Los Gatos Weekly Times

Could Los Gatos start charging for hourly parking downtown?

Town council votes to hire full-time parking manager

- By Hannah Kanik hkanik@bayareanew­sgroup.com

In a split vote, the Los Gatos Town Council last month approved hiring a fulltime parking manager to tackle the town's ambitious plans to overhaul its downtown parking.

The council voted 3-2, with Vice Mayor Mary Badame and Councilmem­ber Matthew Hudes against creating the position, which has a salary cap of $200,000 annually.

“I think this is something critical, there's more work to be done in parking, but we need to do the work we've already started,” Mayor Maria Ristow said at the Aug. 15 council meeting.

As its population grows along with its plans to bring in more tourists, the town is considerin­g switching from free hourly parking to paid parking to break up parking congestion and the resulting traffic.

The town has been slowly implementi­ng its 2019 parking action plan, which identified changes like employee parking permits and better way-finding signs, as well as paid parking via kiosks and mobile apps.

After Los Gatos rolled out its employee parking program earlier this year, the remaining plans were put on hold until the town could hire more staff.

Later this year, the council is set to determine if and when the town should transition to a paid parking model. Drivers can currently park for up to three hours for free in most lots and on streets downtown before having to move their vehicles.

Last December, the Town Council asked staff to flush out what a “pay to stay” model could look like for visitors who don't want to move their vehicle every few hours and are willing to pay to stay in one parking space.

Town staff presented the Town Council with four different parking models at the Aug. 15 meeting, including one that keeps things as they are. Another option presented was free two-hour parking on streets and in

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