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Ventura Harbor’s Board of Port Commissioners moves forward with parking study

District implements short-term parking plans while evaluating mid-term and long-term strategies.

VENTURA ― Plans to improve parking at Ventura Harbor will continue to be scrutinized as the Port District’s Board of Port Commissioners requested further studies of vehicular management.

Commissioners were originally set to vote on a Parking Management Plan at its Jan. 25 meeting. However commissioners directed the plan to be changed to a Parking Management Study.

Short-term, mid-term and long-term strategies were outlined in the study but without a timeline.  A short-term plan to add more parking spaces is already in place.

Demand for parking at Ventura Harbor is growing because it is “a mixed-use facility,” Brian Pendleton, business operations manager for the Ventura Port District, said.

Ventura Harbor is home to commercial fishing, retail shopping, dining, privately managed marinas, a small marina managed by the district and a public launch ramp. Island Packers also operates its whale watching excursions and Channel Island expeditions out of the harbor.

“The launch ramp is separate from the village parking areas. The board didn’t approve nor did we ask for any changes to those parking rates that apply to the public launch ramp,” Pendleton said.

The initial plan reviewed Harbor Village parking conditions and proposed short-term, mid-term and long-term tactics to provide more efficient parking and to accommodate parking demands.

“During the course of the discussion, we modified the report to be a study [versus a plan],” Pendleton told The Log. “Part of the thinking is that the study…did not specifically identify a particular schedule.”

The Ventura Port District entered into agreements with adjacent marinas to provide additional parking spaces for harbor visitors.

Ventura Isla Marina made available 150 parking spaces for Harbor Village shoppers, employees and overnight parking.

Ventura Marina West II provided 40 parking spaces, which is currently being utilized by Island Packers’ overnight guests.

“The middle range plan, which was the possibility of paid parking, was discussed but came to no conclusion,” Commissioner Jim Friedman stated. “The long range plan, with regard to purchasing more property to build a new parking lot or parking structure, was briefly discussed but certainly was not approved.”

The Board of Port Commissioners did not take action on any paid parking program.

Friedman, who once served as Ventura’s mayor, recalled the outcry from merchants and residents when the city implemented meter parking in the downtown area. However there are practical reasons to have paid parking as infrastructure costs money, Friedman pointed out.

“Approval of the study basically approved the research and analysis done on all these different concepts without approving any one particular concept for the mid- and long-term. The board did not take action to specifically approve a paid parking program. It approved the study that just looks at different concepts,” Pendleton clarified.

Friedman believes the parking at Ventura Harbor is not a critical issue.

“It would be so much easier if this was a seven-day-a-week problem, but it is only a two-day-a-week problem,” Friedman told The Log. “To make a major investment for a two-day-a-week problem makes the solution extremely expensive.”

Parking surveys were emailed to tenants for feedback in 2012 and again in 2015. Workshops and meetings were also held to discuss issues and possible solutions for parking in Ventura Harbor. Harbor Village and a couple adjacent marinas were the focus of these studies.

“What we experienced between the two time frames from 2012 to 2015 was about a 60 percent increase in parking demand for parking spaces in the village. Now the village is predominantly used for visitors going to our retail shops and restaurants,” Pendleton said. “The marina [parking] lot, where our recreational boaters predominantly go, are managed privately and those private marina managers [determine the] parking rates. Those [parking] charges are between the boaters and the private managers directly. Our parking areas [and subsequently the study] relate to the village and beach parking lots.”

A new round of surveys will likely be done this summer to access the impact (if any) the short-term changes have had on parking demands and availability, Pendleton mentioned.

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