Council passes parking fee for Old Town Newhall

Cars park along Main Street in Newhall on Friday, Nov. 24, 2017. City Council will hold a public hearing Tuesday regarding parking in Newhall. Nikolas Samuels/The Signal
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New and expanding property owners in Old Town Newhall will have to pay a fee for any additional parking they want to provide their customers, the City Council decided Tuesday.

The fee passed on the consent calendar without any public comment or response from the council.

Through the approved “parking-in-lieu” fee, the owners will see a $5,855.10 fee per spot to compensate for the limited parking on the south end of Main Street, which applies to new construction or any expansion for existing businesses, going forward.

The decision to adopt the fee was chosen over paid parking for shoppers. When business and property owners were surveyed about the topic over the summer, 41 percent voted in favor of paid parking and 40 percent voted for the fee, out of more than 70 property and business owners surveyed.

The fee will be one-time only for new property owners with 1,500 or more square feet of retail space and will increase by that amount for every added 350 square feet.

A payment plan option is available for property owners to pay for up to five years.

All funds collected through the fee will go toward future permanent parking in Old Town Newhall.

From a previous story: Parking perspectives pose problems in Newhall

The city delivered a survey to 75 business and property owners in the area and got 71 responses, ranging from “Meter parking for during the business hours is not a bad idea” to “Paid parking will only hurt businesses!!!!!!”

The range of businesses on Newhall’s Main Street range from the gently used nonprofit clothing store for the Assistance League to the popular gastropub-style restaurant Newhall Refinery, and the opinions reflected the diversity.

“The top option from the survey supports the parking-in-lieu fee,” Jason Crawford, City Planning, Marketing and Economic Development Manager said. “This means that only those (property owners or businesses) that add brand new square footage are responsible for providing parking (or are paying the fee) for that new square footage. Any businesses moving into existing buildings can do so with no additional parking requirements or fees.”

This option was proposed at a Aug. 22 City Council meeting, but did not have resounding support. City staff ultimately recommended offering a payment plan to help businesses pay the fee.

Though the Assistance League has six spots behind the store, there isn’t enough room for all of the workers who work at one time, and it doesn’t fit any customers, according to Assistance League volunteer Pat Sullivan. Often, many of the employees have resorted to parking at the Old Town Newhall Library.

“There is definitely not enough parking,” Sullivan said. “The parking is horrific.”

A new parking structure is underway on Main Street to help with the parking shortage, but the city does not have funding for a second.

Way Station Coffee Shop’s General Manager Eric Leeser hopes the structure under construction will help alleviate some of the problems.

When filling out the survey, Leeser said he made clear that paid parking was not a good idea and believes the parking in lieu fee will be burdensome.

“I’m waiting to see how things work out after the structure opens,” Leeser said. “It’s really been a struggle for customers. There’s certainly more business and traffic in Old Town Newhall.”

The new structure is much needed, according to Newhall Refinery Owner Simon Mee. During especially busy seasons and holidays, Mee has opted to do valet parking for his customers.

Though, even without it, Mee said the inconvenience of parking on the street a few blocks away and walking should not deter community members from going to Old Town Newhall businesses.

“If there is a business you want to support,” Mee said. “you’ll find a way of getting to it.”

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