on the street to comply with the law," Schaaf said.

    The marine garage permit costs $20 a week, $50 a month and $700 per year. 

    Improvements to the marine garage are LED lights installed in 2016.  They also opened for the winter season an adjacent parking lot that added 40 spaces for downtown.  Two security officers work the garages for a total of 21 hours per day.  Permits are currently available for purchase.

    Schaaf noted they oversell the permits, selling more than available parking spaces.  The rule is to sell 20-40% more permits that capacity to meet the demand.  Universities, which have vehicles parked there for shorter periods, often oversell permits between 80-100%.

    During the legislative session, the marine garage is oversold by 28% in 2017, 19% in 2018, and 22% this year.  During session the third floor is dedicated to legislative staff at the downtown transit center.

    While the marine park has never been at capacity during session, the transit center is at or near capacity on a daily basis.  Twice there were no parking spaces available, a total of 12 hours combined.

    "We definitely hear about it, we have people tell us they were unable to find a parking spot, I don't doubt that this has happened," he added.

    Schaaf said the two parking garages compliment each other very well.  He suggested the CBJ sell permits that can be used at both garages.  "We think it is a good idea.  We have allowed those drivers who couldn't find a space at the transit center to park at marine and had gotten good feedback."

    Committee Member Chris Mertl suggested the CBJ work out a deal with the legislature to use their parking garage during times the legislature is not in session.  The CBJ currently provides parking free of charge to legislators on the third floor of the parking garages.

    Mertl said the Downtown Business Association has some concerns about parking.  He said the CBJ could work to make downtown more attractive and make parking work better.

    A 2019 customer survey received 190 responses between March 7-31.  The number one reason people park in the parking garages was because they work downtown.   Over 80% said they felt moderately safe or safe in the parking garages.  20% said they had to leave the garage more than five times because they couldn't find a parking spot.  48% supported a permit that allows them to park in both garages.

    "Were not looking to make any major changes to the parking program at this time.  We are not moving in addressing any of the holistic questions of on-street parking," Schaaf added.

    Schaaf said the main problem with parking is capacity. 

    City Manager Rorie Watt gave a report on the state plan to sell the Subport property.  The minimum price is $3.63 million.  Bids will be accepted in August.  Watt told the committee the CBJ must think long and hard about what they might like to do with the property.  One option is a CBJ purchase.  "The most interesting property in Juneau is for sale and I don't think that I'm over exaggerating."

    Watt voiced optimism in the CBJ land use regulations and waterfront plan in making sure a good project develops on the property.  "The main question is should the city bid on the property, and I'm thinking about that a lot.  I don't have a recommendation at this time.  If we see the private sector is going to engage and develop the waterfront in a way that is harmonious with our planning, maybe we need to do nothing.  If there's a concern that won't happen, maybe we need to participate."

    Watt said he is having a number of conversations on the topic.  He noted the CBJ does not have a preferential in this process.  The Mental Health Trust is required to get the highest amount of revenue for the property.  "We are like any other bidder."

    The demolition of the former public safety building at 450 Whittier Street is imminent.  The CBJ  plans to take the building down this spring.  A fence will be installed to keep people out.  The goal is to turn the space into a parking lot with about 60 new parking spaces.  Demolition is expected to be complete on July 26.

    Lands Manager Greg Chaney said he expected the CBJ to lease the additional parking spaces to the state.

    In other actions, Chaney reported they are making progress on title reports on the Douglas Cemeteries to find out who owns the lots and what they want to do about maintenance.  Lands will host an informational meeting about the Pederson Hill development on May 9th at 7 pm at the Mendenhall Valley Library.  They will take public comment on potential methods of disposal of the property. 





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