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California dreaming about parking

Evanston Alderman Coleen Burrus told the city’s Parking Committee Wednesday that she found a great idea about parking on a trip to Laguna Beach, Calif.

Evanston Alderman Coleen Burrus told the city’s Parking Committee Wednesday that she found a great idea about parking on a trip to Laguna Beach, Calif.

We can’t import the weather, but how about the parking plan? (City of Laguna Beach photo.)

Burrus, 9th Ward, says that in the ocean-front town, residents can buy what’s called a shopper parking permit that lets them park at a shopping district meter without having to feed it.

Parkers are still limited to the posted meter time limits, and the permits are not valid in some areas of town.

In Laguna Beach the permits are good for two years and cost $80 each for the first two cars and $150 for a third and fourth car per household.

Parking committee members seemed to think it was a great idea, but of course, this being Evanston, the talk immediately turned to much higher fees for a permit — like $200 a year.

Alderman Melissa Wynne, 3rd Ward, said she imagines she puts more than $200 a year into parking meters and, "there should be a discount (for the permits), but I don’t want it discounted by half."

Burrus said it could be a good will gesture by the city for residents, without reducing city revenues.

Parking Committee member Dave Galloway said he thought it was an interesting idea, but wondered whether it would discourage other good habits. "I’m trying to walk and bike downtown more," Galloway said, "and part of the incentive is the money saved not paying for parking, and the time saved not having to look for a space."

Committee member Paul Giddings said, "I have no idea how much I spend a year on parking. But philosophically for the citizens it’s a perk worth studying."

Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Jonathan Perman said, "It’s a great idea that could be tied to some other kinds of loyalty incentives" that might be offered by local businesses.

The committee took no formal action on the proposal but agreed to seek more information on how such a plan might be implemented and the best pricing strategy.

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