City of Austin looking at ways to make South Congress parking less of a headache

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AUSTIN (KXAN) — Austin is looking at ways to make parking on South Congress less of a headache.

A recent study shows that there’s parking along South Congress, but people don’t know how to get to it.

“It takes a lot of circling.. and waiting,” said South Congress shopper, Olivia Saucedo.

This is usually the experience most South Congress shoppers have. Many say it’s taken them on average 8 to 10 minutes to finally find a parking spot.

There are more than 5,000 parking spots in the South Congress area. Three thousand spots are off-street parking, and 2,000 are on-street. People, however, are fighting for the most convenient spots closest to South Congress.

A recent study by the Downtown Austin Alliance shows only 60 percent of the parking is being used, meaning there are open spaces.

The study looked at surrounding areas of South Congress, including areas down Riverside Drive.

The study finds 24 percent of-on street parking is reserved for residents. It’s those spaces that sit empty more than most. ​​

“If they could do something that was hybrid zoning and metered, that would open up parking,” said a South Congress homeowner. “Not only are people parking here to go shop, but also employees parking.”

The study also finds that 40 percent of that parking is in areas that are unregulated. The problem is people are parking in ​spots for an extended period of time, which reduces that turnover.

What to do with this new information is still up in the air, but most agree the sooner you can find a spot, the better.

Based on the available data, nearly 1,300 off-street parking spaced are planned for the study area next term.

The city plans to hold a public meeting at the beginning of the year to address the concerns and come up with a solution for next spring.

Here are the top 5 takeaways:

  1. There are nearly 5,372 parking spaces within the South Congress study area, 63% of which are off-street, and 37% of which are on-street.
  2. Over half of all parking in the South Congress study area is completely unregulated. About 70% of on-street parking is unregulated, and about 44% of off-street parking is unregulated. These include some of the most popular, highly utilized blockfaces in the core business area of South Congress, as well as some adjacent o -street facilities that are signi cantly underutilized.
  3. Parking occupancy across the entire study area peaks at 60%. Nevertheless, there are on-street spaces in the commercial core and off-street spaces north of Academy Drive that do routinely fill to capacity. Nearby on and off-street parking goes underutilized.
  4. Parking is underutilized and could be regulated differently and signed better to encourage use. Making these underutilized spaces more apparent and available to the public with obvious and consistent parking signage could help.
  5. RPP spaces are underutilized, regulations vary widely, and implementation is largely ad-hoc. The RPP program presents opportunity for improvements focused on consistency, simplicity, and optimization of public right-of-way use for a variety of people.

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