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La Jolla board to pursue new directional signs in 2 phases

A side-by-side perspective shows what parking lot signs in La Jolla could look like compared with what they look like now.
(File)

Following the advice of the California Coastal Commission, the La Jolla Coastal Access and Parking Board will start the process to determine costs and timelines for a two-part directional signage program.

The first part includes signs posted throughout The Village directing pedestrians to area landmarks and beaches. The second part includes electronic signs directing drivers to area parking garages and indicating how many spaces are available in each lot.

“We wanted to take a look at some smart parking options so people coming into The Village are not driving around in circles, literally and figuratively, and can readily and more easily find parking and get to the coast,” said CAPB member Jodi Rudick.

The La Jolla Coastal Access Parking Fund was established about 50 years ago through Coastal Commission-required contributions by office-space developers. The purpose was to implement a shuttle system to move people throughout The Village from a remote parking area and to carry out other short- or long-term parking solutions. The terms are outlined in a memorandum of understanding between the commission and the city of San Diego. There is approximately $278,000 available for the shuttle system and almost $121,000 for short-term parking solutions.

Any plan would have to meet the terms of the MOU to use some of the funds.

After other proposals failed to get Coastal Commission approval, the La Jolla board suggested the directional, or wayfinding, program. At the time, commission program analyst Alex Llerandi said Phase 2 (the signs directing drivers to parking opportunities) had “more traction with staff” and recommended that the board submit a proposal with the two phases.

During the board’s Sept. 24 meeting online, Brad Elsass, a CAPB consultant and vice president of strategic initiatives for Ace Parking, said the proposal was based on data-driven decision-making.

“Based on past research, off-street parking is ample during nights and weekends,” Elsass said. “Even on the busiest weekends, like Fourth of July, there is still excess off-street parking in The Village.”

He cited a San Diego State University study indicating that 32 percent of visitors said traffic is a deterrent to going to La Jolla and only 4 percent said parking is the challenge.

“Many times the perception is that parking is the issue … but traffic is the deterrent, say the survey responses,” Elsass said. “But if people can get off the street quicker [and into garages], that will cut back on the drive from Torrey Pines Road.”

Exact placement of the signs has not been determined, but one likely would be placed on Torrey Pines Road at Prospect Street.

“Almost everyone comes in through Torrey Pines Road and uses Prospect Street to get into The Village because most people follow signage already in place to take Prospect,” Elsass said.

Looking at what these programs cost, without getting formal bids, Elsass said the physical signage, installation and maintenance present a total project cost of $70,000 and an ongoing maintenance cost of $1,400 per month.

In previous discussions, Rudick said garages were unwilling to pay the maintenance costs, leaving the board with questions about how to continue the program with limited funds.

Elsass, speaking as a parking garage operator and not a consultant, said if a test group were to experience the benefits of the program, it likely would continue it when CAPB funds run out. “Once they have that value, and the money is no longer available to sustain the program, they either have to sustain the program or it goes away,” he said.

A motion to move forward with a formal process to seek bids, define the final program and the locations to focus on, work with the Coastal Commission for release of funds and eventually to select a vendor passed unanimously. Rudick committed to having proposals by the board’s next meeting.

The Coastal Access and Parking Board next meets at 4 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 22, online. Learn more at lajollabythesea.com.