Hold the Sunday Village Shuttle: Commission wants parking board to fund trolley stop connector instead


The California Coastal Commission (CCC) has effectively nixed plans for a Sunday Shuttle in The Village, as proposed by the La Jolla Coastal Access & Parking Board (CAPB), recommending instead that the board use funds available to seed a connector trolley or bus between The Village and the nearest Blue Line Trolley stop.

CAPB met Aug. 28 in the offices of Marengo Morton Architects to receive this update.

The Sunday Shuttle pilot-program was intended to encourage Village visitors to park near the La Jolla Open Aire Market (given its popularity and available parking) from where they could be transported to the coastline and throughout The Village via golf carts or other small vehicles supplied by local vendors.

However, in the course of due diligence, CAPB member (and La Jolla Village Merchants Association executive director) Jodi Rudick reached out to the CCC (which oversees some of CAPB funding) for input.

Reading from an e-mail sent by a Coastal Commissioner, Rudick reported: “It is the opinion of CCC staff that the shuttle program is not adequate to warrant spending the (available) funds. … Commission staff is still of the mind that the forthcoming opening of the Blue Line Trolley extension will present the best opportunity to tie The Village into San Diego’s greater alternative transit system through some kind of shuttle or transportation system.”

The La Jolla Coastal Access Parking Fund was established some 50 years ago through CCC-required contributions by office-space developers. The duel purpose was to implement a shuttle system to move people throughout The Village from a remote parking reservoir, and create 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.

There is approximately $240,000 for the shuttle and reservoir system and approximately $160,000 for short-term parking solutions.

The e-mail indicated the CCC is open to other ideas for spending the so-called “shuttle money,” but staff would likely wait until the trolley opens to consider them.

Further, Rudick pointed out several community planning sub-committees have requested a connecting shuttle between the trolley line and The Village, when it opens.

The new line would extend trolley service from Santa Fe Depot in Downtown San Diego to the University Community area, serving major activity centers such as Old Town, UC San Diego and University Towne Centre.

The trolley is anticipated to begin service in late 2021.

When discussed at various community planning sub-committees, several residents recommended a smaller bus or trolley to connect nearby Blue Line Trolley stops to The Shores and/or The Village.

The idea would be to use the $240,000 “shuttle money” to seed the connecting route and vehicles, but the specifics were not discussed.

Which way to a parking garage?

In the meantime, to get cars off the street and reduce the number circulating around The Village, the board is considering using the so-called “parking money” to add way-finding signs to area parking garages.

Without submitting a formal proposal, Ace Parking rep Brad Elssas did some preliminary research and told the board that in addition to the signs immediately fronting the garages, there could be signs at key entry points into The Village that give the address of the parking garages and the number of spaces in each lot.

Locations could be on La Jolla Boulevard, in the middle of The Village and on Torrey Pines Road.

CAPB trustee Ray Weiss suggested that the proposal could be seen as “a way for the parking garages to make more money,” and questioned who should pay for it.

Elssas replied that the idea would be to have the CAPB fund the launch of the program, and then have the various garages continue with its maintenance and repair costs.

Also in attendance were reps from LAZ Parking, who said that while the idea is “sell-able” to the owners of the buildings in which these garages are located, they would need to confer with these owners so they fully understand the advantages and disadvantages of hosting the signs.

The tentative cost would be approximately $12,000 per garage. Although the cost and time commitment would be different for each garage, Elssas said the system could be up and running within three months of final approval.

Trustee Tom Brady suggested noting that the signs read “Paid Parking” or list the price to avoid confusion.

CAPB chair Deborah Marengo noted another key component of the plan would be determining which garage operators would be willing to participate and what they would be willing to contribute.

The CAPB 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 Coastal Access & Parking Board next meets 9:30 a.m. Wednesday, Sept. 25 at Marengo Morton Architects, 7724 Girard Ave.