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La Jolla PDO Committee approves parking directional signs plan in concept but wants to see designs

The La Jolla Coastal Access and Parking Board proposes a sign on Prospect Street near Coast Boulevard.
The La Jolla Coastal Access and Parking Board proposes a sign — likely on Prospect Street near Coast Boulevard — indicating how many parking spaces are in four area garages.
(Bing Maps / La Jolla Light)

In its first foray into the community review process, the Coastal Access and Parking Board presented its directional signs program during the La Jolla Planned District Ordinance Committee’s Feb. 8 meeting online, gaining conceptual approval while being asked to return with visuals for the committee to approve.

CAPB is proposing one sign — likely on Prospect Street near Coast Boulevard — indicating how many parking spaces are in four area garages, plus signage fronting those garages showing how many spaces are available.

Without a rendering or schematic design, the PDO advisory board voted only to support the proposal in concept.

According to the La Jolla Community Planning Association, its parent organization, PDO reviews development applications in the portions of La Jolla regulated by the La Jolla Planned District Ordinance, a blueprint for development. For projects requiring no other discretionary permits (e.g., building signs and facade renovations) the committee’s recommendations are forwarded to LJCPA for ratification before being submitted to the city of San Diego.

After other proposals failed to get California Coastal Commission approval, the La Jolla Coastal Access and Parking Board suggested the directional, or wayfinding, program, to be funded under short-term parking solutions as part of the La Jolla Coastal Access Parking Fund, which was established about 50 years ago through Coastal Commission-required contributions by office space developers. About $121,000 is available for short-term parking solutions.

The plan includes two parts: signs posted throughout The Village directing pedestrians to area landmarks and beaches, and electronic signs directing drivers to parking garages and indicating the available spaces. Four lots would participate in a trial run. The matter of pedestrian signs will be revisited once there is a contract for the parking signs.

Bit by bit, the La Jolla Coastal Access and Parking Board is making headway toward implementing its directional sign program.

CAPB member Jodi Rudick said that, based on a San Diego State University study, a third of La Jolla’s visitors are first-timers and most come by car.

“We are going to be putting signs on the parking garages to designate how many spots might be in those garages … but we also need what is called the main directional sign that would allow a visitor coming in from Torrey Pines Road into The Village to have that information so they can make a good decision as to where to go,” she said.

Brad Elsass, vice president of strategic initiatives for Ace Parking and a consultant to the board, said the project would relieve congestion caused by motorists circling The Village looking for on-street parking and would clear the streets faster, relieving traffic on Torrey Pines Road by moving more cars into The Village.

“The main goal is to get people to make a parking decision faster, and for those that are going to have a significant length of stay in The Village — coastal access users — street parking is not the best option for them. A paid parking facility allows for longer length of stay and keeps the on-street parking free for shorter uses,” Elsass said.

An early suggestion was to have a sign on Torrey Pines Road, but that was later deemed “unrealistic,” Rudick said.

Instead, Elsass suggested having a sign at the “Y” intersection of Coast and Prospect.

“One of the main drivers to the backup coming down Prospect, which translates all the way down to ‘The Throat’ [where La Jolla Parkway becomes Torrey Pines Road], is when it gets congested on Coast. That traffic backs up all the way. If we can encourage people to not go down Coast because there are additional parking options open and available on Prospect Street, that will help overall congestion.”

PDO Chairwoman Deborah Marengo, who was part of the founding CAPB team, questioned whether the sign placement would create “a bigger issue” by taking people off of Coast and onto Prospect Street because existing valet stands on Prospect cause some backup.

Marengo also had concern with approving a plan without seeing renderings or design. “The PDO is charged with looking at aesthetics in the community and preserving the character of The Village. Without a sample ... and what it looks like, I have issues with that.”

However, committee member Katey Longo said the directional signs could be “a crucial fix” for parking and traffic issues. “Anything we can do to help leave a positive impact on people’s experience would be huge. … I think there is a missed opportunity with the garages we have.”

She moved to support the proposal in concept but require CAPB, after additional community feedback, to return to PDO with designs for approval. The motion passed unanimously.

Rudick said the plans also would make the rounds to the La Jolla Village Merchants Association, La Jolla Parks & Beaches, La Jolla Town Council, LJCPA and La Jolla Traffic & Transportation. Hearing dates were not announced.

The La Jolla Planned District Ordinance Committee next meets (pending items to review) at 4 p.m. Monday, March 8, online. Learn more at lajollacpa.org. ◆