In what had the undertones of a political rally, about 100 residents, merchants and community planners massed at Warwick’s Bookstore Friday, Nov. 2 to show solidarity against a paid on-street pilot program proposed in La Jolla’s downtown Village.
A year-long trial run using high-tech paid parking is being advocated by Promote La Jolla, the community’s Business Improvement District, and advanced by the nine-member La Jolla Parking Management District Board composed of three members from Promote La Jolla, two nominees by Scott Peters in Council District 1 and the remainder drawn from various La Jolla community organizations.
Hostess Nancy Warwick discussed the meeting’s purpose, as well as her role. “I’m certainly not the leader of this ‘uprising,’ ” she said. “There is no single leader. This is a group effort, truly a community effort to stop the proposed pilot parking plan. If we succeed, it will be because we came together as a community and pooled our talents and abilities to prevent this disastrous plan from being implemented.”
Anne Cleveland, president of La Jolla Town Council, said the Council at its last meeting unanimously opposed the new proposed pilot parking program while reiterating its present - and past - stance against paid on-street parking.
“La Jolla Town Council represents the voice of the community, the voice of the people,” Cleveland said. “We want to hear what you have to say. We are listening. We want to represent you. We need to come to these meetings, the parking board meetings, the La Jolla CPA (Community Planning Association), and especially, the San Diego City Council meeting when they hear this. We need to provide a really strong presence opposing this proposal. Come on, fight with us. We can all fight together.”
Darcy Ashley, a community planner and member of the La Jolla Parking Advisory Board, argued that several stakeholder groups will be negatively impacted, or are completely unaware, of what the impacts will be should the pilot parking plan go into effect. “There was a gentleman from La Jolla Swim Club who let the parking board know paid parking will cost their members $800 a year,” Ashley pointed out. “These are people who are retired on fixed incomes who come to the Cove to swim every day. Casa de Manana (retirement center) on the ocean has never been contacted about what the impacts of this parking plan will be on their facility. They have 110 employees. Under this plan, where are those employees going to park? It’s a real problem, and they need to get engaged.”
Ashley talked about a third stakeholder group that has been unaccounted for in the proposed pilot parking program. “Schools and churches with religious services on Saturaday or Sundays, if you’re talking about seven day a week enforcement, that’s going to be a big impact,” she said.
Ashley unveiled a new “Free La Jolla” logo to represent opponents of paid on-street parking: an old-style, single parking meter head inside a circle with a line drawn through it. She added a Web site, www.nopaidparking.org, will serve as a clearinghouse for public comment and information. She also asked the audience to sign up for an e-mail list that’s being widely circulated in the community. The public can send editorial comments to the no paid-parking group at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Businesses, as well as residents, are concerned about how paid on-street parking might change the Village’s boutique atmosphere. Said Ashley: One of the biggest concerns people have is that a change in paid on-street parking will mean a change in the health of these longstanding businesses. We have a lot to protect for the future.”
Gina Phillips of Adelaide’s Florists & Decorators, a third-generation La Jolla business, invited the Free La Jolla group to hold a petition signing at her business during an annual Girard merchants open house to be held Sunday, Nov. 11 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Phillips added she’s fought paid-parking in the Village before and will do so again. She offered some suggestions for what might be done to improve the parking situation. “This community needs to have a place for their employees to park,” she said, “because without employees, we’re not going to have businesses. Then there’s not a reason to come. My one and only suggestion is to turn the community into a 90-minute parking zone and leave it at that.”
City Attorney Mike Aguirre made an appearance at the Nov. 2 meeting and promised to assign an attorney to work with the Free La Jolla group. Aguirre noted La Jolla is just one of several communities within the city grappling with the prospect of instituting paid parking. He cited Hillcrest’s shopping district as a case in point where paid parking was put in to the detriment of the community.
Aguirre also offered advice on how La Jollans can guard against a political deal being struck before the paid-parking issue comes to a vote before the City Council. “We need to get public records’ requests to the councilman and the mayor,” Aguirre said. “What will happen here is a deal will be struck between the councilmember, and four other members of the Council, there will be horsetrading back and forth - nothing to do with the dialogue - and by the time you get there (council meeting) there will be five votes. That’s what they did when they tried to decertify (unsuccessfully) your planning group, but your turnout was so overwhelming. I will promise you there will be no sneaky stuff behind closed doors and it (paid- parking vote) will be made on a meritorious basis.”