City Beat

News, insight and discussion on Sacramento and its neighborhoods

April 19, 2012
Councilman: Even with arena deal gone, Sacramento should still explore squeezing more out of downtown parking

Following the collapse of the city's arena deal, the proposal's most ardent opponent says the city should still explore generating cash out of its parking operations.

Councilman Kevin McCarty told me this week the city is "sitting on an untapped asset to potentially make this city millions annually."

Mayor Kevin Johnson and City Manager John Shirey had proposed monetizing downtown parking - either through leasing those assets to a private firm or creating a city-run parking authority - to generate as much as $250 million for the proposed downtown sports arena.

McCarty has been supportive of squeezing revenue out of parking. He just didn't want to spend it on an arena.

Now, he says the city could look at upgrading its parking system and using new revenue for "ongoing priorities" such as parks, firefighters and cops. He said some of the money could also be used for "economic development opportunities" downtown through issuing revenue bonds.

Chicago got into trouble for leasing its parking to pay off one-time debt.

While using cash here for "ongoing priorities" might sound a little like using parking revenue to fund city employee salaries and benefits - which make up a vast majority of the city budget - McCarty said he is "vehemently against" using a one-time windfall from parking it to fill a budget gap.

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About City Beat

Ryan Lillis has covered the city of Sacramento, its 108 neighborhoods and its politicians since 2008. Prior to that, he covered crime at The Bee. A native of upstate New York, Lillis has a journalism degree from the University of California, Berkeley.

Contact reporter Ryan Lillis at rlillis@sacbee.com

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