La Jolla Parking District quietly dissolved: City Council decision protested locally

The idea of dissolving La Jolla’s Community Parking District — which has been inactive since it formed in 2005 — caused a stir and was ultimately not supported by the La Jolla Community Planning Association (LJCPA) during its Dec. 1 meeting. But when it came for the City Council to weigh in during its Dec. 6 meeting, the dissolution was quietly approved on the consent agenda, without comment.

Now, La Jolla Village Merchants Association executive director Sheila Fortune is contesting that action, and has already written the San Diego City Council, Mayor and City Attorney’s offices. She argues the topic was not properly noticed and the City Council, given the opposition from local boards, should have heard more from the community. 

The La Jolla Community Parking District was formed in June 2005, along with other community parking districts, to identify and pursue solutions to the unique parking issues facing each area. In Pacific Beach’s district, for example, variable on-street paid parking in the commercial district, residential permit parking, parking validation programs and changes in parking requirements for new development were addressed. 

But with no progress to speak of, and no measures implemented to create income, there is no money available for La Jolla’s Parking District to operate. Then-City Council president Sherri Lightner introduced the request to dissolve the La Jolla Community Parking District in November of this year. She asked LJCPA to support the action on the grounds that it had been inactive and in 2011, Promote La Jolla, the board tasked with managing the district, was disbanded. 

Lightner explained, “Soon after the La Jolla Community Parking District was created, the community of La Jolla blocked the efforts … to install paid parking meters in La Jolla. Without any parking meter revenues to support the Community Parking District … it was unable to properly function.”

At the board’s Dec. 1 meeting, LJCPA voted to deny the request for support of the dissolution after a plea from Fortune, and due to insufficient information. On Dec. 6, an item to “Adopt the Resolution dissolving the La Jolla Community Parking District” was on the San Diego City Council consent agenda, which was passed. 

“We didn’t know it was on the consent agenda, there was no community notice,” Fortune said. “So I wrote to the Mayor, Community Council and City Attorney to let them know that not only were we not notified, but the La Jolla Community Planning Association voted against it. I also have a meeting with Councilmember Barbara Bry the first week of January to see if there is anything we can do.”

By maintaining the La Jolla Community Parking District, even if it is inactive, Fortune said La Jolla would maintain its ability to weigh in on City parking proposals, and should they generate any revenue, La Jolla would get a percentage. 

“Through Little Italy’s Community Parking District, for example, they have parking meters on the street and around 45 percent of what gets collected goes to the Little Italy community fund, but if the City decided to come in and put parking meters in La Jolla, not only would we not have a say, but all of that money would go to the City’s General Fund, there wouldn’t be that split with La Jolla.” 

She added while “no one is suggesting” the installation of parking meters, should some form of paid-parking be implemented, Fortune would want La Jolla to have input as to where and get some of the revenue generated. 

At the LJCPA meeting, Fortune pleaded, “By dissolving the La Jolla Community Parking District, we are left vulnerable to a City of San Diego one-size-fits-all plan and without the La Jolla Community Parking District … we will not have the voice necessary should the new City Council chose to impose higher rates for valet zones, paid parking or no parking on Friday and Saturday night on certain streets, like they do in the Gaslamp. This was instituted due to major traffic congestion, and could easily happen on streets like Fay Avenue where we have a large movie theater and a new music and entertainment venue soon to be constructed.” 

Should the City Council decide to reopen the discussion of La Jolla’s Community Parking District, Fortune said her hope would be that the La Jolla Village Merchants Association would be the managing entity.

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