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Parking board to explore pilot transport programs in La Jolla

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(Ashley Mackin-Solomon)

To move forward with using the more than $400,000 available in the La Jolla Coastal Access & Parking Fund to mitigate parking and traffic congestion in The Village, the namesake La Jolla Coastal Access & Parking Board (CAPB) will launch an exploratory effort into vetting various transport pilot programs.

The board met June 28 in the offices of Marengo Morten Architects to discuss programs that could solve piecemeal parking problems in La Jolla. The board is comprised of representatives from the La Jolla Community Planning Association, La Jolla Village Merchants Association, La Jolla Town Council, citizens and parking authorities.

The La Jolla Coastal Access Parking Fund was established some 50 years ago through California Coastal Commission (CCC) required contributions by office-space developers. The purpose was to implement: 1) a shuttle system to move people throughout The Village from a remote parking reservoir, and 2) other short-term or long-term parking solutions. These terms are outlined in a Memorandum of Understanding between the CCC and the City of San Diego.

As of the June meeting, there was approximately $240,000 for the shuttle and reservoir system, and approximately $160,000 for short-term parking solutions, plus an additional $19,127 that was refunded to the board upon the recent discontinuation of the discount parking permit program for Village employees.

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The plan going forward is to implement pilot programs that will yield data the board can use to determine what actually works that might be worth investing more money into. The funding for these programs would come from the lesser “short-term parking” fund, given that it is more flexible — to tap into the “shuttle” fund, a dedicated parking area (reservoir) would need to be identified.

“We want to present actual data, not just our opinion,” said La Jolla Village Merchants Association executive director Jodi Rudick. “People might be willing to take a shuttle, but the best way to measure that willingness is to test it and have some real numbers and measure the response from that.”

One issue CAPB identified is motorists circling The Village to find free on-street parking, which contributes to traffic congestion.

The pilot-program likely to be explored to solve this is a Sunday Shuttle that would encourage users to park near the La Jolla Open Aire Market (given its popularity and available area parking) to be transported to the coastline and throughout The Village with golf carts supplied by local vendors.

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Rudick said she would initiate a Request for Proposals and come back with possible costs.

Should the program prove to work, CAPB chair Deborah Marengo noted it could evolve into a more permanent program with a parking reservoir the board could submit to the Coastal Commission, so the cost could be paid from the “shuttle fund.”

Rudick explained: “The model is, park once, stay longer.” Because parking limitations are not in effect on Sundays, the board contended that would be the best day to consider.

“When that shuttle is running, it could bring people to the beach,” Marengo added. “If I was down at The Cove, and knew the shuttle was running, I could hop on and go get some lunch and then come back.”

Possible stops could include hotels, main Village intersections, and different beaches.

To move forward, a route for the shuttle would be mapped and a Request for Proposal would be sent out to garner costs.

When the proposals are returned, and the board finds one with reasonable fees, it could use some of its more flexible funding to launch the pilot shuttle.

Another identified issue is the lack of parking during normal business hours due to employees that work in The Village.

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Ace Mobility Solutions’ rep Brad Elsass explained: “The Village is most impacted Monday through Friday because of the office space within The Village, and that is always going to be the case. The prime times for tourists and visitors to The Village are nights, weekends and holidays, and there is not a parking demand issue then.”

As such, LJVMA rep Robert Mackay recommended establishing parking reservoirs throughout town. He said he would like to partner with local institutions, such as churches, that might have spaces in their lots during the week that could be used for Village employees.

“That’s not to take away from parking garages, but it’s for the employees who are parking farther away and walking or taking scooters to get to work,” he said. “These could be hubs for parking. And they would be low-cost and we could use some of our money as a seed fund.”

Another topic the board will explore is “to get involved” with requesting the City create a shuttle system to connect the Mid-Coast Trolley stations (the line is being extended, with stops at UC San Diego and UTC) to The Village and The Shores. Details will be discussed at a future meeting.

Also at CAPB

Rudick explained that the LJVMA has been the fiscal agent for the La Jolla Coastal Access & Parking Fund and its previous executive director, Sheila Fortune, served as fund administrator. But with Fortune stepping down last fall, a discussion needs to take place at the next LJVMA meeting to decide who the new administrator will be.

The next La Jolla Coastal Access & Parking Board meeting date is being determined.


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