Potential Advisory Measure Concerning Downtown Parking

Potential Advisory Measure(s) for November 2018 Election re: the regulation of parking in Downtown Bolinas

 A. “Shall the County of Marin enact an ordinance prohibiting parking between 2:00 a.m. and 6:00 a.m. on Brighton Avenue, Park Avenue and Wharf Road in downtown Bolinas, except for vehicles displaying a resident parking permit?”

B. “Shall the County of Marin enact a resolution pursuant to Marin County Ordinance 3662 to include Brighton Avenue, Park Avenue and Wharf Road in downtown Bolinas as County roads on which there shall be no overnight parking of vehicles, except for automobiles, motorcycles and pickups, between the hours of 11:00 p.m. and 5:00 a.m.?”

Background:

Bolinas has grappled for many years with the parking and traffic issues in our downtown area created by the increasing number of visitors, particularly on weekends and holidays.  The downtown roads (Brighton Avenue, Wharf Road and Park Avenue, and to some extent Terrace Avenue and Olema-Bolinas Road) are all County-maintained roads, so the County of Marin is responsible for regulating and enforcing parking and traffic there.  That said, the County has deferred to the Bolinas community’s preference to craft a “local solution” to these problems.  To that end, the BCPUD Board of Directors appointed several committees over the years and a Downtown Parking & Traffic Plan (“Plan”) was developed and approved by the community in an advisory vote in 2006.  However, the Plan as drafted cannot be comprehensively implemented due, among other things, to the unavailability of County staff resources to pursue the necessary Coastal Permit to implement the Plan, as well as legal constraints posed by the Coastal Act.  BCPUD staff met with County and Coastal Commission staff about the Plan on several occasions and most recently it was agreed that community efforts at this juncture should be on enforcing existing parking regulations and/or modifying those regulations as needed (specific to Bolinas) and then assess whether additional regulation as contemplated by the Plan is still needed/desired.

In the meantime, the parking and traffic problems downtown have only worsened, particularly in the last few years with the increasing presence of oversized and other vehicles parked for very long periods of time (weeks and months without moving) and with trailers and other receptacles located on the downtown streets (again, for weeks and months), essentially functioning as long-term storage containers.  The vehicles and storage containers parked in such a long-term manner significantly reduce the already inadequate number of on-street parking spaces downtown.  Thus, when visitors arrive, the preexisting parking and traffic problems are even worse than they were before so many spaces were eliminated.  In an effort to address these most recent problems and ensure that a local solution is developed, Supervisor Rodoni requested that the BCPUD Board provide input.  The BCPUD Board appointed a “Vehicle Habitation” committee in 2017 and that committee developed a set of recommendations, which the BCPUD Board passed on to Supervisor Rodoni in early 2018.  Supervisor Rodoni responded to the recommendations in a letter dated May 17, 2018.  Specifically, in response to the committee’s recommendation that the 72-Hour Parking rule be amended/enforced in downtown Bolinas, Supervisor Rodoni recommended an alternative approach of establishing no overnight parking zones (to be implemented pursuant to the County’s existing parking ordinance for unincorporated Marin within the next year), as more fully explained below.

Supervisor Rodoni’s May 17, 2018 “no overnight parking” proposal for downtown Bolinas:

Supervisor Dennis Rodoni proposed the implementation of a “no overnight parking zone” from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. on Brighton and Park Avenues on one side of the street, and a resident permit only parking zone on the other side of those streets during the same hours.   This zone could be established relatively quickly (within the next year) because there is an existing County “enabling ordinance” which specifies the types of overnight parking zones that can be established in unincorporated Marin during those hours; the County Board of Supervisors simply needs to pass a resolution applying one or more of those parking restrictions to specifically-named County streets and roads.  Marin County Ordinance 3662Supervisor Rodoni said his proposal would present the Sheriff’s Office with a clear, easily enforceable law (a key point because without enforcement, parking regulations are next to meaningless).

Supervisor Rodoni presented this proposal and responded to questions and concerns from the community at the BCPUD Board of Directors’ regular monthly meeting on June 20, 2018.  Ultimately, it was agreed that the Bolinas community should have the opportunity to weigh in on the regulation of parking downtown (given that the downtown is an asset of and heavily used by the entire community), whether the proposed regulation takes the form of the Supervisor’s proposal, or something else.  The BCPUD Board decided to hold a special meeting the following week to more fully consider Supervisor Rodoni’s proposal.

BCPUD Board of Directors’ June 28, 2018 counter-proposal to regulate parking in downtown Bolinas:

On June 28, 2018, the BCPUD Board held a special meeting to consider public comment and discuss Supervisor Rodoni’s proposal.  The directors concurred that it is unlikely that the community would support this proposal because prohibiting parking entirely on one side of Brighton and one side of Park between 11:00 p.m. and 5:00 a.m. every night would severely and negatively impact Brighton Avenue residents due to the lack of sufficient off-street parking at their homes.  The Board also found that many residents (as well as visitors to town) patronage Smiley’s and the Community Center well past 11 p.m. and often need to park on Brighton Avenue, so completely prohibiting parking on one side of the street would be unpopular to a great number of residents (not just the Brighton residents) as well as to businesses on Wharf.  Finally, the Board agreed with comments submitted by residents that the proposal might move long-term parkers/containers to Wharf Road, thereby simply shifting a problem to another part of downtown.

After considerable discussion, the BCPUD Board formulated a counter-proposal to prohibit parking between 2:00 a.m. and 6:00 a.m. on Brighton Avenue, Park Avenue and Wharf Road except for vehicles displaying a resident parking permit.   The Board envisioned that all 94924 residents would be eligible for permits (not just those living downtown) and that visitor-serving businesses and downtown homeowners would be able to obtain temporary permits for their guests.  The Board members suggested a placard type of permit such as a handicap parking permit that hangs on the rearview mirror rather than a sticker.  (Note: Supervisor Rodoni’s proposal contemplates that only residents of Brighton and Park Avenues would be eligible for the resident parking permits and the permits themselves would be stickers affixed to the affected vehicles.)  BCPUD staff conveyed the Board’s counter-proposal to Supervisor Rodoni the same day.

Supervisor Rodoni’s response to the BCPUD Board’s counter-proposal:

BCPUD staff and two directors conferred with Supervisor Rodoni to consider County staff’s initial feedback about the BCPUD Board’s counter-proposal and County staff expressed the following concerns:

First, the hours proposed by the BCPUD Board for no overnight parking (i.e., 2:00 a.m. to 6:00 a.m.) are not consistent with the County’s enabling ordinance, which was enacted to establish consistent guidelines for the regulation of overnight parking throughout the County.  That ordinance specifies the applicable “overnight” timeframe as from 11:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m.  As such, County staff said it may require 2-3 years to move forward with the BCPUD’s counter-proposal (because the County would need to conduct certain studies and assessments to justify a different overnight parking period for Bolinas and enact an entirely new ordinance) rather than 1 year timeframe anticipated for an approach tied to the existing enabling ordinance.

Second, the County expressed concern that the resident parking permit approach in the BCPUD’s counter-proposal is overly broad and potentially illegal if it results in the preferential distribution of resident parking permits.  County planners also voiced concern about the Coastal Commission staff’s potential reaction to extending a resident parking permit area into the “commercial core” of Bolinas (meaning to Wharf Road).  A senior County planner emphasized that “a lot of work” would be required of the County to be able to persuade the Coastal Commission staff of the workability of such a proposal under the Coastal Act.

Third, the Sheriff’s Office advised that resident parking permits must be stickers affixed to cars and not placards that can be passed around.  The Sheriff also had significant enforcement concerns about a resident parking permit system that would grant permits to all 94924 residents rather than only those living on Brighton and Park Avenues.

In light of County staff’s concerns, Supervisor Rodoni urged the BCPUD and community members to carefully evaluate the options available to regulate overnight parking in the County’s “enabling ordinance” and, if Bolinas does not like his May 17th proposal to prohibit overnight parking on one side of Brighton/Park and resident-only on the other side, to consider a second counter-proposal consistent with the enabling ordinance for a possible Advisory Ballot measure.  Supervisor Rodoni specifically suggested that Bolinas consider Section III of the enabling ordinance, which provides for “No overnight parking of vehicles, except for automobiles, motorcycles and pickups” between the hours of 11:00 p.m. and 5:00 a.m.”, for Brighton, Park and Wharf, as this would address two of the most pressing problems: (1) the presence of permanent “storage containers” and (2) the presence of oversized vehicles parked for extended periods, both of which effectively eliminate much-needed off-street parking in downtown Bolinas.

BCPUD Board of Directors Regular Meeting – July 18, 2018:

At its next regularly scheduled meeting on July 18, 2018 (at the Public Meeting Room at the Bolinas Fire Protection District, 100 Mesa Road, Bolinas), the BCPUD Board of Directors will consider the following two alternatives for potential advisory measure(s) for the November 6, 2018 election:

A. “Shall the County of Marin enact an ordinance prohibiting parking between 2:00 a.m. and 6:00 a.m. on Brighton Avenue, Park Avenue and Wharf Road in downtown Bolinas, except for vehicles displaying a resident parking permit?” (Note: this is consistent with the BCPUD Board’s June 28th “counter-proposal” explained above).

B. “Shall the County of Marin enact a resolution pursuant to Marin County Ordinance 3662 to include Brighton Avenue, Park Avenue and Wharf Road in downtown Bolinas as County roads on which there shall be no overnight parking of vehicles, except for automobiles, motorcycles and pickups, between the hours of 11:00 p.m. and 5:00 a.m.?” (Note: this is consistent with Supervisor Rodoni’s more recent suggestion explained above.)

The public is urged to attend this important meeting to provide input and participate in this important discussion.  Comments also may be submitted via email to bcpud@bcpud.org.