With a new parking garage in downtown Burlingame nearing completion, officials agreed the entirety of the facility should be available to those looking to park for extended terms.

The Burlingame City Council unanimously agreed Tuesday, Feb. 16, that long-term parking should be allowed throughout the new garage under construction behind Howard Avenue, between Highland and Lorton avenues.

The decision solves a lingering question over whether officials should allow stays as long as 10 hours throughout the entire garage, or reserve the upper levels for long-term parking while allowing short-term stays in the lower levels.

Agreeing with a recommendation from the Traffic, Safety and Parking Commission, officials felt the move would align with an effort to reserve most of spaces close to the core of downtown for short-term parking and outer areas for longer stays.

The decision was also backed by members of the Downtown Business Improvement District, who favored allowing long-term parking in the garage to accommodate employees of nearby companies.

Short-term stays will be allowed in the lot, but the meters can run for as long as 10 hours. The hybrid option would have capped the allowable stay on the lower two levels at two hours, while permitting longer stays on the top three floors.

For his part, Vice Mayor Ricardo Ortiz supported the split approach as a means of granting patrons of downtown businesses a greater opportunity to stay for only short stints.

To address that interest, officials agreed to look into converting long-term spaces on surrounding streets and surface lots into short-term spaces.

The five-story garage is slated to offer 368 spaces, of which 23 will be electric vehicle charging stations and eight will be located on the ground floor for those with disabled person placards.

The garage is expected to be completed in a matter of weeks. It will replace a former long-term surface parking lot that featured 105 spaces, as well as the 100 spaces formerly housed on Lot F where an affordable housing development will be constructed.

Beyond the stay time allowed, councilmembers also considered amending the hourly rates paid to park in the garage. Currently, the long-term parking rate is $3 per day or $60 per month for employee parking permits.

While officials expressed some interest in adjusting the rates, they ultimately agreed that it may be wiser to wait until conditions recover from the pandemic and a more accurate assessment of the downtown parking demand is possible.

The former surface lot generated about $170,000 in parking revenue annually and officials anticipate the garage will bring in more, but that full amount will be difficult assess until restrictions are lifted.

For her part, Councilwoman Emily Beach said she favored moving ahead with the direction preferred by her colleagues with hopes that a comprehensive downtown parking study can be completed when the time is right.

Meanwhile, Mayor Ann O’Brien Keighran expressed optimism that the new garage will address frustrations by those living in surrounding neighborhoods that downtown employees take up their parking spaces.

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