Nestled at the base of north Arizona’s San Francisco peaks, the City of Flagstaff is home to over 70,000 people and is the seat of Coconino County. Flagstaff’s vibrant Downtown, rich historic character, thriving cultural scene, magnificent natural setting, and its position at the gateway to the Grand Canyon National Park make it a desirable place to live and visit. With growth and investment Downtown, the City’s success has created conflicts around parking access for workers, residents, shoppers and visitors. Demand for parking Downtown led the City to undertake a comprehensive parking study and management plan that resulted in a new paid parking system for Downtown. To address the City’s needs as it grows and evolves, Flagstaff worked in partnership with FLOWBIRD to develop solutions that address local needs, reduce conflicts, improve the user experience and support community goals for Downtown Flagstaff.
Parking in Downtown Flagstaff is in high demand and the City controls only 37% of the parking supply Downtown, mainly in on-street parking. North of Route 66, parking can be particularly hard to come by with occupancy staying close to 100% during the summer tourist season before paid parking. While the City’s limited on-street parking assets were stretched thin, private off-street parking Downtown was underutilized. The City’s growth both in population and demand for parking stressed Flagstaff’s need for effective parking management.
Overview of the Parking System
A survey of Flagstaff residents, workers and business owners confirmed that most had a difficult time finding parking Downtown. Although a 2009 study recommended metered 1-hour parking for on- street stalls, most residents found parking meters undesirable. Local business owners expressed some support for paid parking management strategies, with one quarter were willing to pay for employee parking Downtown if suitable parking options were available.
In 2017, the City implemented ParkFlag, a comprehensive parking management program for Downtown Flagstaff. The City administers the program in partnership with FLOWBIRD and has developed specific branding. The City is working to improve signage and the web presence to make parking fees, regulations and restrictions easy to understand for the general public. In high-demand areas Downtown, the City has instituted 1-hour paid parking for on- and off-street spaces at a rate of $1 per hour, 7-days a week. Payment for parking is accepted at multi-stall pay stations via the Whoosh! mobile app or with cash at City Hall or at select businesses Downtown. Resident and employee permits allow for long-term parking Downtown and additional resident and guest permits can be purchased online through the ParkFlag website. Flagstaff has coordinated program implementation with demand reduction measures, including free transit passes available through the ParkFlag program and a planned discount for regular bicycle commuters.
The program is designed to allow for flexible validation through the mobile app or as $1 discount from purchases at local businesses. Validation is in the process of being implemented. The ParkFlag program is less than a year old, but revenues are on pace to exceed the estimated one million dollars in revenue the program was estimated to generate. A 20% share of revenue from the parking program is dedicated to expanding parking supply including a public parking structure. Investing a portion of parking revenue in new parking facilities will allow Flagstaff to meet the changing needs of residents, workers and business owners as the City continues to grow.
“I was out of the country when the kiosks were installed,” resident Way Yuhl said in an email. “When I returned to Flagstaff I was thrilled to be able to find convenient parking every time I was downtown. Before the introduction of paid parking it was extremely difficult to locate convenient parking downtown. Thus, in terms of the program creating parking for downtown customers, it appears to be successful. Presumably people are paying for parking, thus money is being generated for a future parking garage, another success for the program.”
-Arizona Daily Sun
There’s more parking available in Downtown Flagstaff, with roughly 80% of spaces occupied at peak following implementation of paid parking. This summer will be the first with paid parking Downtown, and with a carefully managed parking system, more parking will be available for visitors downtown. With average daily revenue surpassing estimates by nearly 10%, and expected to outperform projected revenue by 20-30% during the tourist season, the City is planning for a new park-and-ride in addition to the planned public parking structure.
Residents and business owners agree — it’s easier to find parking with paid parking Downtown. The program has received broad support from the business community. 95% of local business owners had a favorable opinion of the ParkFlag team and the plan that is currently being implemented. Successful deployment of a smart parking system in Flagstaff has helped maximize the City’s downtown parking resources, support improved mobility, and has served as the foundation for a rewarding partnership between FLOWBIRD and the City of Flagstaff.