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Request for valet service at new Bird Rock restaurant draws opposition at La Jolla traffic board meeting

New Bird Rock restaurant Paradisaea would like valet service near its building.
(Elisabeth Frausto)

With new restaurant Paradisaea opening Sunday, Sept. 25, in Bird Rock, the La Jolla Traffic & Transportation Board opposed a request to convert two parking spaces just outside the restaurant to a valet zone.

The board voted to block the proposal during its Sept. 22 meeting online, asking the applicant to return with more information.

Nick Bernal of Preferred Valet Parking said Paradisaea owner Eric Kleinbub asked Bernal to create the valet zone out of concern for “the potential negative impacts that additional parking [demand] might have on the community” once the restaurant opens.

Since the restaurant, at 5680 La Jolla Blvd., is next to a residential area, the idea is to keep diners from taking residential parking spots, Bernal said.

The two spots planned for valet are currently 15-minute parking spaces, Bernal said. Valet drivers would take cars to a private lot at 5575 La Jolla Blvd.

“That lot holds approximately 20 to 25 cars, which we feel would be sufficient for the parking needs,” Bernal said. He added that the restaurant also has about six spaces behind it that would allow for overflow parking.

The valet hours would be from 6 to 10 p.m. Thursdays through Sundays.

Eventually, Bernal said, valet might be expanded to daily should community response be positive.

T&T board member Nancy Warwick expressed concerns with the valet service, and other La Jollans followed suit.

“If you’re constantly backing out with the valet, I see that impacting the traffic flow,” Warwick said, noting that there is a crosswalk right behind where valets would back out.

Bernal said valet staff would be properly trained to provide signals to one another for safe backing out and would monitor pedestrian activity.

La Jolla Shores Association President Janie Emerson suggested moving the parking spaces so they wouldn’t interfere with the crosswalk.

“That could be an idea we could entertain,” Bernal said.

La Jolla resident Don Schmidt said La Jolla Boulevard “was not engineered for constant pulling in and pulling out and people queuing up.”

“If this backs up, you’re going to get a lot of angry people,” he said, with drivers diverting through residential streets.

Bird Rock Community Council secretary Barbara Dunbar said “the impact on traffic is going to be huge.”

She also wanted to see designs for the valet signage and stands and anything that would encroach into the public right of way.

“That’s a huge concern and a huge consideration,” she said.

Deborah Marengo, chairwoman of the La Jolla Planned District Ordinance Committee, urged T&T to ask Bernal to return with plans for what a valet stand would look like in the public right of way.

Emerson and Marengo also said the valet service should be open to anyone regardless of destination. Bernal said he would recommend to Kleinbub that the service be open to more than just restaurant patrons.

T&T member Bill Podway moved to turn down Bernal’s request for a valet stand as presented, and the board voted unanimously to support the motion.

Bernal said he took notes on the concerns and would return at a future meeting.

La Jolla Boulevard speed limit

Bird Rock resident Harry Bubbins brought forth a proposal to T&T for a reduced speed limit on a southern stretch of La Jolla Boulevard between Loring and Colima streets, an idea that found encouragement at the Sept. 6 Bird Rock Community Council meeting.

The current 35 mph limit “is too fast,” said Bubbins, a member of local volunteer group Respect Bird Rock. “It’s faster than any other road going into La Jolla Boulevard anywhere else.”

He said he’s reluctant to suggest a speed limit. “We’re not going to try to … create discord; we just want to say it needs to be lower,” he said.

Bubbins said more than 100 people have signed a petition he started on change.org trying to lower the speed limit.

Scott Rose, a resident of north Pacific Beach whose balcony overlooks La Jolla Boulevard, said the current speed limit makes the “complex intersections” in his area “worse than they otherwise might be” and that speeding cars and bicyclists make for a dangerous situation for pedestrians and others.

The discussion-only item was met with further agreement at the T&T meeting.

Chairman Brian Earley said “35 [mph] is a little much” with pedestrian crossings in the area.

Dunbar said there should be a 15 mph sign as drivers approach the roundabout on La Jolla Boulevard at Colima Street but “that sign is missing.” ◆