As the new parking services manager for the city of Las Vegas, Brandy Stanley has been assigned the unique task of solving a problem where one seemingly doesn’t exist. Since being hired in June, she has completed an inventory of 47,500 parking spaces downtown, coming to the conclusion that there is a 40 percent oversupply in the area. Yet, Stanley also has learned that many people don’t know where to park, what it costs to park or how to pay to park. Therein lies the problem.
Some of those issues stem from a longtime sense of entitlement many Las Vegans have developed: We have become used to having an abundance of free parking, and we generally want to park within 5 feet of our destination. Stanley says part of her challenge is both to change that mindset and provide options for drivers.
“Do you want to pay a little bit more to park closer, or do you want to park two or three blocks away if there’s a free option?” she asks. “In most instances, that’s the case. And that’s very easy to do in downtown Las Vegas, because there is a lot of free parking—it’s just not necessarily right by the front door.”
But the challenges facing Stanley are far greater than that. She wants to replace the entire parking-meter system downtown with new technology that will accept coins, credit cards and debit cards. She estimates the transition will cost about $2.5 million to replace the 1,200 on-street meters, with funds coming from the city’s parking-enterprise fund, which is financed through parking fees and citations. The new meters are expected to generate nearly $1 million in revenue annually.
And although there is ample parking downtown, Stanley needs to ensure that remains the case as the area grows. Part of her solution is a shared-parking program in which spaces used by business employees during the day become available to the public at night. Stanley helped implement such a program in Manchester, N.H., where the city built a nearly 10,000-seat sports arena without adding a parking structure. This created more foot traffic downtown and spurred development. Stanley says similar conditions exist in Las Vegas.
“Parking is always evolving,” she says. “We need to create flexibility within our organization, because if you have a major player move into downtown, it can completely change the character, the rate structure and the needs of downtown. It all has a major effect on parking, and we need to be able to respond to that.”