Downtown Carpinteria Parking Study

Introduction & Project Overview

The City of Carpinteria is excited to share some of the findings from the Downtown Carpinteria Parking Study, which provides a comprehensive analysis of the downtown public parking system. The study summarizes existing parking conditions downtown, including parking supply, parking occupancy (how many cars are parked), and existing rules and requirements that influence parking. It also makes recommendations that, implemented over time, will allow the City to ensure that its public parking resources are maximized to the benefit of businesses and visitors to the downtown area.

Finally, the study provides an analysis of parking needs for potential new commercial development in downtown and expanded rail service at the Carpinteria Amtrak station. This analysis will result in a series of recommended strategies to manage and accommodate potential future parking needs downtown.

To understand parking conditions in downtown, the study kicked off with data collection. This included collecting parking occupancy data in August 2019 on one weekday and one weekend day, which provided an understanding of how much parking was available in downtown and how it was being used. Once existing parking conditions were analyzed, potential future parking needs were modeled. With an understanding of both existing and future parking needs downtown, a series of recommendations were developed. These recommendations provide strategies to manage downtown parking to ensure parking needs are be met for everyone accessing downtown – residents, visitors, employees, and business owners.

The next step is to gather input from the community, and we hope that you’ll take the brief survey at the bottom of this page as a part of this process. A vital part of this study will be understanding how residents, business owners, and stakeholders within Downtown Carpinteria experience parking. What works and what are the challenges? What should the future of parking in Carpinteria look like?

Study Area

The downtown study area consisted of all on- and off-street public parking within the “Downtown T”, which includes Carpinteria Avenue and Linden Avenue, as well as parking within a few blocks east and west of Linden Avenue. The Downtown T is considered to be the downtown core and consists of the most desirable on-street spaces and the most popular public lots, Lot 1 and 2. It is also understood that some visitors or employees of downtown may also park just outside the Downtown T, especially during peak times when parking is most in-demand. Therefore, parking within a few blocks of the T, including Elm Avenue, Maple Avenue, Walnut Avenue, and the numbered side streets (9th, 8th, 7th, 6th, and 5th Streets) were also included.

Figure 1: Downtown Study Area
Downtown Carpinteria Study Area

Summary of Findings & Recommendations

  • Existing parking occupancy counts revealed that Downtown Carpinteria experiences a parking surplus with 65% of downtown spaces occupied and over 300 spaces available during the weekday lunchtime peak.
  • The current mix of parking restrictions in downtown was found to adequately serve visitors and employees using the spaces.
    • Parking time, including 90-minute limits on Linden Avenue and Carpinteria Avenue, as well as public Lot 1, were found to adequately serve downtown visitors and experienced few violations (those staying longer than the posted limit).
    • Unrestricted parking (i.e. parking areas with no time-limits, such as public Lot 2 and Lot 3) were also found to adequately serve long-term parking needs, such as employee parking.
  • Downtown Carpinteria is expected to continue to grow and change in the future with new development projects and redevelopment of existing space likely increasing the demand for public parking over time.
  • City parking requirements and Development Impact Fees (DIF) for parking deficits have historically been a barrier to new development or redevelopment in downtown.
  • The City will need to continue proactively planning for the adequate supply and management of downtown parking in order to meet the needs of existing and future land uses, including parking needs for downtown visitors, residents, employees, and business owners.


Parking Requirements and Restrictions in Downtown

  • Downtown parking currently experiences a surplus of parking, which could support more downtown development. As such, the City should:
  • Establish amended downtown parking policies and regulations that serve to right-size on-site parking in recognition of the parking surplus and support policies that maintains and expands the existing downtown development pattern.
  • Establish a methodology for allocating the parking surplus that can be a benefit to all areas of the downtown district and is sustainable over a reasonable period of time.
  • Evaluate downtown parking requirements for new development/redevelopment on a case-by-case basis. This would include the following considerations:
    • Allowing new development/redevelopment to use available downtown public parking to meet some of their parking demand. This would include:
      • Treating downtown public parking as a shared supply for existing and new downtown businesses and land uses.
      • New development/redevelopment would use downtown spaces that currently sit empty.
    • Reductions may be considered for projects that demonstrate alternative methods to meet their parking needs. This may include:
      • Parking some demand off-site (e.g. employees)
      • Providing amenities for other transportation options (e.g. bike parking, transit passes for employees, etc.)
      • Develop a Transportation Demand Management program that would detail how the project applicant plans to reduce vehicles trips to/from the site, thus reducing the amount of parking required.
    • Reduce the cost of the current DIF
  • Based on current parking conditions, existing time-limited and unrestricted parking should remain. This includes:
    • 90-minute spaces on Linden and Carpinteria avenues and restrictions in Lot 1.
    • Lot 2 and Lot 3 should continue to remain unrestricted for longer-term parking.

Planning for Future Parking Demand

  • While the downtown currently experiences a surplus of parking, the City should regularly monitor parking demand in downtown as new development or redevelopment occurs. These observations will help the city identify when it is time to implement additional parking management strategies, or consider constructing new supply, to ensure parking is adequately provided and managed. Key indicators that additional parking management strategies may be required include:
    • Downtown parking supply is 85% or more occupied during the peak
    • Visitors are required to spend several minutes circling the downtown area to find an available space.
    • Employees and visitors are spilling over into residential areas to find available parking in areas outside of the Downtown T.


  • When these thresholds are met, the City may consider implementing the following:
    • Institute time-limits in unrestricted parking areas.
    • Construct additional parking supply. This could be accomplished by:
      • Public-private partnerships
        • The City would enter into an agreement, for a fee, with a private property owner to lease underutilized, available private parking spaces. These spaces would be marked with signage indicating that they were publicly available parking.
      • Constructing new parking
        • The City would construct new public parking lots on City-owned land
        • Explore opportunities to convert some parallel on-street parking to angled parking.
      • Provide a valet program for downtown businesses.
      • Develop a Residential Parking Permit program (would require Coast Commission approvals) to reduce downtown spillover.
      • Work with businesses to create an Employee Parking Program.
      • Incentivize non-driving transportation options.
        • Reconfigure Linden Avenue to provide protected bike lanes.
        • Establish a downtown bikeshare.
        • Implement a dockless bike or scooter program.
        • Increase transit service and develop programs that encourage arriving to downtown by transit.
        • Provide dedicated pickup/drop-off spaces for rideshare services such as Uber and Lyft.
        • Convert some on-street parking on Linden Avenue to parklets (parking spaces concerted to public space for seating, dining, etc.)
          • Currently, the City has allowed temporary parklets in response to the Covid-19 pandemic and businesses have expressed interest in making these allowances permanent.
          • With the existing surplus of parking, the conversion of a few spaces on Linden Avenue to parklets is anticipated to have an imperceptible impact. Over time, as parking demand increases in downtown, the parking management strategies recommended as part of this study should aid in continuing to mitigate in any loss of parking due to parklets.
          • Additionally, it should be noted, that while a parking space can accommodate one vehicle, a parklet can serve several pedestrians, provide additional outdoor seating downtown, and provide additional amenities such as bike parking, public art, and landscaping.
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