Let Inga Tell You: The last parking place in La Jolla


It is a new era when you select your bank based not on their financial services but on the strategic location of their parking lot. Thanks to them, I always have a half hour of parking in downtown La Jolla. I consider it a mental health move.

I used to tell myself during the summer months that soon enough, it will be Labor Day and life in La Jolla will return to its normally congested self. But in the last few years, I can't help but notice that Labor Day doesn't even make much difference in parking or traffic congestion. My go-to parking places are gone even in January.

One of the issues, obviously, is that we simply have more people living here. But other than banks and supermarkets, I can't help but notice that retail businesses and even newly opened restaurants in Bird Rock, downtown La Jolla, and The Shores never have remotely enough parking spots for the patrons who are frequenting them. The default parking is on the street.

Let me just declare La Jolla to be officially out of street parking.

I had an insight as to how this has happened when a new mixed-use building was proposed in my area with four retail spaces and only three parking places for all of them. Parking Math 101: If one assumes two employees and one customer at any given time for each of those four businesses, 12 parking places would be the minimum. To my surprise, Municipal Code Something-or-Other requires retail parking spaces based on square footage and does not take into account how many businesses would occupy them. So the parking would be in the adjoining neighborhood, which already has serious parking problems from other businesses in the area. The neighbors just lost at least nine more parking places with this one building.

On Jan. 18, the Light ran a Letter to the Editor from an individual expressing distress that the house next door on Draper Avenue had been converted to a Vacation Rental by Owner that could sleep 24. (Every room but the kitchen and bathrooms had been converted to a bedroom.) Regardless of all the other problems this creates, 24 people are going to use more than the two normal residential parking places. The writer was "extremely upset." Me, I'd be berserkly homicidally furious having to live next door to this on an on-going basis, for the parking problems alone. (Note to self, pass along to the unfortunate letter writer, the phone number of my cousin Guido in the Bronx.)

It's not news that the Vons parking lot has been the parking-of-last-resort (or even parking-of-first-resort) for some years. This is why they've installed a parking attendant there to make sure people are actually going into the store. Recently, however, a Vons customer reported on one of the neighborhood "Next Doors" that he had been ticketed by the attendant even though he showed her his Vons receipt. Words were exchanged and threats of arrest were made. We're becoming the Wild, Wild West of parking.

On the street, don't even think of taking your chances that you won't get a pricey parking ticket if you overstay your spot. For a while I was taking a yoga class on Fay Avenue. Yoga classes are often an hour and 15 minutes, but parking around yoga studios is generally an hour. You might think it would be worth the risk. But you would be wrong. So, so wrong.

Those parking enforcement crones regard La Jolla's ubiquitous yoga classes as low-hanging fruit. That wonderful feeling of oneness with the universe is shot to hell when you come out to see your car and 10 others around it with parking tickets. Before you've done your first cat-and-cow, you just know they're out there chalking your tires. And cackling.

People are getting desperate. Sometimes, no matter how many blocks you're willing to walk, there are simply no parking places in downtown La Jolla. So I find myself gravitating to places for lunch and shopping where parking isn't a hassle.

I get that the Town Council wants to encourage businesses. But not requiring adequate parking is having a counter effect on that goal. And that a VBRO got approved that could house 24 people in a residential neighborhood? Shame on somebody. (Guido: forget the Glock and go for the piano wire.)

Meanwhile, I'm sticking with my nicely-located bank. If I don't have banking to do inside, I hit the ATM machine for $20 to make myself legal. And then I pop over to Meanleys or Bowers or Muttropolis or Pharmaca. The bank's security guard knows me and waves.

Whatever business goes into that location in the future, I'm planning to be a customer. Even if it's sumo wrestling. I'd be willing to learn sumo wrestling if I could park. You have to get your priorities straight.

— Inga's lighthearted looks at life appear regularly in La Jolla Light. Reach her at inga47@san.rr.com

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