The Santa Barbara City Council expanded the parking permit area on the Mesa to La Marina at Tuesday’s meeting. 

This decision comes after a long-time struggle between residents and students from Santa Barbara City College who park in neighborhoods due to the limited parking on campus.

The Mesa currently has an existing parking permit program, designated in a location called Area M

This program is aimed to benefit residents, who are given permits to park on the street during peak hours. The parking program first began in this area in 1991 to address the impacts from student parking.

While SBCC is in prime location in regards to beautiful views and vicinity to downtown Santa Barbara, parking on campus is very limited and those who do not get a spot are forced to find space elsewhere — namely neighborhoods in the Mesa.

SBCC has tried to combat this issue by providing students with free MTD Bus transportation, carpool-only parking spaces and bike racks, but the number of vehicles still pose a problem.

The Santa Barbara City Council approved expanding the Mesa neighborhood permit parking program.

The Santa Barbara City Council approved expanding the Mesa neighborhood permit parking program.  (Santa Barbara photo)

Residents of La Marina expressed interest in wanting to be included in the permit parking area and as a result, Santa Barbara Downtown Parking conducted studies and public outreach in areas surrounding the existing program boundaries.

“This (parking permit) program is resident driven,” said Sarah Clark, a parking resource specialist with Santa Barbara Downtown Parking.

 “We do not initiate the expansion of a parking permit area, but rather we wait for the residents to tell us that is something they want.” 

The city counted vehicles on streets during March 14 to 18 to determine the impact. In addition, they sought out resident feedback by creating a website, mailing notices and holding a public neighborhood meeting. Their findings showed that the 400-500 block of La Marina was one of the most impacted areas, meaning there was 80-percent occupancy during peak hours.

“There are several criteria we consider when deciding whether to establish or expand a parking permit area,” Clark explained.

“These are whether or not residents want or need more parking. We also look at the availability of on-street parking for residents and whether there are other users that impact parking. We look at if it’s even feasible for us to enforce this, or if the city has resources to do that. And whether this would have impacts on other streets outside the parking area. We also look at if there’s a better, less intrusive solution to the problem.”

Noozhawk intern Sarah Scarminach can be reached at Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.