Editor’s Note: This is part two of a series looking at Petaluma commuting as SMART prepares to debut train service.
As Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit prepares to launch service this summer and city officials work to address potential snarls caused by a lack of station parking, plans are coming together for a parking structure at a long-awaited east Petaluma station.
After years of negotiations, SMART officials Monday afternoon struck an agreement with Newport Beach-based Lomas Partners, LLC, that could pave the way for the development of a 150-space parking structure at the future Corona Road station, SMART General Manager Farhad Mansourian said.
Lomas will now work with the city and regional water quality agency for permissions, he said. If the deal moves forward, the developer would construct a parking lot on the land at Corona Road and North McDowell Boulevard and dedicate the rest of the parcel for the construction of a station, Mansourian said. In exchange, Lomas would pay the agency an undisclosed price and get a SMART-owned downtown parcel to be used for future development, he said.
“This will be a very good thing for Petaluma,” he said.
City Manager John Brown said the city council voted to set aside traffic impact fees in part to help the developer build a parking structure. No development applications have been submitted to the city for the downtown lot or the parking garage, he said.
“The east side facility has always been the one envisioned to be that which commuters would use,” he said. “The expectation was that there would be a volume of parking available at the east side station. It’s lamentable that SMART didn’t move forward to include that parking it its own plan for that station. Be that as it may, we’re working with a private developer for all the commuter demand we think exists for the SMART train.”
Currently, the sole Petaluma station is on Lakeville Street near the city’s core business district and a large network of residential streets. While Petaluma Transit operators last month implemented tweaks to the bus network to bolster connectivity to the train, it’s not yet clear how many commuters will drive to the station.
SMART constructed a temporary paid parking lot with 50 vehicle spots and 25 bike racks. The city plans to debut commuter parking in an existing lot at the Petaluma Arts Center within the next month, said Dan St. John, the city’s director of public works and utilities.
An estimated 33 spaces will be open for the general public, with 19 spots reserved for the visitors’ and arts center, City Engineer Curt Bates said. The lot will include six accessible parking stalls and two electric vehicle spaces, with no overnight use, he said.
Unlike the adjacent SMART lot, which will cost $2 per day, those spots will be free, St. John said.
In the meantime, St. John said the city will monitor residential neighborhoods surrounding the station, which are lined with unregulated parking. If necessary, officials will explore options to regulate parking, including possibly creating a permit system for residents.
“We’re going to keep a real close eye on those and if we start seeing spillover, we’ll likely take some action to restrict parking in that area or provide parking for residents only,” he said.