Underground parking at La Jolla Rec Center gets above board support from Traffic & Transportation group

The parking garage that construction contractor Tom Grunow would like to build underneath the playground at the La Jolla Rec Center earned its first sort-of vote from the La Jolla Traffic & Transportation Board (LJT&T) board at its May 16 meeting at the Rec Center.

The motion’s original wording — to support the concept of the 100-vehicle structure — was scaled back to support merely the charette (an extensive planning session, open to the public, that Grunow will hold from Tuesday, May 22 through Thursday, May 24 at the Rec Center) and the possibility of building the garage.Yet the board, which approved unanimously, couldn’t have seemed any more pleased with the idea, which occurred to Grunow after reading an article about the upcoming playground remodel in La Jolla Light.

“I think we really need to encourage anybody that comes up with an idea for more parking in La Jolla to go ahead,” said LJT&T board member Tom Brady, calling the idea “excellent.”

Grunow previously presented at La Jolla’s Development Permit Review, Town Council and Parks & Recreation meetings, receiving encouragement but no formal vote.

The LJT&T board had questions, however, most of which Grunow couldn’t answer at this early point. For example, how will it get funded and will it be funded out of something else? As board member Patrick Ryan said, “excavating for underground parking is very expensive.”

Also, will it be free parking or paid? And could a portion, or all of it, serve as parking for the San Diego Museum of Contemporary Art across the street?

Grunow, estimating the structure cost at $6 million “with possible variables,” said the idea now is to come up with renderings of what it would look like, drawn by a group of architects whom he said have already volunteered their time.

“Once you have a plan and it’s clearly stated,” Grunow said, “then it’s easy to attract donors.”

Also at LJT&T:

A unanimous recommendation was given to the Challenged Atheletes Foundation for traffic restrictions to hold its 25th San Diego Triathlon Challenge on Sunday, Oct. 21. They include temporary street closures with no parking for Coast Boulevard, between Prospect Street and Girard Avenue, and lane closures on Torrey Pines Road, between Prospect Street and La Jolla Shores Drive.

The board also unanimously recommended a two-hour parking limit on the east side of La Jolla Boulevard between Midway and Forward streets (one of the last unlimited-parking strips in the area).

La Jollan Karen Marshall was instructed to return next month to re-present her request to legally restrict the northbound rush-hour traffic snarled on Torrey Pines Road from turning right on her street, Roseland Drive, from 4 to 7 p.m. on weekdays. Marshall failed to substantiate in writing her claim that the City had already approved the idea. However, as Ryan informed her, it will not be an easy motion to pass.

“My concern is that if residents there say, ‘I don’t like traffic coming down my street, I want to make a law against it,’ that’s a pretty tough precedent to set,” Ryan said.

Finally, Dan Allen provided a very brief status update on his group exploring the possible use of funds for a shuttle bus to the Mid-Coast Trolley, stating that “there’s still a lot of questions” and that “changes will be at least two years off.”

He also asked the board for more volunteers for the group.

— The La Jolla Traffic & Transportation Board next meets 4 p.m. Wednesday, June 20 at the La Jolla Rec Center, 615 Prospect St.