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September forum may take another look at community parking district and meters

A community parking district intended to mitigate La Jolla's parking problems was dissolved in 2016 but could be revived.
(File)

Take our poll included with this story.

Several of La Jolla’s community planning groups have signed on to co-sponsor a community parking workshop in September to discuss everything from parking’s effects on traffic congestion to parking meters.

Though the forum, titled “La Jolla Village Parking: Separating Myths from Facts,” is still being developed, possible topics include parking’s impact on traffic congestion, the results of a 2021 La Jolla Village Merchants Association visitors survey and the “The Four M’s of Parking Solutions.” The latter include incentives to motivate off-street parking, discouraging merchants from having their employees park on the street, a marketing plan to direct drivers toward off-street parking, and monetization, or the cost of free vs. paid on-street parking.

Part of the discussion will be whether to re-establish La Jolla’s Community Parking District, a mechanism to generate revenue to bring about parking solutions, with the city of San Diego as a partner. CPDs typically facilitate paid parking and increase free on-street options through parking realignment and removal of red curbs.

La Jolla had a CPD that formed in June 2005 but was dissolved in December 2016. Then-City Councilwoman Sherri Lightner said in fall 2016 that “soon after the La Jolla Community Parking District was created, the community of La Jolla blocked the efforts … to install paid parking meters in La Jolla. Without any parking meter revenues to support the Community Parking District … it was unable to properly function” and had been inactive.

The Village Merchants Association and the La Jolla Community Planning Association opposed the dissolution at the time.

Existing CPDs include the communities of Downtown, Mid-City, Old Town, Pacific Beach and Uptown.

What are the revenue options for La Jolla?

The more common paid parking choices through CPDs include parking garages and paid lots, valet parking and parking meters. Some CPDs have discussed or implemented different income generators, such as on-street paid parking in commercial areas, residential permit parking, parking validation programs and changes in parking requirements for new development.

La Jolla’s Village already has valet options such as at La Plaza La Jolla and Prospect Street — both of which are available for public use — and has parking garages and pay lots. According to research by LJVMA Executive Director Jodi Rudick and volunteer Bill Podway, the majority of parking in The Village is off-street — out of 6,745 parking spaces, only 2,456 are on-street; the rest are in off-street garages and lots and available for valet.

LJVMA has an ongoing parking promotion through its website, lajollabythesea.com, in which the public can purchase an all-day pass for $4.95 to park in the Ace Parking garage on Prospect Street.

More than 4,200 parking spaces in The Village are located off-street, such as in garages.
More than 4,200 parking spaces in The Village are located off-street, such as in garages, according to the La Jolla Village Merchants Association.
(Elisabeth Frausto)

Among the common paid parking choices, La Jolla has shown resistance toward meters.

A 2008 LJVMA survey indicated that 642 merchants opposed paid on-street parking and 73 favored it. Though the board still wanted to explore the option, nothing came of it.

However, La Jolla Traffic & Transportation Board Vice Chairman Dave Abrams said there has been a rethinking about the prospect of on-street paid parking since the last time the idea was broached.

“The idea has always been a third rail,” Abrams said. “If you touch it, you’re going to get electrocuted. Historically, it has been opposed by merchants because they were concerned it would keep people from shopping in The Village. And the residents didn’t like it because they want free parking.”

But, he said, “attitudes have changed to a degree” in that more and more San Diego shopping centers are charging for parking, which shoppers have accepted, and people are growing more frustrated with the congestion from motorists slowly circling The Village looking for a free parking space.

“There may be a different outlook that should be considered,” he said.

As a point in favor of meters or another form of on-street paid parking, Abrams said it would create a rotation of on-street parking during the day. “Currently, when people park in a space with a posted time limit, they just walk out and dust the chalk off or move their tires a little bit, so they stay longer than the posted limit,” he said. “This would free up more spaces and create a rotation. Plus, employees tend to park on the street, and this might cause employers to create arrangements with the parking garages and free up even more spaces on the street.”

However, Abrams said there likely would be pushback from residents. “I seek free parking, I have to admit. So I think there will be resistance, but it’s a matter of evolving into something new,” he said. “If it’s affordable and accessible, I think people can open up to it.”

He added that residents may be concerned that paid on-street parking in the commercial center would mean more people parking in the nearby residential areas.

What do you think about parking meters in La Jolla? Take our poll here.

What’s the process for parking meters?

According to the city, there are about 5,700 metered parking spaces across San Diego. The city treasurer’s office is responsible for installation, repair, maintenance, monitoring and enforcing appropriate use of the spaces, along with meter coin collection. The Police Department provides enforcement, and the Economic Development Department acts as the city’s liaison with the CPDs.

Parking meter rates, hours of operation and length-of-stay limits are variable and are adjusted to encourage turnover and maximize use. Adjustments are recommended by the affected CPD, reviewed and approved by Economic Development in consultation with other city departments and implemented by the treasurer’s office Parking Meter Operations Program.

The city uses meters that accept credit cards, mobile phone payments, coins and payment methods such as Apple Pay, Android Pay and Samsung Pay on certain meters.

Who gets the money and how can it be used?

Parking meter operations are governed by City Council Policy 100-18, which says that 45 percent of meter revenue can be allocated annually to community parking districts, “less the administrative and parking meter operations costs.” In addition to that 45 percent, the city “may allocate all or a portion of the parking management-related revenues to a CPD on a case-by-case basis.”

The remaining 55 percent of the money collected by parking meters goes to the city general fund.

The policy further dictates that the CPD share “shall be expended for regulation, management and control of the parking of vehicles and management and control of traffic (including vehicular, bike and pedestrian), which affects or is affected by the parking of vehicles in the parking meter zones.”

The purposes of the expenditures may include, but are not limited to:

• Increasing the parking supply, such as through lease, purchase or construction of additional on-street or off-street parking

• Managing the existing parking inventory, including measures such as parking evaluations, reconfiguration, residential permit parking programs, employee parking programs, enforcement and reducing red curbs

• Providing parking information through signs, maps, videos, apps or other tools

• Funding for community shuttles or circulator systems within a CPD

• Facilitating the use of alternative forms of transportation such as shuttles, public transit, bicycling and walking to reduce parking demand

• Providing landscaping and maintenance as a necessary safety barrier for vehicles, bikes and pedestrians and providing security services at shuttle stops or parking areas

• Urban design activities that relate to parking or control and management of traffic that affects or is affected by parking meter zones

The online parking forum, scheduled for 5 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 29, is being presented by the Village Merchants Association, Community Planning Association, Traffic & Transportation Board, La Jolla Town Council and Enhance La Jolla. ◆