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New parking plan to be considered for La Jolla

After a year of consideration, a local board has created a draft parking plan for La Jolla that proposes a system of paid on-street parking in high-demand areas such as the Village and a residential permit program for some neighborhoods.

The proposed parking management plan approved by the La Jolla Community Parking District Advisory Board on March 1 is a draft plan that will now be taken to various community groups for discussion and possible revision. The draft comes after more than a year of monthly meetings by the board, which visited other beach communities with high parking demand and consulted with urban planning experts before creating the draft.

The draft plan lists creating a 10 to 15 percent availability of parking in commercial, beach and other high-demand areas as its first objective. It proposes achieving that availability by installing a system of paid on-street parking with rates and hours of enforcement that would be adjusted to achieve the desired availability.

“The objective is to charge the lowest amount possible,” board member Mark Evans said. “If you could get 15 percent vacancy by charging between $1 and $10, you want to charge $1.”

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The proposal also calls for allowing La Jolla residents and visitors to purchase a community parking pass that would enable them to park without additional cost but subject to the posted time limit. The cost of the pass would be set to reflect a discount from posted rates, according to the draft proposal.

The draft plan also lists as one of its objectives protecting the residential areas that may be affected by paid on-street parking in nearby areas. In order to prevent certain residential streets from being used for all-day parking by non-residents, some neighborhoods would be subject to parking time limits. Residents of the affected streets could purchase up to two residential parking permits to exempt them from the time limits, and guest permits would also be available.

Some of the elements of the proposal represented a severe change in thinking for some members of the board, which is comprised of representatives of the La Jolla Community Planning Association, La Jolla Town Council, La Jolla Shores Association and Promote La Jolla. Several board members said they were staunch opponents of paid on-street parking when the board first met last February. Some board members pointed to a presentation by UCLA professor Donald Shoup, an expert on urban planning, as a major turning point in their thinking on the subject.

“Shoup changed my mind on this,” board member Ray Weiss said. “If it wasn’t for him, I’d be dead-set against this.”

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The board felt so compelled to explain their thinking, they decided to include a reference to Shoup’s book, “The High Cost of Free Parking,” at the end of the draft parking management plan.

The plan will now be taken to each of the represented community groups for comment and possible revision.

“Nothing that’s here is cast in concrete,” board member Martin Mosier said. “If we don’t have a starting point, there’s nothing for the community to comment on.”

The parking district advisory board was also compelled to create the draft plan by the city’s ongoing budget process. The city will release its budget in July, and Mosier said it will likely contain proposals for paid on-street parking in several communities.

“We’re trying to get ahead of the curve and get some input into their decision-making,” Mosier said.

As part of the City Council policy that created the parking district in 2005, the La Jolla Community Parking District can also ask that parking revenue generated in La Jolla stay in the community. One concerned resident who appeard at the March 1 meeting was told that revenues from a residential permit plan could be used to improve sidewalks and street lights in her neighborhood.

“The money stays in the neighborhood,” Weiss said.

The draft parking management plan also proposes using revenue generated by paid on-street parking to pay for global positioning systems that will make enforcement much more efficient, improved signage, an expansion of a subsidized bus-pass program, and a possible shuttle program into commercial and beach areas to promote mass transit and remote parking.

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Promote La Jolla’s Tiffany Sherer said revenue could also be used to hire additional staff to improve the city’s enforcement of parking rules.

The draft plan could be revised according to community input. If implemented, on-street parking rates and permit costs could also be revised. The parking advisory board is required by council policy to report on its district and suggest revisions to its parking plan every year. Community Planning Association representative Marty McGee asked that periodical review and adjustment of the plan be listed as one of its objectives.