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Plan to Remove Santa Barbara Waterfront Parking Lot Kiosks Up For Review

Beachfront lots would have computerized systems for drivers to park and pay; Stearns Wharf kiosk would be replaced

The parking kiosk at Leadbetter Beach may be torn down in coming years and replaced with a computerized parking system.
The parking kiosk at Leadbetter Beach may be torn down in coming years and replaced with a computerized parking system. (Lara Cooper / Noozhawk photo)

Almost all of city of Santa Barbara’s waterfront parking lots could be automated by next summer, allowing motorists to park and pay at an automated system instead of paying at a kiosk with a parking attendant.

The city’s Historic Landmarks Commission will be looking at doing just that. The plan includes demolishing four kiosk stations and rebuilding one. 

Santa Barbara has installed 13 of these automated systems in the past five years in the Harbor West parking lot, at Garden Street and Chase Palm lots, as well as the lots on each side of the Cabrillo Bath House.

On Wednesday, the Historic Landmarks Commission will be asked to sign off on seven more the city plans to add by June 30 of next year.

They may also add another 10 of the systems in the next three to five years if needed, said Brian Bosse, waterfront business manager for Santa Barbara.

“It makes it easier for people to get their parking permits,” he said. “It’s more convenient.”

Because the system is computerized, it makes the accounting easy, he said.

The proposal would remove the kiosk at the Leadbetter Beach parking lot, as well as the ones at Garden Street and Chase Palm Park.

Those last two kiosks are rarely used, since those lots have automated systems already, according to the city. 

Removing the kiosks will help eliminate the confusion for people who think the lot is free because the moving arm is always up, Bosse said.

A fourth kiosk would be replaced at the entrance of Stearns Wharf in the next six to eight months; the existing one is “in total disrepair,” he said.

“Anytime you get a storm, it leaks water everywhere.”

Half of the parking lots are within the jurisdiction of the Historic Landmarks Commission, and half within the Architectural Board of Review, so a joint subcommittee has been reviewing the concept, Bosse said.

Computerized parking systems, like this one at the Harbor West parking lot, could replace all of the waterfront parking lot kiosks, depending on a vote from the Historic Landmarks Commission Wednesday. Click to view larger
Computerized parking systems, like this one at the Harbor West parking lot, could replace all of the waterfront parking lot kiosks, depending on a vote from the Historic Landmarks Commission Wednesday. (Lara Cooper / Noozhawk photo)

ABR members heard the issue on Nov. 16.

Bosse said that years ago, the parking lots had large display boards that would require parking lot customers to fold the dollar bills into a complex origami shape to pay for their parking spaces.  

Parking lot attendants would spend time to open up the board and see what vehicles had paid, a time-consuming process.

“It was a nightmare,” Bosse said.

The new plan would be a “pay and display” program, in which customers choose a parking spot, estimate how long they’ll be there, pay at the automated kiosk, and display the ticket on the dash.

The harbor operation has three full-time parking employees, and all of the others are hourly. Many of the latter are hired seasonally to deal with higher parking volumes during the summer and are mainly high school and community college students, Bosse said.

When the first round of automated systems was installed, it freed up parking employees to do more work such as customer service, “instead of unfolding dollar bills,” he said.

People are more likely to use the automated systems, and “we have seen an increase in revenue,” he added.

The cost for the seven systems was already approved during the capital program budget discussions at City Council.

Each system costs about $11,000, and “they cover their cost pretty quickly,” Bosse said.

The Leadbetter Beach parking lot kiosk will likely be demolished in three to five years, because the city has an agreement to share that lot with Santa Barbara City College.

The city will have to figure out a way to continue sharing the lot while making the automated system work there, he said.

Wednesday’s HLC meeting will begin at 1:30 p.m. in the David Gebhard Public Meeting Room, 630 Garden St. in Santa Barbara.

Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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