La Jolla board gets green light from state to move forward with plan for directional signs

Members of the La Jolla Coastal Access and Parking Board discuss the next steps toward getting directional signs installed.
Members of the La Jolla Coastal Access and Parking Board discuss the next steps toward getting directional signs installed in The Village at their Nov. 19 meeting.

The La Jolla Coastal Access and Parking Board has the go-ahead from California Coastal Commission staff to pursue its directional signage program. And with that momentum, the board will spend the next few months drafting proposals and circulating them to local community advisory groups before presenting to the city of San Diego in the spring.

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. Just over $278,000 is available for the shuttle system and about $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.

The plan includes two parts: signs posted throughout The Village directing pedestrians to area landmarks and beaches, and electronic signs directing drivers to area parking garages and indicating how many spaces are available in each. Four lots would participate in a trial run.

Commission program analyst Alex Llerandi previously said the idea of signs directing drivers to parking opportunities had “more traction with staff” and recommended that the board submit a proposal with the two phases.

When the parking board launched a request for proposals for the project, 12 applicants came forward.

In an email to board member Jodi Rudick, who also is executive director of the La Jolla Village Merchants Association, Llerandi said that when the proposal was presented to Coastal Commission staff, “response was fairly positive, and we believe that you all may be on to something good with regard to reducing traffic in The Village and improving public access. However, staff does have … comments that we will want to see addressed in any final proposal that you prepare.”

Among the comments were questions about the locations of the electronic signs; finding a way to list or identify all the parking garages in The Village, “not just the [ones] participating in the trial”; and “some sort of concession,” such as a reduction in parking rates, from the parking garages that would benefit from the program.

Brad Elsass, vice president of strategic initiatives for Ace Parking and a consultant to the board, said that with this information, the next step is to create a budget and a scoring matrix to use to make a final decision on vendor selection “that is going to ensure a fair and transparent selection process.”

Rudick and Elsass were given the board’s blessing Nov. 19 to create the matrix and submit it to the board in January (the board will not meet in December) and use it to select a winner.

Once a winner is chosen, a formal proposal will circulate to local community advisory groups in January and February for feedback and approval. Following any updates or modifications based on that feedback, the contract would be submitted to the city in the spring.

Board trustee Ray Weiss said he wanted to make sure the signs’ design wouldn’t distract drivers and that the signs wouldn’t be placed near residential areas.

“As quickly as we want to move this process, I think we all understand that it is going to take some persistence and time,” Elsass responded. “We will work through the challenges one by one to move this through.”

Trustee Tom Brady said the signs should indicate the cost for each lot as well as the number of spaces, and in a way that drivers could see with a brief look.

“I don’t know how you fit all this in on a sign and get people to understand,” he said. “But the progress that has been made is excellent, and I think the community will benefit.” ◆