La Jolla board still waiting for change to guiding document that would free up money for parking projects

The La Jolla Coastal Access and Parking Board has about $121,000 currently available for parking solutions in The Village.
The La Jolla Coastal Access and Parking Board has about $121,000 currently available for short- or long-term parking solutions in The Village.

As La Jolla and San Diego’s other coastal communities continue to stand by for the California Coastal Commission to consider the city’s sidewalk vending and “Spaces as Places” outdoor dining ordinances, another local issue may be joining the waiting game.

The La Jolla Coastal Access and Parking Board is anticipating changes to its guiding document that would free up more than $200,000, but it depends on Coastal Commission approval.

CAPB 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 Coastal Commission-required contributions by office space developers. The funds were to be divided between a shuttle system intended to move people throughout The Village from a remote parking area and the costs of 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 parking projects.

Over the years, the board concluded 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 memorandum of understanding. So far, none has.

“Since the [Metropolitan Transit System] Route 140 [bus] acts as a shuttle service, we feel confident that this need is being met,” CAPB member and La Jolla Village Merchants Association Executive Director Jodi Rudick wrote in an email to the board and other interested parties. “Now that a shuttle service exists, we requested that the MOU be rewritten to allow the community to find alternate solutions to ease parking and traffic issues in The Village.”

Two MTS Route 140 buses sit on Silverado Street in La Jolla.
(Ashley Mackin-Solomon)

At the board’s April 28 meeting, it learned the city was recommending that language in the MOU requiring that half the funds be dedicated to the shuttle system be removed. The board voted to support that change and asked the city to forward the recommendation to the Coastal Commission for review.

Since then, “there has been no movement to update the MOU,” Rudick said.

City representatives did not respond to requests for comment on whether the city is still reviewing the MOU.

“In talking to city staff … it was suggested that we meet with [City Councilman Joe LaCava, whose District 1 includes La Jolla] to get his support for the change. We will set up this conversation and ask the District 1 council office to officially support the new terms of the MOU,” Rudick said.

LaCava said July 29 that “the use of funds controlled by the Coastal Commission remains a complex issue, and I hope to be part of a solution that works for all sides.”

In addition to the Coastal Access and Parking Board MOU, the Coastal Commission must review the sidewalk vending and Spaces as Places ordinances before they can be enforced in the coastal zone.

The commission thus far has not listed those ordinances on the agenda for its Aug. 10-12 meeting. Subsequent meetings are scheduled for Sept. 7-9 and Oct. 12-14. The October meeting will be in San Diego.

The Spaces as Places program provides regulations and design requirements to transition temporary outdoor spaces established during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic to permanent. The city began accepting permit applications under Spaces as Places in January, and it took effect in most of the city July 13.

However, in coastal areas like La Jolla, Spaces as Places can’t take effect until it is certified by the Coastal Commission because the ordinance requires a change to Local Coastal Programs, which serve as planning documents for coastal communities.

The sidewalk vending ordinance includes permitting and health and safety regulations that went into effect June 22, but many other points that focus largely on where vendors can operate cannot be enforced in the coastal zone until the Coastal Commission approves them. ◆

While the La Jolla Parks & Beaches board is the latest local group to sign on to a letter to the California Coastal Commission looking to curb sidewalk vending in La Jolla parks, it is the only one thus far to register some opposition.