By Marc Atrash and Cyril Jones-Kellett
“What do you think about the possibility of paid on-street parking in La Jolla?” two reporters recently asked passersby on Girard and Fay Avenues.
The idea was to find out what locals think of the proposal to charge for some street parking, and if one Thursday afternoon’s casual survey can be counted as evidence, sentiment is decidedly against.
“I think they should forget the parking meters,” said 20-year La Jolla resident Linda Humphries. Though she said she does not drive anymore, Humphries called the idea of parking meters “just one more thing to make it less a village.”
“I’m against meters, I think that’s ridiculous,” said 13-year resident Caroline Farwell.
“If something’s not broken, then why fix it?” asked Linda Currie, who has lived in La Jolla for four years.
Currie said there “absolutely ... should not be parking meters in downtown La Jolla for multiple reasons: one it would be difficult for older people to park their cars then walk up the street to buy their ticket then to come back and put it back in the car then to do some shopping. I think it would drive people away from shopping here because it would be inconvenient, and I also don’t like that the idea that the revenue that would be raised from the parking meters would end up more going downtown San Diego than it would ever come back to La Jolla.”
These negative reactions formed the majority position among those who identified themselves as La Jolla residents or as employees of La Jolla businesses.
The second most commonly expressed position was indifference.
“It won’t change my day either way, so it doesn’t matter to me,” said Sarah Ratliff, a Smith Barney employee. She said that people who live in La Jolla have told her that they do not want paid on-street parking. She added that she never has trouble parking. “But I get here at 6:30,” she said, to be at her desk for the opening of East Coast markets.
Alanna Donovan, who has lived in La Jolla for five years, said that, in her experience, people do a lot of in and out stopping at local businesses. “People are literally in … for like 5 minutes, so why would they want to put 25 minutes in” a parking meter.
Though not all of the 20 or so locals that the reporters spoke to chose to offer an opinion for publication, every one who was asked said they had heard about the parking controversy, and most offered that their impression among friends and neighbors was of a generally negative view of paid parking.
One exception was Clive Davies, a La Jollan for more than two decades. He said that he liked the idea of raising revenues for street repairs and for the welfare of the local economy but that “residents should have something in their car that they can either park longer, or don’t have to” pay for meters.
Davies said the ongoing state of disrepair along Coast Boulevard “which is the main tourist street, is disgusting.” He said that if parking meters could pay for local street repairs they would be well worth installing.
Of course, a random sample has to be much larger than a score or two to be statistically meaningful, but at least at the level of anecdotal evidence, the local mood does not seem ripe for paid parking innovations.
When the reporters came across Linda Currie she had just run into Meanley Hardware to buy some plant food. She said that if stopping had required her to find change and pay for a spot she probably wouldn’t have bothered.
Other reasons were less practical, even tinged with a bit of romance about the specialness of La Jolla.
Twenty-year resident Mehram Saberi invoked the “uniqueness of La Jolla” to explain his opposition to meters. “La Jolla is kind of unique and it’s nice to be able to come to an environment where there are no meters for a change.”