T&T reviews adaptive signal timing, approves valet

La Jolla’s Traffic and Transportation (T&T) advisory board heard a brief presentation about the planned adaptive signal timing experiment on La Jolla Parkway, which is expected to launch in mid 2016, and also approved an increase in valet parking fronting Eddie V’s restaurant on Prospect Street, during its Nov. 18 meeting.

Assistant traffic engineer Mariana Sadek explained to the board that as part of a larger plan, the city would be testing “adaptive signal timing” on La Jolla Parkway between the I-5 on-ramp and where the Parkway becomes Torrey Pines Road. The rollout will take place in six months and involve the installation of cameras and sensors that will be used to adjust the duration of green lights. The goal is better traffic flow along the busy thoroughfare.

The current duration of a green light on La Jolla Parkways is 170 seconds, Sadek said, and serves all directions at that duration. So even if there is no one on the side streets or turning left onto the Parkway, the light timing remains the same. With the new system, timing could fluctuate by up to 20 seconds, depending on the amount of traffic. The system then communicates with other traffic lights along La Jolla Parkway so the timing adjusts to avoid a long green light, only to come upon a red light.

“The system chooses which time to use based on the demand and how long cars have been waiting,” she said. “This will be a test. If it works, we’ll keep it, but if it doesn’t, we will go back to the signal coordination we have now.”

The adaptive signal timing system is currently being tested in Sorrento Valley, and is reportedly working well. But Sadek said the different, often weather dependent, changes in traffic flow coming into La Jolla are more dramatic than what is found in Sorrento Valley.

▪Eddie V’s getstwo more valet spots

Representatives from Eddie V’s restaurant, which has four public valet parking spaces in front of its doors, were back before the T&T board for reconsideration of their request for four additional spaces. With the public valet currently in place, one does not need to dine at Eddie V’s to use the service.

But rather than approve the additional four spaces, the board voted to grant two, and discussion surrounded the balance between increased staffing and increased spaces to deter backups and congestion onto Prospect Street.

Eddie V’s managing partner Christophe Cevasco and Ace Parking operations director Mike Gaulin had requested the additional spaces for 6 to 11 p.m. weekdays and 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. on weekends. But concerns including the amount of staffing, and appeasing surrounding merchants who might be troubled by the loss of available street parking were raised. Gaulin said Ace would increase available staffing and on-hand staffing at that location. “The way we can handle this is our valet captain will check in with the hostess (at Eddie V’s) and find out how many reservations they have, and then call in or call out valets as needed,” he said, adding that on-hand staffing would increase in the summer.

Cevasco said he reached out to surrounding business to offer a parking validation program, so if someone makes a purchase with a participating merchant, the valet parking would be free, however, since many of the businesses close at 6 p.m. weekdays when the valet service opens, only a few would qualify.

An additional problem raised was the city signage explaining the parking rules. The current parking regulations for the spaces used by valet are: Reserved for deliveries before 11 a.m. daily, two-hour parking from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays and Saturdays, and reserved for valet from 6 to 11 p.m. daily.

T&T chair Dave Abrams said he would communicate with the city to ensure that clear, understandable signage was installed. Member Tom Brady told the petitioners, “It’s to your benefit and to the community’s benefit that you have signage that is easy for visitors to read.” Brady proceeded to make the motion to support the installation of two additional public valet spaces, pending adequate city signage, verification of increased staffing and the promise Eddie V’s return in one year to review the outcome. The motion carried.

T&T next meets 4 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 16 at La Jolla Rec Center, 615 Prospect St.