Motorists in Santa Monica will soon be required to pay increased rates when parking in downtown structures and near the Civic Center.

The Santa Monica City Council voted unanimously May 11th to establish new parking costs for downtown structures No. 1-9, the Main Library structure, Civic Center parking structure and the Civic Auditorium lot. The rate adjustments are part of the first phase of the Walker Parking Study, which evaluated parking operations and market conditions in downtown Santa Monica and analyzed revenue opportunities from parking rates to fund improvements.

The recommended increases were developed through additional study of rates in comparable areas, city principal transportation engineer Sam Morrisey said.

Under the rate adjustments, the maximum daily rate in downtown structures No. 1-9 will be increased from $7 to $9 and from $8 to $9 to at the Civic Center, while the monthly rate in the downtown structures will jump from $82.50 to $121. The flat evening rates in downtown garages will rise from $3 to $5 and a maximum evening rate of $3 will be set at the Main Library and Civic Center structures and Civic Auditorium lot.

Staff recommended that the council not reduce the two hours of free parking in downtown at this time after meeting with Bayside District representatives and community members. The rate hikes are expected to provide lower cost parking options during evenings and weekends in nearby locations.

By implementing the rate changes the city will be able to use some of the additional revenue to fund the reconstruction of parking structure No.6, which was also approved by the council May 11th, Morrisey said. The new rates will generate approximately $2.1 million annually from the downtown structures, he said.

City Councilman Kevin McKeown acknowledged that no one likes to pay for parking but he called the new rates “very timely,” saying that the city has identified some places away from the promenade where employees can have less expensive parking. While the rates are not enormous increases, they will allow for people visiting the downtown area to find the parking they want, McKeown said.