La Jolla’s parking board seeks to free up funds for Village transportation

Coastal Access and Parking Board online:

By Pat Sherman

A group that oversees a pool of money allocated to alleviate parking congestion in the La Jolla Village is working with the city to establish more reasonable guidelines for how the funds may be used.

La Jolla’s Coastal Access and Parking Board (CAPB) was formed in 1993, largely to create a parking area outside La Jolla and a shuttle system to bring visitors into the Village, plus other short-term or long-term parking and traffic related solutions subject to approval by the San Diego City Council and the California Coastal Commission.

These projects were supposed to be funded by fees overseen by the CAPB that are assessed on developers whose projects impact parking in La Jolla.

Addressing the La Jolla Town Council last month, La Jolla Community Planning Association Vice-Chair Joe LaCava characterized the CAPB as “one of those strange, leftover animals” created during the 1980s and ’90s when the Coastal Commission was concerned that development in La Jolla would draw more tourists to the Village and limit parking availability.

“They started collecting fees from all these projects and they put them into a special fund — and they didn’t know what they were going to do with it; they didn’t have a plan,” LaCava said.

When the Coastal Commission had amassed around $300,000 the City of San Diego decided it wanted to use the money, and a memorandum of understanding (MOU) was drawn up between the city and the Coastal Commission to create the off-site parking and a shuttle program. Two decades later, neither have come to fruition.

To date, the CAPB’s main function has been the purchase of bus passes and garage parking, which it makes available to Village employees at a reduced rate to free up street parking spaces.

Through there is now roughly $400,000 in the CAPB account, it is not enough to pay for the city’s original shuttle and off-site parking plans.

“It’s our money, the city’s got it in a special account, and we can’t figure out what to do with it,” LaCava said. “What we’re trying to do through the CAPB is to approach the city with a new business plan, and then approach the Coastal Commission to obtain an updated memorandum of understanding.”

Town Council trustee Nancy Gardner, who serves as first vice-president of the CABP, said the parking board is both working to re-write the MOU and establish the CAPB as a nonprofit, so that that its money can be used more effectively.

Gardner said some of the ideas the CAPB is considering include the use of golf carts to move people around the Village, and a proposal for a Village trolley system that was presented to the CAPB by two local entrepreneurs who would finance a portion of the project themselves.

“We liked their idea very much, but our MOU at the moment does not allow us to support that,” Gardner said.

People interested in learning more about the CAPB, its evolving MOU or mission are welcome to attend meetings, 5 p.m. the first Tuesday of the month at La Jolla Rec Center, 615 Prospect St. The Downtown San Diego Partnership, a nonprofit that also works on parking issues, will make a presentation during the May 7 meeting.

“Everyone has the same concept — how to get people around town with minimal impact on parking and make all that as eco- friendly as possible,” Gardner said of the various groups in the region grappling with parking issues.