Sprucing up the Spit through improved parking

• Comprehensive plan seeks to maintain Homer Spit’s ‘unique character’ while considering future growth

By Sean Pearson
Homer Tribune

HOMER TRIBUNE/Sean Pearson - Pat Coleman goes over Spit findings and ideas at Thursday’s planning meeting at Land’s End.

HOMER TRIBUNE/Sean Pearson - Pat Coleman goes over Spit findings and ideas at Thursday’s planning meeting at Land’s End.

The way Pat Coleman sees it, Homer has the cheapest parking in the world.
“Seriously, where else can you park free seven days a week?” he asked.
Coleman is senior planner with USKH Inc. – the Alaska-based planning and design firm the City contracted to assist in preparing a future development plan for the Homer Spit.
“Free parking on the Spit is a wonderful gesture, but its time has come,” Coleman said Monday. “You have to recognize the demand for parking and act accordingly.”
As part of the Homer Spit Comprehensive Plan, a second community planning workshop was held Thursday to provide an opportunity for community members to learn more about the project and provide input.
Following an informal open-house session in the afternoon that offered an opportunity to meet with USKH designers, view options and share ideas, Coleman gave a presentation and facilitated an evening public planning workshop.
“We laid out some large copies of aerial photos of the Spit on tables around the room,” Coleman explained. “Some had different concepts and ideas penciled in place, and we asked people to add their thoughts using the Post-It notes and pens we provided.”
According to Coleman, many participants said they liked being able to jot down their comments.
“I think it helped them feel like a part of the process,” he said. “The plans were something they could use as actual working documents.”
HOMER TRIBUNE/Sean Pearson - USKH Inc. used blueprints and aerial photos as working documents for those attending the meeting.

HOMER TRIBUNE/Sean Pearson - USKH Inc. used blueprints and aerial photos as working documents for those attending the meeting.

One issue Coleman said USKH heard a good deal of concern about was the parking on the Spit.
“Actually, parking issues are really a good problem to have,” Coleman said. “It means you are popular and have steady business. Parking is only really a bad problem if your lot is empty.”
Coleman and his crew set about studying the parking issue on the Homer Spit with clickers in hand on a sunny Friday.
“It was considered a busy, typical day on the Homer Spit, and we just started counting cars” he said. “We found that the paid parking near the boat ramps – the only of its kind on the Spit – is the least used.”
The study also indicated that parking on the Spit was up to 92 percent occupied in retail and ramp areas, and that gravel parking surfaces created numerous parking inefficiencies.
“We identified some parking management issues and looked at everything from relocating the Spit road, to an over-slope retail and boardwalk concept,” Coleman said. “I’ll be coming back down to Homer on Nov. 4 to present the framework plan to the Homer Planning Commission.”
The plan will be completed in the spring of 2010 and will address future land use, parking, pedestrian issues and conservation. It will also serve to guide future community decision-making on the Spit for years to come.
Coleman said he would still like to hear input from those who have issues, concerns or ideas regarding the use of the Homer Spit. His contact information, along with more information, is available at www.homerspitfutureplan.com.

Community ideas:
• Allow no more residential developments
• Mix/balance maritime industry with tourism
• Provide viewing areas for mammal and bird watching.
• Extend biking trail to the end of the Spit
• Offer kayak launch areas
• Improve access and condition of existing parks and open spaces
• Establish more parking

Parking Inventory and Count
• Counted Friday, July 10, 2009
• Approx. 1,343 spaces inventoried/counted every hour, all day.
• 1,023 vehicles occupied spaces at peak hours (2 p.m.)
• Up to 92 percent occupied in retail and ramp areas.
• 330 cars parked all day in various locations.

Parking management ideas
• Permit parking for slip rentals and employees
• Permit parking for long-term
• 4-hour free parking in key retail locations
• Separate long-term from short-term parking
• Compress existing boat trailer parking area
• Consider layout changes
• Create specific driveways to improve safety and efficiency
• Manage parking, adjusting policy to meet needs and demand

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Posted by on Sep 16th, 2009 and filed under Business. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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