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Letters to the editor: March 29, 2007

To Ray Weiss:

Your reliance on Prof. Shoup is clearly misplaced. The premise for the studies he did, and relies on, is that those communities that need revenue to rehab areas in disrepair should raise the needed revenue by eliminating free parking.

Your La Jolla parking mandate does not include raising revenue, as Ms. Marengo has recognized. La Jolla does not need revenue. Therefore, Prof. Shoup’s analysis is not the expert perspective we, and you, should be using.

Prof. Shoup’s reliance on the Pasadena and Westwood Village experiences also is not supportive of installing parking meters in La Jolla. In Westwood Village, the reason people drove around looking for parking meters is because the public parking was $2 per hour. That’s expensive in order to run into Burn’s or Warwick’s to pick up a pre-ordered prescription or book. Also, having meters obviously did not work to solve the parking problem. In Pasadena, the parking meters did a great job creating the needed revenue to revive “Old Pasadena.” La Jolla has an “Old La Jolla” but wants to keep it as it is. Prof. Shoup’s articles don’t tell us that Pasadena still has a parking problem, that the meters did not solve that problem as they did not the Westwood Village problem.

What Prof Shoup’s studies of Pasadena and Westwood Village did show, that is relevant to La Jolla, is that “Customers had difficulty finding places to park because employees took up the most convenient curb spaces, and moved their cars every two hours to avoid citations.”

Finding a way to cause employers to ensure that their employees use the available public parking is the task of your committee. Employers do not want meters to accomplish this solution because meters scare off customers and put the expense of parking on their employees. If employees could park free in public parking and would be fined if caught parking on the street, Prof. Shoup’s findings would be solved. Requiring a sticker on the bumper of each employee would gain their access to the free public parking and cause them not to park on the street.

R. Jay Engel

La Jolla

To R. Jay Engel:

Thank you for taking the trouble to write. In addition to replying to your comments, I will pass on your views to the other La Jolla Parking Advisory Board members. If you can, I would also encourage you to attend Board meetings at 9 a.m. on the third Wednesday of the month at the Athenaeum on Wall Street.

If I understand your comments correctly, I believe you are misinterpreting the work of Prof. Shoup and the position of the Parking Advisory Board. The principal premise of Shoup’s work is about management, not revenue. He clearly shows how the availability of inadequate free parking distorts the decisions people make, whether it has to do with cruising for empty spaces, investment in off-street parking facilities, employee parking abuse, or public transportation.

The generation of revenue is a consequence of this management approach, not the reason for it, even though such revenue can certainly be put to a good purpose by well-meaning community leaders. In the case of La Jolla, I would even support the proposed framework parking plan for La Jolla if all net revenue went to a worthy charity instead of the community.

Indeed, the greatest role that revenue plays in La Jolla’s problem has to do with the very real fear that, if La Jolla does not act soon, the city of San Diego will impose paid on-street parking in some heavy-handed way, purely as a source of revenue to reduce the city’s deficit.

I agree with your point that employee parking is a major issue, but expecting employers to foot the bill may not be realistic. At UCSD, where I work, it is illegal for my employer to subsidize parking using state funds, and I must pay about $1,000 per year to park my car on campus. Your idea of requiring employees to mark their cars and thereby disqualify themselves from parking on the street, even if they are parked legally, is original but probably is also unconstitutional.

You say that La Jollans want to keep “Old La Jolla” as it is, and I couldn’t agree more. However, the present situation is untenable, and the city’s unwillingness to put the brakes on development while building more roads to bring even more people into the community has exacerbated the situation each year.

I could go on, but at this stage all I ask is that you reserve judgment, participate in the parking board process if you can spare the time (the meetings are open).

Ray Weiss

La Jolla