By Dave Schwab
Instead of agreeing to move three valet parking spaces east on Prospect Street, La Jolla’s Traffic & Transportation Board wants to survey residents and merchants to see what they think.
The advisory group on Jan. 20 had given unofficial approval to move the spots from George’s California Modern at 1250 Prospect St. to service Crabcatcher and Eddie V’s on a trial basis. They didn't have enough members present for a formal vote and reconsidered the issue on Jan. 27, when they voted 5-1 to conduct the survey.
Eddie V’s is set to open this summer at 1298 Prospect St. in space formerly occupied by the Chart House.
Restaurateur George Hauer came to the Jan. 27 meeting to voice his view that, though he’s dubious of the need for splitting valet parking, he was willing not to oppose doing it — on a trial basis — as long the change would not become permanent if it didn't work out.
Hauer praised the board members for making a thoughtful decision.
“They’re in a difficult position,” he said Friday. “People on these committees are volunteers trying to do the best for the community, and there are going to be a vocal number of people who disagree with their decisions. I think they’re being really careful to include a census. I think that’s responsible and will keep the criticism down.”
T&T chairman Todd Lesser was presented at the meeting with a petition signed by 50 people who didn’t want to see the valet service serving the Village’s 10 restaurants and numerous retail shops changed.
Lesser noted the Crabcatcher's owners approached the committee about their a desire to have valet closer to their point of access.
“There are 12 (valet) spaces, they want three,” he said, adding the city of San Diego "is willing to try this on a temporary basis. But they wanted us to get input from community members and merchants."
Lessser said he's received complaints from people concerned about possible traffic congestion that could be caused by moving the spots.
"I think it’s important to find out what the merchants want, throw out some ideas, some options, and let them vote on it,” he said. "I want to see what the merchants think before we vote."
At the Jan. 27 meeting, Village landlord Lincoln Foster said he hadn’t been aware of the proposed valet change and only heard about the public meeting on it at the last minute.
Michael Harth, Sunset Parking Service president, said at the meeting he believes having all 12 valet parking spaces consolidated in one area is best.
“We had two zones we combined into one and the volume started going up and it was more efficient,” he said.
Though he would be willing to go along with shifting valet service on a trial basis, Hauer noted, “It’s going to be very difficult having two valet zones operated by two different operators. It’s going to make an already difficult situation more complicated."
Hauer said La Jolla’s valet zone parks 225 cars a day.
“Valet is a parking extender absent any community parking facility,” he said, adding that valet parking has no time limitations, which is accommodating for visitors and allows them ample time to eat, stroll or shop.
No further details on the community survey were discussed by the transportation board, which pointed out it’s up to the applicants who want to shift valet spaces to work out the language and details of an appropriate valet survey.