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Downtown Placentia Metrolink and Parking Structure
Downtown Placentia
Placentia-Westgate Specific Plan
The City has been working with the Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA) for a number of years to secure the necessary funding to design and construct a Metrolink Station in the City’s downtown business area often referred to as Old Town Placentia or Placita Santa Fe.

The Metrolink Station, which is funded completely by OCTA using State and Federal funds, is finalizing the federal environmental process and is hoped to go out to bid in late 2013 or early 2014.  The station is expected to take 18-24 months to complete and will include the installation of a third rail line in order to allow freight trains to bypass waiting trains at the station. To view a presentation on the Metrolink Station that was presented by OCTA on April 17, 2012, please click here.

One of the conditions imposed by Metrolink and OCTA upon the City early on in the development of the Metrolink Station was a requirement that the City secure adequate right-of-way, easements and/or long-term ground leases to accommodate a minimum amount of commuter parking spaces, either through surface parking or parking structure(s), or a combination thererof. For the past several years, the City, through the former Redevelopment Agency, has spent millions of dollars acquiring property to satisfy this requirement. Due to the surface parking plans developed by OCTA removing over 47 on-street parking spaces critical to the downtown business community, the City began exploring the construction of a parking structure as a means of providing the required parking.

Initially, OCTA was not willing to fund, fully or partially, the construction of a parking structure. Finally, in the fall of 2011, OCTA agreed to not only reduce the parking requirement to 450 parking spaces, but also committed any budget savings from the construction of the Metrolink Station towards the development of a parking structure.  At this time, the City and OCTA continue to work cooperatively on financing a parking structure that does not include the use of vita City General Funds.

Downtown and Metrolink Parking
Image of Potential Parking Structure
35% Design Image of Potential Parking Structure
While building surface parking is far more economical than structured parking, the City cannot rely solely on surface parking if the downtown is to grow and be revitalized.

Currently OCTA’s parking plan call for the creation of 445 surface parking spaces on City-owned property and public streets. As described, this plan will permanently eliminate 47 current parking spaces in the downtown area that are open to business customers, employees and residents.  The construction of a parking structure in the downtown area has been studied as part of a visioning process through a regional planning association and by a consultant retained by the City to analyze parking demand.

In 2001, the Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG) started a regional visioning process that culminated in a strategy for regional growth that would accommodate the coming growth while providing for livability, mobility, prosperity, and sustainability. This visioning process, which became known as a “Compass Blueprint,” was intended to promote a stronger link between transportation and land use planning at both regional and local scales so that growth is directed toward areas that offer mobility and transportation choices.

Beginning in 2003, the five North Orange County Cities (NOCC) of Brea, Fullerton, La Habra, Placentia and Yorba Linda received a grant to participate in a Compass Blueprint study to explore opportunities for transit-oriented development around an emerging high-capacity transit system. The study resulted in a report addressing the long-range needs for parking, pedestrian circulations, multi-modal transit access, commercial intensification, and public gathering areas of a proposed Metrolink Station in the City’s historic downtown area. The report found that there was a need for a three story 498-space parking structure to support multi-modal transit access, existing commercial businesses and future economic opportunities. This report can be viewed here.

In December 2011, the City received a report from Walker Parking Consultants entitled “Parking Structure Feasibility Analysis”. The purpose of this report was to analyze parking in the City’s downtown area to better understand the parking impacts of the proposed Metrolink Station. The report concluded that surface parking alone would not be able to satisfy the parking demands of the Metrolink Station, as well as downtown businesses and residents. Furthermore, the report found that “dependence on scattered [surface] parking in the area will be extremely inconvenient for train commuters looking for a spot to park, especially in the morning peak hours.” While the report did find that constructing a parking structure is more costly than surface parking, the benefits of a parking structure that provides more parking capacity and increased convenience outweigh the cost. The Parking Structure Feasibility Analysis can be viewed here.

Construction Costs
Downtown Aerial
For larger image, click on link at bottom of parapraph to left.
The City’s architectural firm, Baker Nowicki, has completed 100% design drawings for the parking structure. Preliminary estimates place hard construction costs at approximately $7 million. The City currently has $2 million in its Capital Improvement Program fund set aside for the parking structure. This money can only be used for capital projects. The Cooperative Agreement between the City and OCTA provides that any savings from the construction of the Metrolink Station can be used for the parking structure.  The City is working with its financial team to identify other potential sources of funding including private funding and further funding by OCTA. A final decision regarding funding will be made in the near future as the construction costs are further refined, the full extent of the budget savings from the Metrolink Station is known, and the final federal environmental clearance is obtained. Absolutely no General Fund dollars will be used in the construction of the parking structure.  For a larger image of the picture to the right, please click here.

The Parking Structure as a Catalyst for Economic Development
Potential Street Scene with Retail Development
Numerous studies have been performed over the years on the downtown area and how to best revitalize it. Study after study has revealed that the economic future of the downtown is invariably linked to the availability of adequate parking. The goal in pursuing a parking structure is to ensure that there is sufficient parking for Metrolink Station patrons, downtown businesses, their employees and the residents that live above the commercial businesses along Santa Fe Avenue. The current surface parking plan proposed by OCTA reduces parking for downtown businesses and residents and could create future parking problems as ridership numbers increase at the Metrolink Station. Without access to adequate parking, potential customers that would otherwise shop and dine at our local businesses and restaurants may go elsewhere if parking is limited.

Structured parking adds diversity by allowing the automobile to co-exist with other forms of mobility, in contrast to sprawling surface parking, which inhibits other mobility, notably pedestrian. When parking structures become a destination, and a ‘park once’ policy is employed, it encourages linking pedestrian trips to a variety of venues. Ultimately this helps create future economic opportunities, as well as the potential to generate greater income for downtown businesses and, more importantly, the economic vitality of the City overall.

For More Information
For more information, please contact the Development Services Department at (714) 993-8127

401 East Chapman Avenue
Placentia, CA 92870
(714) 993-8117