An ongoing assessment of parking in downtown Half Moon Bay has revealed vacant spaces are largely plentiful, even during peak times and at the busiest areas. 

Downtown, which stretches from the Main Street Bridge to Correas Street and, for this study, included various nearby parking lots, is home to 636 parking spaces. According to a staff report, at least 10% of the parking spaces along any of the surveyed streets and within downtown parking lots are available, even during peak periods.   

“I think this data is somewhat reassuring in that it shows overall no need for more parking to be created because within a five-minute walk of any location downtown there essentially is always parking that’s less than 50% occupied,” Ryan Anderson, a summer intern for the city who helped complete the study, said at a City Council meeting earlier this month. “It seems like we have a sufficient supply, but for future city projects, it could be useful to have this [data] to know the amount we really have.”

The study was launched because of two city-led efforts that will likely increase parking demand in the future: an expansion of Carter Park’s performance space and potential zoning amendments to encourage multi-family and mixed-use development downtown. The Planning Commission is currently studying zoning amendments and parking requirements will be an important component of whatever is ultimately proposed, according to the report.

For the study, parking counts were completed in August during five peak times, including the weekday lunch rush, Friday evening and Saturday afternoon when the influx of people entering the city is at its peak.

When parking counts were performed on Saturday afternoon, the farmers’ market in the Shoreline Shopping Center parking lot and another event were occurring. Streets were still just 77% occupied and parking lots were 51% occupied then. 

“Even during this peak period for Half Moon Bay’s downtown, there was still adequate parking resources available,” the study concluded. 

On Monday at noon, total street parking was 65% occupied while all available parking lots were only 37% occupied. While parking was concentrated nearest State Route 92, parking availability was evenly dispersed throughout downtown, meaning that any location in the district has street parking that is less than 70% occupied within one block. 

Friday at noon and during the evening saw similar occupancy rates as Monday afternoon. 

Community Development Director Jill Ekas noted that the study documenting occupancy rates at parking lots could help the city negotiate shared parking arrangements.

The counts were completed once per location and in August in part because visitor traffic is relatively high then and school is back in session toward the end of the month. 

Moving forward, other peak times will be studied, including the Summer’s End Music Festival, which occurs at Carter Park Sept. 21.

During a Planning Commission meeting earlier this month, a resident and commissioner also suggested Sunday mornings be studied because of church service as well as weekend evenings.

“It’s one set of data to start with, but it’s a very good start,” said Commissioner Steve Ruddock. 

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