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La Jolla parking board explores plan to track availability of on-street spaces and post on sign

The La Jolla Coastal Access and Parking Board is considering communicating Village on-street parking availability on signage.
The La Jolla Coastal Access and Parking Board is considering communicating Village on-street parking availability on signage for motorists.
(Elisabeth Frausto)

The board is shifting from plans for electronic signs indicating the number of parking spaces in four area garages.

The La Jolla Coastal Access and Parking Board is “switching gears” from a proposal to direct drivers to area parking garages through signage and is focusing on monitoring on-street parking availability in another possible pilot program.

The board gave its blessing Oct. 28 to parking consultant Brad Elsass to gather information about available technological options and costs and return at a future meeting.

The board has been tasked for more than a decade with spending money set aside in the La Jolla Coastal Access Parking Fund, which was established about 50 years ago through California 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 board and the city of San Diego. Just over $278,000 is available for the shuttle system and about $121,000 for short-term parking projects.

Over the years, the board determined that the shuttle idea was unsustainable and has sought alternative ways to spend the money that the Coastal Commission (which has veto power) would find to be in line with the MOU. So far, none has.

Most recently, CAPB focused its efforts on a two-part directional sign program, with static signs to be posted throughout The Village directing pedestrians to area landmarks and beaches, and an electronic sign indicating how many parking spaces are in four area garages, where they are located and the cost at each one. Signs fronting those garages would show how many spaces are available.

The plan got the green light from the Coastal Commission late last year to move forward.

But, Elsass noted, “one of the pieces of feedback the Coastal Commission had was that this would be substantially beneficial to the garage owners and that they should supplement the concept with some sort of free parking or discounted parking. We had conversations with the garage owners and there is not a lot of appetite from these private owners to discount their asset, so there are some challenges in getting that done.”

Thus, he said, one idea is “switching gears from an off-street parking solution to an on-street parking solution” and proposed keeping track of on-street parking spaces along streets that visitors often take from Torrey Pines Road to access the beach and relaying that information through a dynamic sign to alert drivers of parking availability.

Using Coast Boulevard/Cave Street as an example, Elsass said visitors to The Village take that way to get to the beach and wait for “one or two magical stalls to open up,” causing a backup to Prospect Street and Torrey Pines Road.

“If we monitor those stalls with technology and communicate with signage that there is no parking on Coast Boulevard, that will keep traffic moving on Prospect, where there is more parking,” Elsass said.

Jodi Rudick, executive director of the La Jolla Village Merchants Association (the fiscal agent of the funds), said, “This way, no particular private entity is benefiting; it’s just the community at large that benefits and we still meet the goal of having better flow and more ample parking options.”

CAPB trustee Andy Fotsch said the idea “seems exceptionally well-thought out” and “a really good solution to the problems we have.”

But trustee Ray Weiss noted that the proposal means finding a way to monitor public street parking spaces.

“That’s a much more distributed problem than figuring out how many spaces are in one parking structure,” Weiss said. “It sounds a bit overwhelming.”

Elsass said “the technology is fast-evolving, so there are all sorts of different methodologies that would meet us from a technology standpoint that are much less expensive and much less cumbersome than they seem.”

He said the next step is putting together some options and budget numbers to be presented at a future meeting.

Other CAPB news

After questions arose at the last meeting as to whether the board should disband due to a lack of progress, the members who attended the Oct. 28 meeting committed to continuing its mission.

“We are bound and determined to get something accomplished,” Rudick said.

Chairman Dave Abrams added, “We’re going to do it, folks!”

The board held an election of officers and revised its bylaws to change the meeting schedule.

Abrams agreed to serve as chair on condition that the board meet quarterly instead of monthly. So the board agreed to change the bylaws to meet “quarterly or as required.”

Gabby Guevara agreed to continue as secretary, and Bill Podway was elected treasurer.

The board’s next meeting will be in January online. Learn more at lajollabythesea.com. ◆