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Don’t rubber stamp parking issue

One of the most dichotomous debates in the community of La Jolla is the issue of parking. The argument of whether there is a parking space shortage in the Village pits neighbor against neighbor, merchant against homeowner, visitor against resident.

Just mention the words “parking meters” in a crowded La Jolla venue, and the battles begin anew. Some say they are necessary, that a new public parking structure is needed and this is a way to pay for it. Others refute that, saying there is no shortage of parking spaces in the Village if you’re willing to walk a block or two.

There are even dueling studies. One states that the town has 400 fewer parking spaces than it needs. Another counters that existing parking structures are never more than half full.

You would be hard pressed to find someone in the Jewel who doesn’t have an opinion on the subject. And that’s one reason La Jolla needed a parking management district.

Back in the beginning of 2005, the city charged La Jolla with solving its own parking problems. The idea of a parking management district was proposed, one that gives La Jolla independence from the city over parking matters. It would be modeled after the three existing districts in the city.

The City Council approved of its creation in June 2005, and a new era was ready to begin in La Jolla.

Once the board members were in place, the first tasks for the new La Jolla parking management district were to develop a set of governing bylaws and the administrative infrastructure. Once those were defined, it was thought, the real work can be done.

But, how long should that take?

Since June 2005, little headway has been made. It took months to seat the board members. It took even longer to actually have a meeting. The first meeting was in January, a full six months after the creation of the district.

In that time, parking issues have begged to be addressed by the new board. One that has caused plenty of controversy is the valet parking operation at the new Jack’s La Jolla restaurant on Girard. Residents and some merchants balked at the eatery’s need to rope off eight parking spaces for the valet there.

Insight by the board was needed but not received. The board refused to make an independent decision, even with the city pressing them to do the job to which they had been assigned. Instead, the parking managment group deferred to the decisions made by two other advisory groups: La Jolla Traffic and Transportation Board and the La Jolla Community Planning Association.

The last thing La Jolla needs is another group that can’t work intelligently and independently on a pressing matter. We do not need a group to rubber-stamp the decisions of others. Sure, they added wording to their decision that allows them to go back to the matter after the board has gotten its bearings, but what good will that do the citizens depending on them to make a wise decision now on the Jack’s valet issue?

The La Jolla parking management district is responsible for clearing up the latest parking dispute. We need to know they can handle smaller decisions before getting into the meat of the paid-parking dispute, and six months should be enough time to get that ball rolling.

Enough time has gone by, and it’s time to get down to business.